Intealth ECFMG

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates

ECFMG Certification Overview


What is the purpose of ECFMG Certification?

ECFMG Certification is the standard for evaluating the qualifications of international medical graduates (IMGs) entering the U.S. health care system.

  • The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requires IMGs who enter ACGME-accredited residency or fellowship programs to be certified by ECFMG.
  • ECFMG Certification is one of the eligibility requirements for IMGs to take Step 3 of the three-step United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
  • Medical licensing authorities in the United States require that IMGs be certified by ECFMG, among other requirements, to obtain an unrestricted license to practice medicine.

Who is an IMG?

For the purpose of ECFMG Certification, ECFMG defines IMGs as individuals who received their basic medical degree from a medical school located outside the United States and Canada. The location of the medical school, not the citizenship of the individual, is what determines whether they are IMGs. This means that U.S. citizens who graduated from medical schools outside the United States and Canada are considered IMGs. Non-U.S. citizens who graduated from medical schools in the United States and Canada are not considered IMGs.

What are the requirements for ECFMG Certification?

To be eligible for certification by ECFMG, an IMG must meet the following requirements.

Medical School Requirements

The individual’s medical school must meet requirements established by ECFMG. Schools that meet all requirements will be listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools (World Directory) with an ECFMG note stating that the school meets eligibility requirements for its students and graduates to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification and examination. The ECFMG note also will include the graduation years for which the school meets these requirements. Since ECFMG is a sponsor of the World Directory, the ECFMG note is located on the “Sponsor Notes” tab of the medical school listing. If there is no ECFMG note on the Sponsor Notes tab of the medical school’s listing, its students and graduates are not eligible to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification and examination. To confirm that a medical school meets ECFMG’s requirements, access the World Directory at www.wdoms.org .

Important Note: Beginning in 2024 (previously 2023), individuals will be eligible to apply for ECFMG Certification—the first step in the certification process—and take the required examinations if, at the time of application, their medical school is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME). This requirement will be in addition to the requirement that the school must be listed in the World Directory with an ECFMG note stating it meets ECFMG eligibility requirements. Further details regarding the 2024 Medical School Accreditation Requirement, including eligibility guidelines, are available on the ECFMG website at https://www.ecfmg.org/accreditation. International medical students and graduates interested in ECFMG Certification should continuously monitor this website section for the latest information.

Application for ECFMG Certification

To be eligible for ECFMG Certification, applicants must submit an Application for ECFMG Certification, which confirms their intent to pursue ECFMG Certification and their understanding of the purpose of the certification program. The Application for ECFMG Certification consists of an on-line application and the Certification of Identification Form (Form 186) that must be completed and notarized. The Application for ECFMG Certification is available through ECFMG's Interactive Web Applications (IWA).

Examination Requirements

Medical Science Examination Requirement

To satisfy the medical science examination requirement for ECFMG Certification, applicants must pass Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) of the USMLE. Refer to the USMLE Bulletin of Information for more information.

Clinical Skills Requirement and Communication Skills Requirement

To satisfy the clinical skills requirement and the communication skills requirement for ECFMG Certification, IMGs must:

Applicants pursuing ECFMG Certification who need to meet the clinical skills requirement and the communication skills requirement should monitor the ECFMG website for information on requirements for the 2023 Match and future Matches.

ECFMG has established time limits and other rules for completing the examination requirements for ECFMG Certification. For detailed information, see Examinations for ECFMG Certification in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

Medical Education Credential Requirements

The individual’s graduation year must be included in the ECFMG note in the medical school's World Directory listing. See Medical School Requirements above. IMGs must have been awarded credit for at least four credit years (academic years for which credit has been given toward completion of the medical curriculum) by a medical school that is listed in the World Directory with an ECFMG note stating it meets ECFMG eligibility requirements. There are restrictions on credits transferred to the medical school that awards an applicant’s medical degree that can be used to meet this requirement.

IMGs must document the completion of all requirements for, and receipt of, the final medical diploma. See the Reference Guide for Medical Education Credentials for the exact title of the final medical diploma individuals must have earned (and must provide). ECFMG verifies every IMG’s medical school diploma with the appropriate officials of the medical school that issued the diploma and requests that the medical school provide the final medical school transcript. Verification by ECFMG with the issuing school may also be required for transcripts that are submitted to document transferred credits. For more information, see Medical Education Credentials in the ECFMG Information Booklet.

How do IMGs begin the certification process?

Both international medical students and graduates may begin the certification process and may apply for the required exams as soon as they meet the eligibility requirements for examination. Individuals should begin the ECFMG certification process by first confirming their medical schools meet ECFMG requirements. Schools that meet all requirements will be listed in the World Directory with an ECFMG note stating that the school meets eligibility requirements for its students and graduates to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification and examination. The ECFMG note also will include the graduation years for which the school meets these requirements. Since ECFMG is a sponsor of the World Directory, the ECFMG note is located on the “Sponsor Notes” tab of the medical school listing. If there is no ECFMG note on the Sponsor Notes tab of the medical school’s listing, its students and graduates are not eligible to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification and examination. Students/graduates of schools that meet ECFMG requirements are eligible to apply to ECFMG for Certification and may request a USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number through ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) by clicking on the link to establish an account.

How long does it take to complete the certification process?

The time required to complete the certification process is different for each individual. Both international medical students and graduates may begin the certification process and may apply for the required exams as soon as they meet the eligibility requirements for examination. However, since one of the requirements for ECFMG Certification is that the final medical diploma be verified by ECFMG with the issuing medical school, an IMG cannot complete the certification process until after graduation from medical school. The time required for some aspects of the certification process, such as the time required by a medical school to verify medical education credentials, is beyond the control of ECFMG.

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[Last update: April 27, 2022]

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