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How to keep your EMT certification current

EMT recertification is a straightforward process, but you can’t miss the deadlines

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Keeping your EMT certificate current is a straightforward process, and you’re given plenty of time to turn everything in.


In August 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Registry of EMTs announced that distributive education limits in the National Continued Competency Program model will be waived for the 2021 recertification season.

Older medics say you’re not a real EMT until after you renew your certification for the first time.

By the time you recertify, you’ll have about two years’ experience under your belt and a better understanding of what it means to be a care provider. Thankfully, the process is pretty straightforward.

How do I renew my EMT license?

Your certificate expires about two years after you originally received it. The easiest way to find your certificate’s expiration date is to log in to your NREMT account. You’ll see it on the front page.

In order to renew your EMT certification, you’ll need to be affiliated with an agency and have some patient care hours under your belt.

The NREMT has made the EMT recert process easy

NREMT recertification by exam

Login to your NREMT account, complete the recertification by exam application and pay the fee. You’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter 24 to 48 hours later, which will give you instructions to schedule and take your exam.

While this may seem like the less stressful option, you only have one attempt to take the NREMT recertification exam. If you fail, some states will not allow you to retake the test.

NREMT recertification by continuing education

The other way to renew your EMT certification is by recording 40 hours of continuing education units in three different components at the national, state and individual level. You can find the list of acceptable continuing education courses here.

The national component consists of 20 required hours that cover skills in certain areas, such as cardiovascular, airway management, trauma and pain management. Up to seven hours of this material can be distributive education, meaning instructors and students aren’t meeting in person.

In addition, 10 hours are designated for local or state-mandated requirements, and 10 hours for the individual component, which are considered flexible hours. Any state or CAPCE-approved, EMS-related education course can be used to fulfill those required hours.

What other information do I have to keep current with the NREMT?

You have 30 days to notify the NREMT if any of the following happens:

  • You change your address.
  • You’re criminally convicted.
  • The state suspends or terminates your right to practice.

Keeping your EMT certificate current is a straightforward process, and you’re given plenty of time to turn everything in. Logging in to your NREMT account will give you the exact date your license expires, and what steps you can take to renew it.

While taking the NREMT recertification exam seems like the less stressful option, some states won’t allow you to recertify if you fail the test. In addition, taking additional EMT training courses and earning new certificates may be helpful for your career beyond just keeping your certification current.

This article, originally posted on Sept. 14, 2016, has been updated with current information

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.