Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)

The State of California requires all persons that provide EMT or AEMT level scope of practice emergency medical services to obtain a valid state issued EMT or AEMT certification from a certifying entity or LEMSA.

  • All EMT Certification services are provided through Certifying Entities and Local EMS Agencies (LEMSAs).
  • To become an EMT, please contact the LEMSA for the county where you wish to hold your certification
  • Services are not provided directly through EMSA.
  • There is no online process at EMSA for applying for, or renewing EMT certification.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in California

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

To become an EMT in the State of California, you must:

      1. Successfully complete an approved EMT training program. Here is a list of of approved training programs.  
      2. After completing your training, you must pass the National Registry (NREMT) cognitive and psychomotor examinations.
      3. 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.

There is no online process at EMSA for applying for an EMT certification.

For detailed steps to become an EMT, please contact the local EMS agency for the county where you wish to hold your certification.

2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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.


5. 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 using their agency form. The certifying entity will review your documentation for compliance with these regulations.  Please contact them directly for more information on the application process.

How to renew an EMT certification


1. 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.


2. 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 near the bottom this page.  A refresher course must be through an approved training program. Additionally, EMTs are to complete the EMT Skills Competency Verification Form  EMSA-SCV (01-17). 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.

3. 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.


How to reinstate a lapsed EMT certification

1. What happens if my EMT certification has lapsed?

EMT certifications are good for two years from the date issued. 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 form is required.  A new background check is required if you change certifying entities, using their agency form.

For lapses of 6 months to less than 12 months: 36 hours of CE and completion of the EMT Skills form is required.  A new background check is required if you change certifying entities, using their agency form.

For lapses of 12 months or more: 48 hours of CE, completion of the EMT Skills form, and passing a new background check.  Additionally required is proof of passing the cognitive and psychomotor (NREMT) exams within 2 years of application OR current  EMT, AEMT, or Paramedic NREMT certificate OR current & valid AEMT certificate or Paramedic license.

Apply for reinstatement at a local EMS agency.


2. 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.  Please see the section above on lapsed EMT certification requirements. Your paramedic license is separate from the EMT certification and is not used to reinstate an EMT certificate automatically.  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.


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

A California certified EMT who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States and whose certification expires while deployed on active duty, or whose certification expires less than six (6) months from the date they return from active duty deployment, with the Armed Forces of the United States shall have six (6) months from the date they return from active duty deployment to complete the renewal requirements found on the EMT page. 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. Also see Military Veteran Pathways to EMS Certification and Licensure.

General Questions (Card replacement, change Certifying Entities, etc.)

1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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 (if any) and certifying entity.

For more information, please contact a local EMS agency.

4. I heard that naloxone, epi and glucometer training is now required for EMTs in CA.  What is the time line for obtaining this training and where do I get information?  

Starting 7/1/2019, an EMT renewing his or her certification for the first time shall submit documentation of successful completion of the following training by an approved EMT training program or approved CE provider :


EMT Training Programs / CE Providers

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