No More PTAL and the New PTL in California 2020

That’s right, folks! The Medical Board of California (MBC) is doing away with the Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter (also referred to as the California Letter) and making some very interesting and very important changes to the state’s licensing requirements and protocols, beginning with – no more PTAL.

Although there will be no more PTAL (much to the relief of many, we’re sure), there are some important considerations to these changes, which are taking effect, starting January 1st, 2020. They are due to the recent California Senate Bill, SB 798, which has put more pressure on the oversight of physician licensure in the state. You can find a useful summary of the bill here – SB 798 Fact Sheet here.

For those applying in 2019-2020 – After contacting Jaren S. of the MBC, he says that they do NOT RECOMMEND applying for the PTAL and strongly discourage it from this point forward The MBC is aiming for NO NEW PTAL applications in 2019.

But why the changes? Why no more PTAL? The Medical Board of California’s primary mission is to ensure consumer safety of for medical care in the state. They felt that the previous 12-month requirement of training for USMGs and the 24-month requirement for IMGs was insufficient. Now, USMGs and IMGs are expected an equal 36 months of medical practice under supervision, which they feel provides better and equanimous protection for consumers. 36 months is also the minimum time needed for American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) certification. We encourage you to listen to a podcast produced by the MBC regarding the topic here.


Let’s begin with a summary of some important changes beginning January 1st, 2020:

  • No more PTAL requirement for IMGs – the MBC does not want any new PTAL applications (see yellow box above) 
  • A Postgraduate Training License (PTL) will be required by ALL physicians training in CA (both IMGs and USMGs)
  • MBC will recognize the applicant’s medical school as meeting requirements for the PTL if the school is listed on: World Federation for Medical Education, Founder for Advancement of International Medical Education, Research World Directory of Medical Schools joint directory or World Directory of Medical Schools
  • 36 months of pre-approved postgraduate training will be required of ALL physicians in training in CA to qualify for full unrestricted licensure (instead of the old 12 months for USMGs and 24 months for IMGs)


Critical notes for obtaining the PTL include:

  • Physicians in training MUST obtain the PTL within 180 days of enrollment in the ACGME program in CA (it will be valid for 90 days after 36 months of training is completed)
  • The basics of eligibility include: graduation from an MBC-approved medical school (see above), successful completion of USMLE Exams (excluding Step 3), Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and ECFMG Certification
  • Your application will include: PTL Application, application fee, and fingerprint cards
  • Must request the following to be mailed to the MBC: verification of passing USMLE exam scores (Step 3 not required), completed Certificate of Medical Education, Transcript and Diploma from Medical School, verification of all previously accepted post-graduate training from the program(s), Enrollment Verification form from the Program
  • It is recommended that you begin and complete your PTL application as soon as your acceptance into a program is confirmed, rather than waiting until you begin training
  • For residents who are already in training: you must obtain the PTL by June 30th of 2020 in order to continue medical practice – You can begin the PTL application process 45 days before January 1st, 2020 in order to get ahead and make sure your GME continues unhindered


If PTL is issued to the applicant: 

  • The PTL is shown on the MBC’s website with the name and address of the facility where training is being completed
  • The trainee will also be issued a pocket card showing licensure
  • Moonlighting will be allowed, as long as there is written consent granted by the Program Director
  • Renewal will not be required
  • Program Director is responsible for filing the Change of Status Notification form within 30 days if an extension of training granted or there is a transfer, probation, leave of absence, resignation, termination, etc.
  • The 36-month ACGME training requirement can be adjusted in certain situations – these could include cases where pre-approved ACGME training was completed outside the state of California, or a leave of absence is granted to the trainee, as examples


Requirements for obtaining Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate in California: 

  • PTL is valid for 90 days after the completion of 36 months of training – During this time, the physician in training MUST OBTAIN their Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate in order to continue practicing medicine (to do otherwise would be unlawful)
  • It is recommended to begin the application as soon as your 36 months of training have been completed
  • When applying for the transition to an unrestricted license, the applicant must have the following mailed to the MBC: USMLE Exam Transcripts of passing scores (including Step 3), Post Graduation Training Licensure Enrollment form (by the Program Director), Certificate of Completion of ACGME/RCPSC Postgraduate training after the last day of the 36th month.


Still have questions? 

  • Stay up to date by following news releases on the MBC’s website (you can also email the MBC at
  • Contact April Alameda, the Chief of Licensing for California by emailing or calling (916)-263-2348
  • Leave a comment below with your thoughts, questions, or concerns


As always, you are also welcome to email Match A Resident directly to address your concerns at or by giving us a call at (858)-221-8510.



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