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What You Need to Know About Recertifying

Updated December 2023 (originally published January 2022)

Woman wearing a blazer holding a tablet.

All IBCLCs must recertify every five years. These are the requirements for recertification:

  • Reaffirming adherence to the IBLCE Code of Professional Conduct
  • Completing basic life support education
  • Accruing 250 hours of practice in lactation consulting
  • Recertifying by CERPs or by exam

In years past, basic life support education was a requirement for only first-timers. Now, a basic life support course is a requirement for recertificants as well.

Per IBLCE’s Recertification Guide, “a didactic basic life support course will be sufficient to meet the requirement.” In case of audit, a card or certificate must be submitted as proof of basic life support education.

Current clinical practice requirements

First-time candidates have always been required to accrue hundreds of current clinical hours. Now, clinical practice is a requirement for both first-time test-takers and recertificants, but with fewer required hours for those recertifying.

Recertificants must accrue 250 hours of practice in lactation consulting during the five-year recertification cycle. The Lactation Specific Clinical Practice Calculator can be downloaded from the IBCLC Commission’s website to assist with computing these hours.

Take heart. This is easier than it sounds. If you spend your entire eight-hour shift completely focused on breastfeeding and lactation, that means that you’ve completed your 250-hour requirement after working 31 eight-hour shifts.

Note the definition of “clinical practice.” According to IBLCE, these “clinical practice” hours can be in the areas of

  • education,
  • administration,
  • research,
  • clinical practice, or
  • advocacy.

Options for recertifying

Here’s what remains the same: IBCLCs must recertify every five years.

Here’s what’s different:

In years past, IBCLCs have always had the option to recertify either by examination or by CERPs at the five-year mark. But they have been required to take the exam at the 10-year mark.

As of 2022, IBLCE no longer requires recertificants to take the exam. The IBCLC may choose to recertify by exam or by CERPs, every time they recertify.

Option 1: Recertifcation by exam

While certifying by exam every 10 years is no longer a requirement, it does remain an option.

As in recent years, IBLCE offers the examination twice per year, generally in the spring and fall, with the spring exam offered only in English.

The format of the exam remains largely unchanged. The exam is 175 multiple-choice questions which come from disciplines listed on the IBCLC Detailed Content Outline. See the Detailed Content Outline on the IBCLC Commission’s website.

Option 2: Recertification by CERPs with self-assessment

For those IBCLCs choosing to recertify by CERPs, IBLCE now requires a continuing education self-assessment. This component “helps IBCLCs demonstrate the comprehensive knowledge and skills required to practise as an IBCLC.”

The CE self-assessment is a free, computer-based assessment administered by IBLCE. Based on the IBCLC’s responses, the assessment generates a Personalised Professional Development Plan (PPDP). It is important to note that the IBCLC may take this assessment only once every five years. There is no pass/fail scoring for this assessment. The results do not affect your certification other than to determine in which topic areas you will need to earn CERPs.

The PPDP outlines the topic areas and the number of CERPs required to cover the IBCLC’s weak areas and fulfill the PPDP.

Our CERP Bundles are designed to fulfill your recertification CERP requirements. Our 75-CERP Bundle is guaranteed to meet all PPDP requirements, as well as all other requirements for recertifying by CERPs. Each certificate you earn will list the topic/discipline covered by that course as well as the number and type of CERPs earned. If you need additional help, reach out to us at

Above all, it’s important to follow the guidance provided in the IBLCE’s Recertification Guide as well as the Steps, Deadlines, and FAQs on the IBCLC Commission’s website.

Are you recertifying soon? Have you taken the self-assessment? Share your experiences and questions in the comments section below!

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  1. Jean Gloria

    My license will not expire until December 2025. I have not start my CERP’s requirement. I still work full time as a mother/baby nurse and work per deim as lactation consultant in another hospital. I would like to start the requirements now,what ‘s your recommendation? I did my 90 hour requirements and on line review course with Breastfeeding Outlook .Please advise me what to do so I can complete all the requirements before 2025.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Jean, hi, nice to see you again!

      OK, some stuff to unpack here.

      1) Are you talking about your RN license? You said “license” but I don’t think that’s what you mean. (From a legal standpoint, there is a vast difference between licensure and certification.) I’m thinking you mean certification, because your next question is about CERPs. So I’ll proceed that way.

      2) Clinical hours. Your hours “start” as soon as you have your test results. So if you passed last month, then you can start accruing both your clinical hours and your CERPs any time now. And if you are working full time, by the end of this month, you will have met or nearly met your entire requirement for the clinical hours, presuming that you spend 100% of your day doing breastfeeding-related care. (Otherwise, just do the math.)

      3) CERPs: First, none of your 90 hours “count.” Again, as soon as you pass the exam, it — as I like to say — wipes the slate clean. So you need to start from zero right now.

      4) CERPs and the self-assessment. It’s not clear to me if you can take the self-assessment before 2025. Or maybe you can? Please check that carefully. But it probably won’t do you much good to start acquiring the CERPs until you do the Assessment. I don’t know; this is new to me, too!

  2. Kim Cook

    My situation is similar to Jean. I received my certification as an IBCLC in December of 2020. So are they saying we need to do the self assessment in 2024? Also the calculator says 2021 cerifications, not 2020 so I’m wondering if that means we need less hours CERPS and/or clinical hours. I just did my clinical hours though and am well over already even with working approx. 25% lactation in NFP. Thanks for your blog and helping us out!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Kim, your questions raise a whole other layer of complexity. Remember, IBLCE doesn’t tell us anything more than they tell you. But here’s what I worry about.

      (1) If the person is re-certifying in 2022, they need 7 CERPs in their — I’ll call this “weak area.” But in 2023, it will be more than 7. (Without looking, I think 21.) So presumably in 2025, it will be even more in that “weak area.”

      (2) It’s not clear to me if you can take the assessment AND submit the CERPs this year if you’re not due to recertify until 2025. As far as I can recall, people have never been required to submit the CERPs on the year they are “up”, so I think they can submit early but I honestly don’t know. Personally, I never do the CERPs, I just take the Exam because I do the exam prep course and want to make sure my curriculum is hitting the right material. And, I can’t say I’ve ever heard people call us and say, “Oh, I’m submitting my CERPs this year but I’m not due until next year.” I can ask my team if they’ve ever taken such a call.

      (3) I worry that if people don’t understand how this all works, they will wait until the last few months to earn their CERPs. That’s a LOT of pressure.

      (4) I’m in an awkward spot. All I know is what IBLCE has published for the world to see. In late 2021, I did squawk to IBLCE and said — HEY! I need to know here! But I ended up with no more information than what they published a few weeks later. That doesn’t help me to take care of people like you. About the best I can do is to offer some sort of broad package, and then offer to swap out one program for another if the person who is re-certifying buys the wrong thing. Or something. My team and I are massively frustrated by all of this. Our job is to take care of people like you! And we will do that, we just haven’t yet figured out how!

      (5) Thank you for your kind comment. We do our best, and sometimes it feels like it’s just not enough. Thank you for helping me to keep on keeping on!

  3. Bracha Haskel

    I must admit I was very surprised at how hard it was to take the assessment, mostly because I couldn’t figure out which answer they were looking for! That’s the reason that I don’t want to take the test again! And this being said as a native English speaker in a foriegn country! (woe to those who don’t have English as their mother tongue)
    I am recertifying after 20 years. I go to many conferences and courses (these days online), work privately as an IBCLC, keep up to date through facebook and whatsapp groups.
    I felt that many questions were totally out of our scope of practice…
    So maybe you should work on a “prepare for the assessment”! I thought that 19 years as a practicing IBCLC would be enough to do well… I was wrong.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh Bracha, this is very concerning! I hear ya. You felt you had every advantage with experience, being a native English speaker and so forth.

      A few things jump out at me, though. Going to conferences and social media and so forth is, in my opinion, highly unlikely to prepare the person for for any kind of IBLCE “thing.” (Meaning, the exam, or, in this case, the assessment.) Why so? Because I doubt that they base their questions on those sources. In fact, I don’t think they base their questions on whatever might interest you or me or anyone else. They base questions on those 7 disciplines.

      I love your idea for a “prepare for the assessment” but I’ve never taken the assessment, and I’m not even sure if I’m eligible to take the assessment! I’m not up for recertification until 2024, and I’m not sure if the assessment can be taken “early” or not. I want to take the exam because I offer a review course, and I want an insider view of what they are expecting on the exam.

      Wish I could be more helpful here. Sigh…

  4. Sarah Galis-Menendez

    Hi Marie! I just wanted to clarify that, after taking the Self Assessment, we still have to complete 75 CERP’s? The difference is mainly that a percentage of those CERP’s have to be in your “weak” area(s) with more flexibility in the remainder of the CERP’s? It’s not that you only need 7 CERP’s this year? Thank you!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Sarah, yes, that I my understanding. Let me see if I can boil that down to a simple 3-step process for you, assuming that you are re-certifying this year. (1) Take the assessment from IBLCE (2) Using the “weak” areas they have identified, get your 7 CERPs in that area or areas, (3) Complete the remainder of your CERPs, as you ordinarily would.

      Remember, though, that the basic requirements are for the required L-CERPs and E-CERPs and total of 75 CERPs remains.

      I would urge you to carefully read an earlier post about the different types of CERPs. As far as I know, all of that is still true. It’s just that now, IBLCE specifies 7 of your CERPs.

      Please, please note, this is only for this year. In years coming, it won’t be just 7 CERPs in the “weak” areas. It will be more.

      And, as always, remember, I do not work for IBLCE. I’m just giving my understanding of what I believe they are asking for. I take no responsibility for what you do based on my interpretation and understanding. You should always check their website.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Mary Arthur

    I just took the self assessment and the questions were definitely made to reflect the 7 areas of study required to be an IBCLC. I have been a nurse for 32 years and mother/baby nurse for 25 years and an IBCLC for 5 years and I ended up requiring education in every area. I do think Maria Biancuzzo’s flash cards could have helped me with medication questions and pathology questions. I did not have any questions about anatomy. I will probably never know which ones I got wrong and which ones I got right. What I don’t know is how to tell which L-Cerp or E-Cerp qualifies to support each area of study. I guess I will have to email the IBCLE.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Mary, interesting. In my experience, yes, the pharmacology and the pathology seem to be troublesome for almost everyone. I chuckle when people say they didn’t have any questions about anatomy. I think people are expecting that “anatomy” means that the question will ask the location of some anatomical part, or something like that. But rarely does “anatomy” show up that way on the IBCLC exam. Rather, the question is more along the lines of having to know anatomy and physiology as it relates to breastfeeding and lactation. Meaning, the question won’t be just straight recall of an anatomical part. Rather, it will be how you apply your knowledge of those facts to the question. As far as knowing which L-CERPs to complete in order to re-certify: I haven’t actually done this. But my understanding is that they will send you a specific “prescription” of what to do. I am running a free webinar where people will have the chance to ask questions, if you’d like to come. Be happy to have you along! But hurry! It’s this afternoon!

  6. Jean Gloria

    Thank you for all the information.I am planning to take my self assessment hopefully before summer ends.My IBCLC licence expiring December 2025.I am hoping I can take all my CERPs requirements with you,since I really did well with my preparation of my IBCLC exam.I did your 95 hours class and review on line class .I’m hoping to do my CERPS requirements with you again. Do I have to prepare for the self assessment evaluation or just take?
    Thanks Jean

  7. Tzipora Fuzaylov

    Hi Marie! Thank you for all that you do!
    I am very confused as to how to gather my 250 hours to recertify.
    I know you said:
    clinical practice, or
    I am just not sure exactly what constitutes as research or advocacy for example. I wish they delved into that a bit more or gave some examples of each.
    Also, how do I record things like this on a sheet?
    I know that there is a specific sheet to calculate it on but I’m not sure how to navigate it as an IBCLC in private practice.
    I would really appreciate any help you can give me in this area of confusion.
    Thanks for your time!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Hi Tzipora,
      Hope I can shed some light on this “recertify” requirement. Sounds like you came to my webinar and I said education, administration, research, clinical practice, advocacy. But didn’t get detailed about it on the webinar, because I don’t fully understand it myself! As you know, I am not an official representative for IBLCE, so you can understand my hesitancy. I’d suggest you go to the primary source. Here’s the link: Scroll down until you come to the part that says, “I am due to recertify this year” and you’ll see the bit about education, clinical practice and so forth.
      I’m guessing that you want to know about the meaning of clinical practice, i.e., “In-person, telephone, or online breastfeeding and lactation care to breastfeeding families.” They don’t say what, exactly, that is for recertifiers. I’m assuming it’s the same as it would be for first-time candidates. For first-time candidates, IBLCE says clinical practice means: “Provide in-person consultations, telephone consultations, or online breastfeeding and lactation care that supports breastfeeding families, including lactation assistance to pregnant and breastfeeding clients and lactation education to families and/or professionals.”
      Let me assure you that clinical practice is not limited to “babies at breast.” It could be counseling the mother about the feeding decision during pregnancy, teaching a mother how to pump for a baby whose health is too compromised to take oral feeding at this time, for example.
      Hope that helps, thanks for writing in!

  8. Kristina McDonald

    I’m do to recertify this year and plan to submit it at the end of April. As long as they verify that I’m recertified, can I restart building my 5 years of hours May 1st? Or what date can I start my next cycle of continuing education hours?

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