How to Obtain an Italian Medical License

There are 3 steps to having your US medical credentials recognized in Italy. First, you need to have your non-EU medical degree recognized; second, you need to pass the “National Exam”, or Esame Di Stato, to obtain your official Italian medical license; and third, you will need to have your specialty recognized. 

If you want to work in the public health system, you will need to complete all three steps. If you are interested in working in the private sector, you might be able to do that by completing the first two steps. For most people, the process of having your credentials recognized can take a couple years.

For information about the Italian Health Care System, the work culture, and immigration check out our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Italy.

Fluency in Italian is Required

To practice medicine in Italy, fluency in Italian is required.  You might want to start learning Italian sooner rather than later since even the instructions on how to apply for the recognition of your medical credentials on the website of the Ministry of Health are in Italian. If you don’t know the language, Google translate may be helpful initially, but you will need an Italian friend or a certified translator to help you along your way.

The Ministry of Health is in the process of translating the instructions and documents on the website into English, but the time frame for this translation is unclear. In general, the documents you provide throughout the process need to be translated into Italian and must be certified to be a true translation.

Step One: Recognition of Medical Degree

For those who attended medical school in the US (or another non-EU country), you will need to apply to the Italian Health Ministry or Ministero della Salute, for assessment and approval of your medical degree. The application typically involves: 

  • Proof that you are licensed to practice medicine in the United States
  • A certificate of good standing, typically from your state medical board
  • A criminal background check
  • A Certified copy of your medical diploma as well as a detailed curriculum indicating the duration of medical school, content of courses, number of hours of theoretical and clinical teaching, and the results of exams taken during medical school.  
  • A Declaration of Value, Dichiarazione di Valore, by the Italian embassy in the country where the medical degree was obtained, certifying, amongst other things, that the medical degree was awarded by a competent authority and that the medical degree awarded is valid and qualifies an individual to practice medicine in the country of origin. 
  • Certificate of any training detailing the clinical work carried out after issuing the medical degree
  • Application fee, currently 16 euros

Gathering appropriate documentation for recognition of your medical degree can take a very long time, though once submitted, the Ministry of Health states that they will come to a decision within 4 months. The Ministry of Health may accept your application outright or, more commonly, they may require you to obtain additional training, demonstrate proof of fluency in Italian, and take a medical knowledge exam at an Italian University. 

Step Two: Esame Di Stato and Registration

Once your medical credentials are recognized by the Ministero, you might be asked to complete a National Exam, Esame Di Stato, to get your official Italian medical license. This exam is offered twice a year and consists of a three-month internship (one month each in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Surgery), followed by a written test. ***Update: For now, the written test has been eliminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it remains unclear if it will be reinstated at some point in the future.***

When you pass this exam, the Ministry then grants you the right to practice medicine in Italy, and you will be asked to register to your local medical board, the albo, of practicing providers (you will have to pay a recurring fee to them). ***Due to the COVID-19 you can be abilitato with the three-month internship only, which is offered three times a year now. *** You must register to the local board of where you have your primary residence or place of work but that doesn’t prevent you from working in other Italian regions as well. Once you are registered, you might be able to moonlight and/or work for some private clinics, but it is best to check with the local Albo and the private practice to make sure you are in compliance. 

Step Three: Recognition of Medical Specialty

Once your medical degree is recognized, you can then apply for recognition of your specialty. This application typically requires: 

  • Proof of current Italian medical registration
  • Certified copy of your residency and or fellowship qualification. This should include a detailed description of the clinical training, location, duration, curriculum, and examinations. 
  • Declaration of Value, Dichiarazione di Valore, by the Italian Embassy in the country where the specialist degree was obtained, certifying, amongst other things, that the specialist qualification was awarded by a competent authority and that the qualification is valid and qualifies an individual to practice within that specialty in the country where the training was obtained. 
  • Certification of all clinical activity since training
  • Certificate of good standing within your specialty
  • Current CV
  • Application fee, currently 16 euros 

Once again, gathering these documents to the standards stipulated by the Ministry of Health may take a long time. Once submitted the Ministry states that they will reach a decision within 4 months

Bottom Line

For most people, the process of having your medical credentials recognized can take a couple years. Given the many barriers to practicing medicine in Italy, it can be the right career move for those physicians that are committed to living in Italy for the long-term. For more information on the Italian Health Care system, the work culture, and immigration, check out our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Italy. I hope you find this information useful and wish you the best in your next career and life move! 

Valentina Cimolai, MD is an Italian-born physician who moved to the United Stated in 2012, after graduating from medical school at the University of Milan-Bicocca. She is now triple board-certified in Child/Adolescent Psychiatry, Adult Psychiatry, and Integrative Medicine. In 2021, along with Dr Roberta Zanzonico, Dr Cimolai co-founded Bloom Psychiatry And Wellness: a boutique telepsychiatry practice that focuses on the specific needs of women and girls. Valentina and Roberta are currently seeing patients in Florida and about to expand the practice in New York and California. 

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