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General Requirements

The ABPN requires that throughout the initial certification and maintenance of certification processes, physicians must have a valid, unexpired, and unrestricted license to practice medicine in at least one state, commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States or province of Canada. If more than one license is held, all licenses must all be unrestricted to meet this requirement.

Additionally, physicians who are board certified by the ABPN (called ABPN Diplomates) must have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in a specialty and/or subspecialty. These evaluation processes formulate the core of our business and are encompassed in our initial certification examinations and Maintenance of Certification Program.

More information on the ABPN licensure and exceptions policy, the maintenance of certification process, and other requirements for Board certification, may be found on this website.

There are many organizations involved in taking active measures to ensure high standards of individual physicians’ and health-care organizations’ quality of care to the public. Some of these organizations may be able to provide patients and their families with information via their websites. The ABPN website provides links to other websites that contain information published by institutions and organizations independent of the ABPN. For patient information about physician board certification and what it means, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) provides a website — Certification Matters — as a resource to the public to learn more about how continuous board certification goes above and beyond basic medical licensure.

To qualify to sit for examination, an applicant must:

  1. Be a graduate of an accredited medical school in the United States or Canada or of an international medical school listed by the World Health Organization.
  2. Complete all training in either a U.S. program accredited by the ACGME or approved by the ABPN or in a Canadian program accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada as well as meet the other requirements specified in the reciprocity agreement.
  3. Have an active, full, unrestricted medical license* in the U.S. or Canada as defined in the separate General Information and Board Policies Manual on this website. Applicants are required to update their active, full, unrestricted medical licenses in their ABPN Physician Portal account.
  4. Have satisfactorily completed the Board’s specialized training requirements described on this website.
  5. Apply online and submit an application through the ABPN Physician Portal. Required documents should be emailed, mailed or faxed to 847.229.6600 separately.

See the specific Information for Applicants document for information on each exam. These Information for Applicants documents contain our requirements for admissions to examinations, examination procedures, specific training requirements, and content descriptions.

All training must be confirmed either by way of the ABPN preCERT® system or by submitting documentation noting the completion of training requirement.

If you are unable to activate your ABPN Physician Portal account, you may need to submit a request to apply for the examination. This process may take up to three business days. Therefore, we encourage applicants to allow enough time to submit the request prior to the deadline for applications. The deadline for submission of a completed application depends on the specialty or subspecialty. See more information on this website.

*Applicants for specialty certification examinations who do not yet have an unrestricted medical license because they are in training are not required to submit a copy of their medical license at the time of application for the examination. However, such applicants must submit a copy of their active, full, unrestricted medical license with expiration date no later than September 1 of the year of the examination. If the Board office does not receive the medical license by September 1, the application will be denied and the Board will retain the application fee and any late application fee.