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US Veterinary License & International Graduates

Work as a veterinarian in America if you meet specific requirements.

Want to become a veterinarian in the US?

First you need a US veterinary license.

Each state has its own veterinary licensing board that establishes professional licensure requirements specific to that state. International graduates should consult the licensing board of the state where they wish to practice for more information.

In general, however, most states share these basic eligibility standards:

  • You must have graduated from a veterinary program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • Graduates must furnish translations of academic transcripts as proof of education
  • Graduates of non-AVMA-approved schools must complete a four-step qualifying program sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG)
  • Graduates must receive a passing score on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE)

Thats’ a lot of information! Let’s look at each requirement more closely.

Veterinary Education for International Graduates

To qualify for a US veterinary license, you must have completed an AVMA-accredited program. The AVMA recognizes 28 such programs in the US and 9 abroad, including some in Australia, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and the Netherlands.

If you did not graduate from an AVMA-approved school, you must complete the four-step ECFVG program.

The ECFVG Program

This is a four-step program that determines an international graduate’s competence to receive a US veterinary license. The program evaluates a graduate’s medical education, training, and clinical proficiency.

The four steps include:

  • Enrollment, application submission, and submission of translated transcripts
  • For those whose native language is not English, proof of a passing score on an English language test (such as the TOEFL)
  • Completion of the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE) — a 225 question, computer-based test measuring an applicant’s Veterinary knowledge
  • Completion of the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) — a hands-on assessment of an applicant’s clinical and diagnostic skills

Upon completion of this program, graduates will be issued a certificate qualifying them to sit for the NAVLE.


The final — and necessary — step toward a US veterinary license is successful completion of the NAVLE.

This is a 360-question, computer-based exam testing a graduate’s clinical knowledge. This exam is offered at about 300 testing sites throughout North America and at various locations around the world.  It is typically scheduled twice a year: during a four-week window in November and December, and a two-week window in April.

Obtaining a US veterinary license is a long, rigorous process, but one that ultimately enables you to perform critical services for your community.