IBCLC Examination Administrations- Twice Per Year FAQs
When are the exams offered each year and in which languages?
The IBCLC exam is offered in April and October each year. The exam administration dates are listed on the Key Dates page. Please note that the April exam is only offered via Computer-Based Testing (CBT) in the English language. The October exam is offered via CBT in all of the following languages. Paper and pencil (PPT) exams are only offered in remote areas where CBT is not available:
- Chinese Traditional
Is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) application available?
The last year for the MOU application was 2015. MOU applications were used for candidates that did not have their 90 hours of lactation specific education or Pathway 2 IBLCE verified academic program completed at the time of exam application. Starting with the 2016 application, as there are two exams per year, the MOU option will not be available; you must meet all of the eligibly requirements at the time you apply.
What happens if I don’t pass the exam can I take the next exam offered?
You will be able to apply to resit the exam at the next exam seating in that language. If you are taking the exam in English via CBT then you have the option of the April or October exam. If you are taking the exam in a non-English language and/or by Paper and Pencil, you will be able to apply to sit the October exam. Information about reapplying will be provided at the time of the exam results.
When will exam results be available?
April exam: End of June, with a certification start date of July 1
October exam: End of December, with a certification start date of January 1
I’m an IBCLC, what happens if I don’t pass an exam?
If you don’t pass the April exam, your IBCLC certification will expire on June 30 of that year.
If you don’t pass the October exam, your IBCLC certification will expire on December 31 of that year.
How are current IBCLC credential expiration dates affected?
Due to the transition to exams twice year, all current IBCLCs will be receiving a new expiration date of December 31 of the year you are expiring. You will receive further information about the expiration date transition and an updated certificate within the year that you are expiring.
For IBCLCs that are not due to recertify in 2015, you will receive further information about the expiration date transition within the year that you are expiring.
If you are due to recertify in 2015 and do not recertify, your expiration date will remain October 31, 2015.
How do I know if I live in an area where CBT is not offered?
CBT is offered in many countries all over the world. In some states of specific countries like Australia (Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territories and South Australia) you may need to sit paper and pencil exam in October until new centres are established. Otherwise you may choose to sit the exam in states where CBT is offered. Check with your regional office as the numbers of centres that offer the IBLCE exam are increasing.
Am I eligible for a discounted exam retake fee?
When you don’t pass the exam, then you are eligible to receive a discounted exam retake fee for your next three exams attempts or up to three years following the first time you don’t pass. Both initial and recertification exam candidates are eligible for the discounted rate. This discount is not retroactive, as it applies to anyone that did not pass the 2015 exam and going forward.
General Information and Requirements
I am recertifying IBCLC? Why do I now have two ID numbers?
IBLCE is transitioning to a new unified database. IBLCE is in a transitional period and will be phasing in new numbers as certificants recertify. Please carefully note that the original certification number/original IBCLC ID Number will continue to be valid for verification purposes through 2017. New candidates will be receiving exclusively the new identification numbers. The new numbers are indicated by L-#####. Employers and insurers may submit a verification form located on the IBLCE website, click here to access the form.
What happens if I don’t recertify?
If you choose not to recertify in the year that your IBCLC certification expires or you fail the exam as an IBCLC, you will no longer be permitted to use the designation “IBCLC” and/or “RLC” after your name. To regain the IBCLC certification you MUST sit the exam and pass. All application deadlines are applicable, so please review these if you plan to seek certification.
Should you let their certification lapse by either failing the IBLCE exam or not renewing by either sitting the exam or recertifying by CERPs, you may take the exam one time within the following twelve months after the expiration year without having to meet the IBLCE exam eligibility requirements; this exemption is limited to one exam sitting within the year that immediately follows the lapse of your certification. For any subsequent exam attempts you are expected to meet the eligibility requirements valid at the time of exam application. For example, an individual who fails the exam in April will be able to take the October exam of that same year or the next April exam without having to meet the pre-requisites for the exam. An IBCLC who fails in October will be granted one attempt for either April or October of the following year without having to demonstrate meeting the pre-requisites.
Should your IBCLC certification lapse, then you will pay the fee associated with initial exam applicants the next time that you apply to sit the exam.
I originally applied to recertify by CERPs, but have decided to take the exam instead. How do I go about applying for the exam?
The ability to accommodate your decision depends upon the timing of your request. Please contact your IBLCE regional office to see if it is possible to meet your request.
I was eligible to recertify by either exam or CERPs this year, I chose to take the exam but failed. I have 75 CERPs, can I recertify by CERPs?
Due to the fact that you failed the exam, your certification has lapsed. You may not recertify by CERPs.
I sent my recertification by CERPs application by the deadline but I was short 3 CERPs. Why can’t I get the CERPs since my certification doesn’t expire until December 31st?
Due to the fact that you did not have sufficient CERPs by the application deadline your certification has lapsed. IBLCE does not permit submission of CERPs earned after the application deadline.
Can I apply education obtained before sitting the exam towards my recertification/what is the cut-off date to obtain CERPs?
Education for the purposes of recertification by CERPs can be earned after you are certified as an IBCLC. The timeframe in which CERPs can be earned is dependent on which exam is taken.
For initial IBCLCs who sit the April exam: education can be earned toward recertification starting July 1 of that year through application for recertification 5 years later. For example, if you pass the April exam in 2016, then you can begin to earn education points (CERPs) for recert by CERPs from July 1, 2016 until you submit your application for recertification in 2021.
For initial IBCLCs who sit the October exam: education can be earned toward recertification staring January 1 of the following year through application for recertification 5 years later. For example, if you pass the October exam in 2016, then you can begin to earn education points (CERPs) for recert by CERPs from January 1, 2017 until you submit your application for recertification in 2021.
For current IBCLCs that are recertifying by exam, education may count towards recertification at any point after sitting the exam in the expiration year through application for recertification 5 years later. For example, if you are due to recertify by exam in 2016, then you can begin earning education (CERPs) at any time following the exam seating in which you took (e.g. April 4-6 or October 3-5, 2016) until you submit your application for recertification in 2021.
Can I recertify earlier than my expiration year?
The recertification policy is such that IBCLCs can recertify early by one year if you are taking the exam. Please note that if you choose to recertify one year early, then your expiration date is set to five years out from when you sit the exam (e.g. If you are due to recertify in 2017, but you pass an exam in 2016, then your next expiration date will be 2021 and not 2022). IBCLCs are not able to recertify by CERPs one year early.
What is the deadline to submit an application for recertification?
Please consult the Key Dates page for the application deadline. Please note that the deadline for recertification by exam is different from the deadline for recertification by CERPs.
What are the dates of the exam administration?
The date of the exam administration and related deadlines can be found under Key Dates.
Recertification by Examination
Do I need CERPs to sit the exam?
IBCLCs are not required to demonstrate any continuing education recognition points (CERPs) in order to qualify for the exam.
I took the exam 10 years ago, am I eligible to recertify by CERPs?
No. IBLCE requires that you recertify by re-examination every 10 years.
Will I be able to take the exam at a location near my house?
The availability of an appointment at a location near your home cannot be guaranteed. However, the sooner you apply, the wider your options will be.
Recertification by CERPs
How many CERPs do I need to recertify?
At least 50 L-CERPs
At least 5 E-CERPs
At least 20 additional CERPs which may be L, E, or R-CERPs
What is the difference between L, R and E-CERPs?
IBLCE awards three (3) different categories of CERPs to continuing education:
L-CERPs are awarded to education that is specifically about human lactation and breastfeeding and the provision of care to breastfeeding families.
E-CERPs are awarded to education that is about professional ethics, conduct and standards for health professionals.
R-CERPs are an optional category that covers education that is in any way related to the practice of lactation consulting.
For more information regarding CERP definitions, please click here.
I have over 75 L-CERPs and I have 5 E-CERPs, do I also need R-CERPs to recertify?
R-CERPs are not required.
May I use continuing education that has not been awarded CERPs?
When you submit your recertification by CERPs application, you may submit continuing education that has not already been recognised for CERPs. The Individual CERPs Guide provides details about the types of educational activities that you may submit.
Is it possible to have my educational activities reviewed before I submit my recertification by CERPs application?
If you are referring to an Individual CERPs request, please carefully review The Individual CERPs Guide. If your educational activities conform to these guidelines, you can be confident that the activities meet IBLCE requirements. Review ahead of the recertification application is not available.
Must all education have the CERPs designation?
Education that has not already been recognised for CERPs must meet the criteria published in the Individual CERPs Guide.
Do I need to submit proof of my 75 CERPs?
All recertifying IBCLCs should set aside copies of their certificates of participation in the continuing education that they report on their application. If your application is randomly selected for audit, you will need to submit these certificates as proof of the required CERPs.
Computer Based Testing (CBT)
Where are the computer-based testing (CBT) centres located?
IBLCE contracts with a third-party testing vendor to provide the computer-based testing centres. The vendor has testing centres in many countries around the world.
How will I know whether or not I will be taking the exam at a CBT centre?
The majority of exam candidates will take the exam at a CBT centre. There are some locations around the world where there are not sufficient CBT centres to accommodate IBLCE exam candidates. In those cases, IBLCE will provide paper and pencil exam sites. If you are one of the candidates who will need to take the exam by paper and pencil administration, IBLCE will notify you.
Last year, I took the exam by CBT but a friend of mine who lives in another city in my country took the exam by paper and pencil. Why did that happen?
In some situations, even in the same country, there are not sufficient CBT centres to register all IBLCE exam candidates. The CBT vendor may be able to handle all candidates in one large city but not in another. In such situations, it is necessary for IBLCE to offer the exam by paper and pencil administration in the metropolitan area where there are not sufficient CBT centres.
Will the CBT centre provide all the equipment I need for the exam?
Yes, the centre will provide you with all the equipment and materials you need to take the IBLCE exam.
How will I know the location of the CBT centre where I will take the exam?
Once your appointment at the CBT centre is made, a confirmation email will be sent to you. This email will include the location of the CBT centre where you are scheduled.
When I make my appointment with the CBT centre, will I need to pay a fee?
No. You will not owe any money when you make your appointment.
My CBT centre appointment is for 2:00 PM but my colleague has a 9:00 AM appointment. Why is my appointment so late in the day?
CBT centres deliver exams for many different organizations. The IBLCE exam is not the only exam being given at the CBT centre where you are scheduled to take the exam. Each CBT centre establishes its hours of operation and makes appointments on the basis of the length of the exam for which an appointment is being scheduled. Some IBLCE exam candidates will start the exam in the morning and others will start the exam later in the day.
What can I expect when I arrive at the CBT centre?
You should take 2 forms of identification with you to the CBT centre and at least one form of identification must include your photo. When you arrive at the CBT centre, you will need to register with the test centre supervisor, your identification will be inspected and your picture will be taken. In addition, you will be required to store your personal items in a locked locker or cabinet designated by the test centre supervisor. Also, please note that you may be asked to demonstrate that your pockets are empty. Candidates who are wearing a cast due to a fractured limb may be subject to inspection as are candidates with tattoos. In some cases, candidates may be asked to remove jewelry or other adornments. Please understand that these measures are part of standard test centre security procedures.
May I reschedule my appointment for a different CBT centre?
Rescheduling is possible until a date specified by IBLCE so long as appointments are available.
What time should I arrive at the CBT centre?
Please plan on arriving 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
What will happen if I am late for my appointment?
If you are late, you are subject to being dismissed, will not be able to take the exam and will forfeit all rights to any refund of your exam fee.
What if I have an emergency on the day of the exam and cannot make my appointment?
Please contact IBLCE as soon as possible with details about the nature of your emergency. Depending upon the nature of your circumstances, you may be required to provide documentation that supports your report of the emergency.
Will I be allowed to bring water or a snack to the test center?
You may bring bottled water and/or a small snack to the CBT centre but you will be required to keep the water and snack in your assigned locker, along with your purse, backpack, mobile phone and other personal belongings. Please ask the test centre supervisor about where you are permitted to eat and drink.
Why cannot I not keep a bottle of water with me while taking the exam?
Liquids can damage keyboards and other computer equipment. Therefore, you may not have water at your examination seat.
Will I be allowed to take a break to use the restroom?
Yes, you may take a break to use the restroom. You will not be given any additional time on the exam to make up for the time used. When you return from the restroom, the test centre supervisor must re-admit you to the testing room.
What is the exam format?
The exam is composed of multiple choice questions. Part 1 of the exam is multiple choice questions without images and Part 2 is multiple choice questions with images.
How long will I be given to take the exam?
The examination is typically 4 hours. However, if there are accommodations, additional time will be given.
Will I be allowed to go back and review questions that I have already read and/or answered?
Yes. You will be permitted to review questions in each exam session. If your exam is being administered as one session, you may review any question that you wish. If your exam is administered in two parts due to accommodation(s), you will be able to review questions in each part of the exam, i. e., once you have submitted Part 1, those questions can no longer be reviewed.
I’ve never taken an exam by computer. Can you tell me what to expect?
IBLCE’s CBT vendor provides a tutorial and practice exam that will familiarize you with how to navigate through an exam. This tutorial and practice exam is not specifically about the IBLCE examination but it will give you a good idea of what to expect. Please note that the tutorial will not run on a Macintosh computer.
Will I be allowed to use my mobile phone when I take a break during the exam administration?
No. Mobile phone use is prohibited during breaks. Breaks are part of your exam appointment and using your mobile phone during a break is cause for dismissal from the examination. The Candidate Information Guide states, “Use of electronic devices such as cell phones is not allowed during the exam. Candidates found in possession of and/or using such devices during the exam will be dismissed and their examinations will not be scored. There are no exceptions to this rule.”
Paper and Pencil Testing
Click here for Exam Day Tips.
Can I choose to sit paper and pencil exam?
IBLCE is rolling out computer based examinations worldwide. Paper and pencil exams are only offered where computer testing centres are not available.
What is the difference between computer exam and paper and pencil?
The exam is essentially the same content whether you sit the exam using a computer or by paper and pencil.
What is the exam format?
The exam is composed of multiple choice questions. Part 1 of the exam is multiple choice questions without images and Part 2 is multiple choice questions with images.
How much time do I have to complete the exam?
Exam candidates taking the exam in paper and pencil will be given 2 hours and 30 minutes for Part 1 and the same amount of time for Part 2.
I would prefer to take the exam by computer, can I?
If you have been allocated to a paper and pencil exam site, it is because there are no computer centres in your vicinity. You can take the exam by computer and you would need to travel to the closest computer centre which may mean interstate or international travel, (IBLCE does not cover the cost of your travel expenses). If you would prefer to sit the exam by computer contact your Regional IBLCE office as soon as possible to discuss the possibility.
How do I know where the paper and pencil exam is being held?
Around 5-8 weeks before the exam you will receive your exam admission pack. This pack will contain all the information you need. Please read the information and if you have any questions please contact your Regional IBLCE office.
I know that people sitting the computer exam can chose their exam day, can I?
The paper and pencil exam is only held one day within the exam window period, so if you can’t make that day you have the choice of travelling to a computer exam centre (which may mean travel) or sitting a following exam. Check the Key Dates on the website for the next exam dates.
What do I need to bring to the paper and pencil exam?
Around 5-8 weeks before the exam you will receive an exam admission pack in the mail. This pack will contain all the information you need. Please read the information and if you have any concerns contact your Regional IBLCE office.