Board of Physical Therapy
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the qualifications for licensure as a Physical Therapist?
- Is eighteen years of age or more;
- Is a graduate of a school of physical therapy approved by the American Physical Therapy Association or is a graduate of a school outside of the United States or Canada which is acceptable to the Board; and
- Has satisfactorily passed an examination approved by the Board.
What are the qualifications for licensure as a Physical Therapist Assistant?
- Is eighteen years of age or more;
- Is a graduate of a two-year college-level education program for physical therapist assistants acceptable to the Board; and
- Has satisfactorily passed an examination approved by the Board.
How do I determine if my PT or PTA program is accepted by the Board?
Please visit www.capteonline.org to locate a list of acceptable PT and PTA programs.
May I still apply if my program is not approved?
Yes. Please follow the instructions for graduates of non-approved programs.
Do you have licensure by endorsement?
Yes. A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who holds a current, unrestricted license in the United States, its territories, the District of Columbia, or Canada, may be licensed in Virginia by endorsement.
How long does the licensure applications remain on file?
With the exception of school transcripts, examination scores and verification from other state boards, all parts of the application package shall be submitted at the same time. An incomplete package shall be retained by the board for one year, after which time, the application shall be destroyed and a new application and fee required.
What are the qualifications to apply for a Direct Access Certification?
A. An applicant for certification to provide services to patients without a referral as specified in § 54.1-3482.1 of the Code of Virginia shall hold an active, unrestricted license as a physical therapist in Virginia and shall submit evidence satisfactory to the board that he has one of the following qualifications:
- Completion of a transitional program in physical therapy as recognized by the board; or
- At least three years of postlicensure, active practice with evidence of 15 contact hours of continuing education in medical screening or differential diagnosis, including passage of a postcourse examination. The required continuing education shall be offered by a provider or sponsor listed as approved by the board in 18VAC112-20-131 and may be face-to-face or online education courses.
On July 1, 2015 a new law went into effect allowing a physical therapist that was originally licensed as a physical therapist in Virginia with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from a program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education is no longer required to obtain Direct Access certification.
The traineeship shall be conducted in a facility that (i) serves as a clinical education facility for students enrolled in an accredited program educating physical therapists in Virginia, (ii) is approved by the board, and (iii) is served under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
How many hours are required for a traineeship for a non-approved program graduate?
The traineeship program shall consist of 1,000 hours of continuous training in a facility that serves as an education facility for students enrolled in an accredited program educating physical therapists in Virginia and is approved by the board.
How many trainees may a licensed PT supervise?
A physical therapist shall provide direct supervision to no more than three individual trainees at any one time.
What are the different types of supervision for a trainee?
"Direct supervision" means a physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant is physically present and immediately available and is fully responsible for the physical therapy tasks or activities being performed.
"General supervision" means a physical therapist shall be available for consultation.
A physical therapist shall provide direct supervision to a student in an approved program who is satisfying clinical educational requirements in physical therapy. A physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant shall provide direct supervision to a student in an approved program for physical therapist assistants.
A physical therapist shall provide direct supervision to no more than three individual trainees at any one time.
Support personnel shall only perform routine assigned tasks under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist or a licensed physical therapist assistant, who shall only assign those tasks or activities that are nondiscretionary and do not require the exercise of professional judgment.
A physical therapist shall be fully responsible for any action of persons performing physical therapy functions under the physical therapist's supervision or direction.
A physical therapist assistant’s visits to a patient may be made
under general supervision.
What is required to be scheduled for the national examination?
Please go to FSBPT website at www.fsbpt.org to register for the examination online. For graduates of CAPTE-accredited programs, FSBPT will determine eligibility for examination and approve any request for testing accommodations.
What is required to be scheduled for the state exam?
There is no state exam requirement.
What is required for licensure after taking the national exam?
A completed application and official transcript verifying graduation date and degree awarded information is required.
The online examination application for licensure can be found by clicking on the link "Applications and Forms" on the Boards website.
When are licenses renewed?
A person who desires to renew their license needs to renew by December 31 of each even numbered year. Licensees may renew their license by going to Online Licensing.
Do I need to notify the Board if I choose not to renew my license, or if I retire from my profession?
No, your license will automatically expire if not renewed by the deadline. You do not need to notify the Board in any way.
How many hours of continuing education are required to renew?
A total of 30 hours of Continuing Education and at least 320 hours of active practice in the preceding four years.
1. A minimum of 20 of the contact hours required for physical therapists and 15 of the contact hours required for physical therapist assistants shall be in Type 1 courses. For the purpose of this section, "course" means an organized program of study, classroom experience or similar educational experience that is directly related to the clinical practice of physical therapy and approved or provided by one of the following organizations or any of its components:
a. The Virginia Physical Therapy Association;
b. The American Physical Therapy Association;
c. Local, state or federal government agencies;
d. Regionally accredited colleges and universities;
e. Health care organizations accredited by a national accrediting organization granted authority by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assure compliance with Medicare conditions of participation;
f. The American Medical Association--Category I Continuing Medical Education course;
g. The National Athletic Trainers Association;
h. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy;
i. The National Strength and Conditioning Association; or
j. Providers approved by other state licensing boards for physical therapy.
One credit hour of a college course shall be considered the equivalent of 15 contact hours of Type 1 continuing education.
2. No more than 10 of the contact hours required for physical therapists and 15 of the contact hours required for physical therapist assistants may be Type 2 activities or courses, which may or may not be offered by an approved organization but which shall be related to the clinical practice of physical therapy. For the purpose of this subdivision, Type 2 activities may include:
a. Consultation with colleagues, independent study, and research or writing on subjects related to practice.
b. Delivery of physical therapy services, without compensation, to low-income individuals receiving services through a local health department or a free clinic organized in whole or primarily for the delivery of health services for up to two of the Type 2 hours.
c. Attendance at a meeting of the board or disciplinary proceeding conducted by the Board for up to two of the Type 2 hours.
d. Classroom instruction of workshops or courses.
e. Clinical supervision of students and research and preparation for the clinical supervision experience.
Forty hours of clinical supervision or instruction shall be considered the equivalent of one contact hour of Type 2 activity.
What continuing education courses are acceptable?In order for a continuing education course to be approved by the board, it shall be related to the practice of Physical Therapy.
How long do licensees maintain their continuing education documentation?
The licensee shall retain his records on the completed form with all supporting documentation for a period of four years following the renewal of an active license.
Are there any exemptions or extensions in obtaining continuing education?
The board may grant an extension of the deadline for continuing competency requirements for up to one year for good cause shown upon a written request from the licensee prior to the renewal date.
The board may grant an exemption for all or part of the requirements for circumstances beyond the control of the licensee, such as temporary disability, mandatory military service, or officially declared disasters, upon a written request from the licensee prior to the renewal date.
I am an active duty serviceperson that missed my renewal because of deployment outside of the United States. Is there an exemption?
An extension for your renewal will be granted for 60 days after your return to the United States. No late fee will be charged. No extensions granted shall exceed five years from the date of the expiration.
Requirements for Active Duty Extension of Renewal:
A Copy of Military Orders or form DD214 placing the licensee on active duty outside the United States.
How do you reinstate a PT or PTA license?
A: A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant whose Virginia license is lapsed for two years or less may reinstate his license by payment of the renewal and late fees as set forth in 18VAC112-20-150 and completion of continued competency requirements as set forth in 18VAC112-20-131.
B. A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant whose Virginia license is lapsed for more than two years and who is seeking reinstatement shall:
1. Apply for reinstatement and pay the fee specified in 18VAC112-20-27;
2. Complete the number of continuing competency hours required for the period in which the license has been lapsed, not to exceed four years; and
3. Have actively practiced physical therapy in any jurisdiction in which the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant was licensed for active practice for at least 320 hours within the four years immediately preceding applying for reinstatement.
If a licensee does not meet the requirement for active practice, the license may be reinstated by completing 320 hours in a traineeship that meets the requirements prescribed in 18VAC112-20-140.
Please click on the link "Applications and Forms" to download the reinstatement application and detailed instructions on how to reinstate a Virginia license as well as review the regulations governing the practice of physical therapy.
How do you notify the board office of an address change and/or name change?
All address changes must in writing. You may use the Name and Address Change Form to submit your request. The request should include name, license number, and/or social security number, old and new address, and any other contact information changes. The address change may be faxed, E-mailed, or mailed to the board office. Address changes can also be made online by going to Online Licensing.
Name changes need to be submitted to the Board office with official documentation indicating the reason for the name change.
How do I obtain a duplicate copy of my license?
To obtain a duplicate license, submit a written request and a $5.00 check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia. Licensees may also obtain a duplicate license by going to Online Licensing.
How can I have my license verified to another state?
Effective November 01, 2019, the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy will implement an electronic process for Verification of Licensure. The Virginia Board of Physical Therapy electronically sends the Verification of Licensure with available public information to the jurisdiction that you designate.
To request an electronic verification of licensure to be sent to another licensing jurisdiction, please submit the Verification Form; include your full name, license number or social security number, your current mailing address and the email address of where you want the verification to be sent. Attach the required processing fee of $10.00 check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.
Allow five to seven business days for processing. The board verifies profession, license number, issue date, expiration date, how the licensee obtained Virginia licensure, and if there have been any disciplinary actions.
Verifications received without the required fee will not be processed.
Mail your request and fee to:
Board of Physical Therapy
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233-1463
You may also verify licensure information online by using License Lookup.
Why has the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy (VBOPT) implemented a criminal background check for licensure?
Effective January 1, 2020, the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy (VBOPT) has implemented criminal background checks (CBCs) under Virginia Code Section 54.1-3484 to protect the public, especially the vulnerable populations that Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants serve. While applicants are required to self-disclose criminal conviction histories, the VBOPT has found that these self-reports are not always reliable. Additionally, Virginia participates in the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact (Compact) which allows physical therapist and physical therapist assistants to practice in Compact member states on a privilege authorized by the Physical Therapy Compact Commission. The Compact’s goal is to promote consistent standards among all member states with the implementation of CBCs for licensure.
Why isn’t it good enough for applicants to self-disclose a history of criminal activity?
Currently, the VBOPT requires applicants to self-disclose criminal conviction histories and makes licensure decisions based on those self-reports and, where necessary, the court records that are subsequently obtained. The VBOPT processes approximately 1,200-1,500 licensure applications a year. The new CBC process is the mechanism to ensure that the VBOPT is fully aware of an applicant’s criminal history before determining eligibility for a license in order to adequately protect the public.
Who is required by the VBOPT to receive a criminal background check?
All Physical Therapist (PT) and Physical Therapist Assistants (PTA) applicants seeking initial licensure by examination, endorsement or reinstatement are required to obtain a CBC.
Will I be required to obtain a criminal background check when I renew my license?
No, CBC requirements do not apply to licensure renewal applicants.
If I am applying for license endorsement or reinstatement, how far in advance from when I plan to begin working should I get fingerprinted in order to expedite my approval of licensure?
You may request a CBC once your application and fee are received by VBOPT (See FAQs related to fingerprinting process).
I currently have a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant license in the state of Virginia, do I need to obtain a criminal background check or will I be grandfathered in?
No, the CBC requirements do not apply to currently licensed PTs or PTAs in Virginia.
If I recently moved to Virginia from a Compact state, do I need to have another criminal background check?
Yes, CBCs are required if a PT/PTA licensure application is submitted to the VBOPT, including by endorsement from another state. Boards of Physical Therapy may not share CBC information with each other.
I am a new graduate; can I take the NPTE while my application is being processed and reviewed?
If you submitted an application for licensure by examination and you meet the applicable VBOPT regulation requirements, you may be eligible to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter prior to final review and processing of your application.
I’m a current student and wish to take the exam prior to graduation, do I need to wait until my CBC results are processed for I can take the exam?
No, if you submitted an application for licensure by examination and you meet the applicable VBOPT regulation requirements, you can take the examination prior to your CBC results being processed; however, licensure will not be granted until all requirements have been met.
Why is it necessary to obtain my fingerprints rather than running a search on my name?
Fingerprint-based background checks are processed through both FBI and state criminal databases presenting a complete criminal profile of the applicant. Conversely, non-fingerprint background checks or “name checks” are not nearly as comprehensive and run the applicants background against a limited amount of predetermined records which are commercially available. Therefore, a name search only would not give the VBOPT complete information.
Who is responsible for paying for the criminal background check and how much does it cost?
The applicant is responsible for paying for the criminal background check fee directly to Fieldprint Virginia. The cost is $35.95 for applicants inside Virginia and $38.95 for applicants outside Virginia.
I was recently fingerprinted by another agency do I still need to be fingerprinted for the VBOPT?
Yes, you will need to be fingerprinted for the VBOPT licensure process. Any fingerprints that you had collected in the past are not retrievable or transferable from other state or federal agencies.
Who will be obtaining the fingerprints for my criminal background check?
Your fingerprints will be collected at a Fieldprint Virginia site location.
Where can I get my fingerprints electronically processed?
You will get your fingerprints electronically processed by Fieldprint at a Fieldprint site location. Go to Fieldprint Virginia and click on “Our Locations” to find a location closest to you.
Is there a different fingerprinting process for out of state applicants?
If you are out of state, the process is similar to the one for applicants in Virginia, with the exception of the cost.
What about applicants from out of the country?
If you are out of the country, you will not be able to have your fingerprints collected until you are physically present in the United States.
Am I able to cancel or change my scheduled fingerprinting appointment if needed?
Yes, you will need to contact the Fieldprint appointment location you selected 24 hours prior to your appointment time to cancel or reschedule.
What do I need to bring with me to the electronic fingerprinting site?
Two (2) forms of identification, at least one (1) of which must be a valid government-issued photo ID and your appointment number (found on your appointment confirmation receipt received through Fieldprint Virginia).
How does the electronic fingerprinting process actually work?
Livescan (electronic) fingerprints are captured electronically, via a digital image that can be transmitted electronically; this provides for a faster and more accurate fingerprint collection process.
How long will it take for my fingerprints to be processed?
Results of fingerprint-based checks are typically processed within 2-4 business days. Note: Results are ultimately dependent upon processing times of the Virginia State Police (VSP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which are subject to change.
I am nearing graduation from my physical therapy program. How far in advance from my graduation date can I get fingerprinted in order to expedite my approval of examination?
You may request a CBC once your licensure application and fee are received by VBOPT.
Who has access to my fingerprints and criminal record?
The applicant's fingerprints are submitted directly to Fieldprint Virginia (contractor with VBOPT) and are electronically scanned through a secure site to the Virginia State Police (VSP) Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). No other entities have access to the applicant’s fingerprints. The criminal history record of arrests and prosecution (“RAP” sheet) will only be accessible by CBC staff.
How can I be assured that my fingerprints and personal information are kept safe and confidential?
Will my fingerprints be kept on record and for how long?
Fieldprint will maintain, archive and store all live-scan fingerprint transmissions to VSP for a time period specified by the CBC Unit. The main purpose of maintaining an archived database is to eliminate redundant fingerprinting of an applicant, in rare cases of lost prints or to satisfy any statutory record keeping / retention requirements.
What should I do if I am notified that my electronic fingerprints were lost or illegible?
Applicants should contact Fieldprint by accessing your account through Fieldprint Virginia directly to reschedule an appointment free of charge.
Criminal Background Check Results
Whose responsibility is it to make sure that the criminal background results are securely delivered to the VBOPT?
The Virginia State Police (VSP) Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) will submit results electronically via secure transmission or by confidential mail directly to the CBC Unit.
If I have a criminal history, what documents am I required to provide?
The burden is on the applicant to provide any documentation that would prove or disprove a criminal conviction, or if appropriate, provide any mitigating or aggravating evidence regarding a criminal conviction and proof of completed court ordered requirements.
If have a criminal history that includes an offense that was taken under advisement or deferred for a period of by a court, should I disclose this as a conviction?
If the offense did not result in a conviction or was dismissed then this information does not need to be disclosed on your licensure application.
Are there any convictions that are considered a permanent bar to licensure?
Each applicant is considered on a case-by-case basis. Virginia law related to physical therapy licensure does not include any permanent bars to licensure.
What criminal offenses on my criminal record may interfere with my ability to get licensed?
The VBOPT has published guidelines regarding the impact of criminal conviction history on licensure applications in accordance with state law, Virginia Code Section 54.1-3480 and regulations. The VBOPT may refuse to admit a candidate to any examination, or refuse to issue a license or certificate to any applicant with certain criminal convictions, including any felony or misdemeanors involving “moral turpitude.” Please see also VBOPT Guidance Document 112-23 for more detailed information.
Who is responsible for interpreting the results of the criminal background check?
The Board has delegated authority to the CBC Unit staff receives and interprets the CBC results.
Can I obtain a copy of my criminal background check results?
After the CBC Unit receives the results, they may not be disseminated further, even to the applicant in accordance with state/federal laws.
What if I disagree with the results on my criminal background check, can I challenge them?
You will have an opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the results, in accordance with the Applicant's Rights (See: How to Challenge and How to Obtain Your FBI Identity History Summary (FBI brochure) & Applicant Challenge Instructions (VSP).
Can the same criminal background check be used to satisfy the requirements for both the VBOPT and an employer?
No, the CBC Unit has no authority under the law to disseminate an applicant’s CBC results to another entity.
What does it mean that my application is 'non routine' and will this slow down or impair my licensure process?
A 'non-routine' application means that an applicant has disclosed or the CBC revealed information on their licensure application that may be grounds for a denial under Virginia Code Section 54.1-3480, to include criminal conviction history, possible impairment, or disciplinary action taken in other states. This will add time to the licensure application approval process.
Does the VBOPT have the right to deny my application for licensure or otherwise discipline my license to practice based on my criminal history record results?
Each applicant is considered on a case-by-case basis. Please refer to Guidance Document 112-23 for more information.
I have received a letter from the VBOPT that states my application cannot be approved based upon the criminal background check, but I do not have any convictions that are cause for licensure denial. Why would this occur?
Each applicant is considered on a case-by-case basis. Virginia law related to physical therapy licensure does not include any permanent bars to licensure. Please refer to Guidance Document 112-23 for more information.
If I do not pass the NPTE and have to reapply for licensure, will I have to resubmit fingerprints for another criminal background check? How long are the criminal record check results considered valid?
If you reapply for licensure by examination and it is has been over one year (1 yr.) from the date you previously completed the fingerprinting process for the VBOPT, you are required to have another fingerprint-based criminal background check.