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EMT Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)?

To become an EMT in the State of California, you will need to successfully complete an approved EMT training program. You may find a list of approved training programs hereAfter you have completed your training, you must pass the National Registry (NREMT) cognitive and psychomotor examinations and apply for certification at a local EMS agency. The certifying agency will inform you of additional requirements such as paying a fee and undergoing a background check using their agency form. It is a good idea to call ahead and find out what additional requirements exist.

  • I am a student on a visa and would like to know if a Social Security Number (SSN) is required to certify as an EMT in California?

Yes, a SSN is required by California law to complete the EMT certification process in CA.  The Central Registry regulations require that this information be collected by the certifying entities, documented in the Registry and available for certification action if necessary.

  • I passed the NREMT and I am now a “nationally registered EMT.”  Can I start work as an EMT in California or are there other requirements?

The NREMT is the cognitive (written) and psychomotor (skills) exam used to qualify EMTs for certification in the State of California.  Once you have passed the exams and received your EMT National Registry certificate, you may contact a local EMS agency to apply for EMT certification in California.  Once you have passed the background check and met all requirements provided to you from the certifying entity, you will be assigned an EMT number from the State Central Registry and your EMT card will be issued. Until this process is complete, you may not work as an EMT in the State of California. 

  •  How long is my course completion record valid to apply for initial EMT certification or recertification?

Course completion records, refresher courses and continuing education courses are good for two years from the date they are issued for certification or recertification purposes.

  • Can I transfer my EMT certification to California, and if so, what is required?

In California, EMTs are certified by a local EMS agency or other authorized certifying entity. You can contact the local EMS agency in the county in which you will be working or residing for information on reciprocity. State regulations require that you must pass the cognitive and psychomotor (NREMT or NREMT Assessment) exams.  As well, you will be required to complete a background check. The certifying entity will review your documentation for compliance with these regulations.  Please contact them directly for more information on the application process.

  • Does the State of California process renewals now that I have a State EMT card?  

The State of California does not certify, renew or reinstate EMT certifications.  This is done by the local EMS agency and other authorized certifying entities.  Once the certification, renewal or reinstatement is processed, the certifying entity will issue the State EMT card.  This card is valid state-wide and is documented in the State Central Registry.  There is a Certification and Licensure Verification site where anyone can verify EMT status.  

  • What are the renewal criteria for an EMT?  

In order to renew an EMT certification prior to expiration, you must submit proof of either 24 hours of approved EMS continuing education (CE) or an approved 24 hour refresher course certificate taken within the past two years. A link to approved CE courses in California can be found on the EMT page of the EMS Authority’s website.  A refresher course must be through an approved training program. Additionally, EMTs are to complete the “EMT Skills Competency Verification Form” EMSA-SCV (08-10) that you can find here [Skills form]. If you wish to apply for EMT certification renewal or need further clarification on what qualifies as approved CE, or assistance finding an approved skills verifier, contact a  local EMS agency.

  •  Do I need to maintain my National Registry certification (NREMT)?

Once you have obtained your CA EMT certification, you are not required to maintain your NREMT in order to renew.  If your EMT certificate lapses over one year and you have allowed your NREMT to lapse as well, then you will be required to pass the cognitive and psychomotor exams in order to reinstate your CA EMT certification.   Many EMTs choose to maintain their NREMT certification in case they move to another state or do not plan to renew their EMT certification for a period of time.  Please contact the local EMS agency should you need further guidance or the NREMT for details on their re-entry policies.

  • What happens if my EMT certification has lapsed?

EMT certifications are good for two years from the date issued (except in the case of persons seeking reciprocity from out of state with current National Registry or AEMT/Paramedic licenses).  Lapsed certifications requirements are outlined below:

  •  For lapses of less than 6 months:  24 hours of CE or a 24 hour  approved refresher course and completion of the "EMT Skills Competency Verification Form" EMSA-SCV (08-10) is required.  A new background check is required if you change certifying entities.
  • For lapses of 6 months to less than 12 months:  36 hours of CE and completion of the "EMT Skills Competency Verification Form" EMSA-SCV (08-10) is required.  A new background check is required if you change certifying entities.
  • For lapses of 12 months to less than 24 months:  48 hours of CE, proof of passing the cognitive and psychomotor exams (or possessing an EMT National Registry certificate), completion of the  "EMT Skills Competency Verification Form" EMSA-SCV (08-10) and passing a new background check is required.
  • For lapses of 24 months or more:  completion of an entire EMT course and successfully passing the cognitive and psychomotor certifying exam (NREMT).  If the lapsed EMT has a current NREMT registration certificate (any level), an AEMT or Paramedic license (in or out of state), he may qualify to reinstate his CA EMT certificate.  Passing a new background check is also required.

Apply for reinstatement at a local EMS agency.

  • I am a paramedic and I wish to get my expired EMT certificate reinstated – what do I need to do?

Depending on the expiration date of your EMT certificate, requirements vary.  Your paramedic license is separate from the EMT certification and is not used to reinstate an EMT certificate automatically.  If your EMT certificate is lapsed over 24 months, then regulation reverts the certification back to initial requirements so the current and valid paramedic license may be used to establish eligibility.  In this case, the expiration date of the paramedic license would be used as the expiration date for the EMT certificate for this reinstatement.  Future renewals and lapses of less than 24 months have specific requirements as detailed in the section above.

If you have lapsed over 24 months, you will not be required to submit the skills verification form or CEs; as you will need to meet the initial requirements of an EMT certification (which can be found here), apply and obtain a background check through a local EMS agency.  The EMS Authority is the licensing agency with oversight for Paramedic licenses; the local EMS agencies and other approved certifying entities have oversight and jurisdiction over EMT certification.

  • I have been overseas deployed on active duty and my EMT or Advanced EMT certification has expired. What can I do?

For a CA EMT whose certificate expired while deployed on active duty, or less than six (6) months after their return, an extension of six months may be given from the time they returned from active duty in order to complete the renewal requirements. Verification of the individual’s active duty is required. Also, for certified individuals whose military duty required them to use their EMT or AEMT skills, credit may be given for documented training they received while on active duty, if it meets CA state continuing education requirements. These individuals would need to provide documentation from their Commanding Officer(s) attesting to classes attended and successful completion.  Please contact the local EMS agency should you need further guidance. 

  • I lost my EMT card – how do I get it replaced?

If you have misplaced your state EMT card, have a name change and need a new one, or never received your card in the mail, contact the local EMS agency or other certifying entity in which you were last certified.  They will make any necessary updates in the Central Registry and issue a new card.

  • What if I want to change certifying entities mid cycle – what is required?

Should you wish to change certifying entities due to employment requirement (though the state EMT card is valid throughout CA), you may do so.  You will need to meet the renewal requirements of 24 CEs, skills verification, and a background check is always required when changing certifying entities.  You will maintain the same E# and your 2 year cycle will depend on whether you are within 6 months of your current expiration or re-certifying greater than 6 months in advance.  The certifying entity will verify your requirements, and issue a new EMT card. 

  • How can I view or verify my EMT certification in the Central Registry? What is public?

You may verify your EMT certification in the Central Registry Public Look Up by going to:  Certification and Licensure Verification.  The information provided to the public is your license type, status, name, certification number, date issued, expiration date, discipline information and certifying entity.

For more information, please contact a local EMS agency.

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