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Seeking Deferment for the IBLCE Exam

Fingers grasping a full hourglass.

Due to COVID, this year’s exam dates have changed several times and have even been postponed. Test-takers have needed to be flexible and adapt to changes. That continues to be true. The IBLCE™ recently announced that September 2020 examination candidates may seek deferment for the IBLCE exam. The deferment allows candidates to test in 2021.

I admit, the deferment policy is less than clear, so you should read it for yourself and ask the IBLCE if you have questions. (I am not in any way the “official” voice here!)

What is the deferment policy?

The IBLCE says:

“if you are unable to take the examination this year, you may be able to defer to an examination in 2021 through IBLCE’s extraordinary circumstances policy.”

Furthermore, the Board lists extenuating circumstances including:

“COVID-19 related concerns, such as job loss of the candidate and/or partner/spouse, COVID-19 health issue for candidate or immediate family member, and/or concern for going into the public due to COVID-19.”

Who can seek deferment for the IBLCE exam?

The deferment is an option “for September 2020 examination candidates.”

The IBLCE’s website is less than clear, so we are making an assumption about the word “candidate.” We presume the word “candidate” means those who have applied for, paid, and been registered to take the IBLCE exam in 2020, but have not yet tested.

When are applications for the deferment due?

Applications to defer are due by October 30

Those who wish to defer and then sit for the IBLCE exam in 2021, whether the individual is a first-time test-taker or a re-certifier, must apply for a deferment for the IBLCE exam to 2021 by the October 30 deadline.

If I’m an IBCLC re-certifying by exam, how does the deferral work?

If you are an IBCLC™ planning to recertify by exam, you may request a 1-year extension to your current certification. However, you must:

  • apply for a deferment by the October 30 deadline and …
  • complete and submit 15 L-CERPs with your deferment request.

If you need the 15 L-CERPs to meet part of your deferment requirement, I can help you with individual and topical courses for L-CERPs. Get moving!

What I’ve just said ONLY addresses those who are re-certifying by exam and seeking a deferment for the IBLCE exam. CERPs appear to be another story. The IBLCE says:

This deadline remains September 30, 2020.

There is no mention of CERP deferment in this latest document. However, elsewhere on the IBLCE’s website, we did find this:

“IBLCE has an extraordinary circumstances policy, which has been broadened expressly in light of COVID-19. If you or an immediate family member is impacted by COVID-19 in terms of health, or you or your partner is unemployed due to COVID-19, the extraordinary circumstances policy is available to you. This simply requires that you apply for it and provide documentation along with proof of completing 15 L-CERPs. Please review the IBLCE Recertification by CERPs Extension Request Policy for more information.”

If your certification expires in 2020 and you plan to recertify by CERPs (instead of exam) ideally, you should complete your CERPs before September 30 — the date for recertifying by CERPs! If you are recertifying this year by CERPs, buy one of my 15-, 30– or 45– or 75 CERP packages.

Where do I submit my application for exam deferment?

Requests for deferment for the IBLCE exam must be made through the local office. You can find your local office on the IBLCE website. Contact your local office as soon as possible in order to complete the process.


This news was just released by IBLCE. There are still some uncertainties about exam-taking.

  • The deadline(s) to apply for the 2021 exam(s) has not been announced.
  • As of this writing, the IBLCE has not released the date(s) for the 2021 exam. For the last several years, there has been both a spring and fall exam.

My team and I have tried our best to interpret these rules, but we, too, feel a little uncertain about this deferment policy. It’s your responsibility to get the official answers.

If you have questions about deferment for the IBLCE exam, contact your local IBLCE office which you can find on IBLCE website. You might want to ask:

  • Does this deferment policy apply only to those who have already signed up for the exam in 2020? It appears so. However, this is still a little unclear to me and my team.
  • What happens if you are already an IBCLC whose certification will expire this year, but you never signed up for the exam?
  • What happens if you are a lapsed IBCLC?
  • If you failed the exam, and you are re-testing, what happens? Are you still considered a “candidate”?
  • What happens if your request for deferment is not accepted?

Our staff will be following closely as more information is released.

Are you seeking a deferment for the IBLCE exam? How are you obtaining your CERPs? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Cathryn Clark

    Hi Marie,
    I took the exam last Friday 9/25. It was my third time to sit- first took 1990.
    I was unable to complete the exam due to technical difficulties solely the fault of Prometrics- problems with their server and being disconnected from the exam twice after completing 90 questions. I filed a complaint with IBLCE yesterday and requested a chance to re-schedule. Who knows where or when that will go. Thanks for this info. I will try to apply for the 1 year deferment. I would like to get the 15 l-CERPs from you.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh, Cathryn, I am soooooooo sorry to hear this. I cannot imagine what a horrible experience that must have been. I feel so badly for you. Meanwhile, you could start the 15 CERP now. Here is our “COVID Deferment” package. If there is anything else we can do to help you, please let me know. Again, I’m so sorry this was so stressful for you. –Marie

  2. Cathryn Clark

    Thank you for your empathetic response. I cried myself to sleep that night.
    Helping moms and their babies with breastfeeding became my life’s work over the past 30 years. It could be over for me. I did get a response from IBLCE this afternoon basically saying they have staff looking into this and asking me to be patiently awaiting their decision. If I do get a deferment , I will want to get the L-CERPs from you.
    Thank you,
    Cathryn Lynn Bohm Clark

  3. Marie Biancuzzo

    Oh Cathryn. I really get it about the “life’s work” and I’m so glad that I tested last year. Try not to think of this as being “over” for you. It’s not over yet. And the good news is that IBLCE actually got back to you! Cathryn, in your case, I don’t know if you need a “deferment” or not; this seems a little “different” than the usual reasons for deferment, but honestly, I don’t entirely understand the deferment process. I do want to caution you, though: I am certain that the deferment application requires the CERPs to be submitted WITH the deferment application. So your first step is to see if this requires a deferment, I honestly don’t know. Let me know if I can help in any way. I feel so badly for you.

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