Were you educated outside of Canada?

If you graduated from an occupational therapy program outside of Canada (regardless of whether or not you are Canadian), and you intend to apply to register in Canada after May 1, 2015, here is what you need to know:

  • As of May 1, 2015, all internationally-educated occupational therapists will begin their registration process with ACOTRO before applying to a provincial regulator. All applicants will be required to apply to ACOTRO's Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS). SEAS will cost applicants $3,100, and will determine whether or not an applicant's education and competencies are substantially equivalent to those of a Canadian-educated occupational therapist.
  • Learn more about the first step in the registration process, the Substantial Equivalency Assessment System, here.
  • Once you are deemed substantially equivalent, ACOTRO will grant you eligibility to write the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination, and ask you to contact the provincial regulator in the province in which you wish to practice to continue the registration process.
  • Each of Canada’s provinces has its own occupational therapy regulations (as set out by the government in that province), eligibility rules and language skill requirements.
  • Occupational therapists in most provinces and territories must take the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination offered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. Only applicants to Quebec need not write the national exam.
  • To live and work in Canada, you must apply for immigration status.

If you graduated from an occupational therapy program outside of Canada (regardless of whether or not you are Canadian), and you intend to apply to register in Canada before May 1, 2015, here is what you need to know:

If applying to register in Canada before May 1, 2015, there are a number of steps you need to follow in order to practice as an OT in Canada. These help ensure that OTs entering Canada have the education and practical training that is equivalent to that of a Canadian-educated OT. While the process varies by province, you can expect to go through the following general steps:

Step 1

Check with the regulator in the province in which you wish to practice for eligibility rules and language skill requirements.

Step 2

Meet the language skill requirements. You may do so by showing evidence of your fluency in English or French, or that your first language is either English or French. You may need to demonstrate that English or French is the language in which you completed your OT training. If you are asked to improve your language skills, you will be required to complete language training either before you come to Canada, or once you arrive.

Step 3

Request that the university at which you were educated send official education transcripts and course descriptions directly to the provincial regulator.

Step 4

Submit your registration application form along with the appropriate fees as set by the provincial regulator in the province where you want to work.

Step 5

Your academic credentials will be assessed by an assessment agency to verify the authenticity of your documents, and to evaluate the credentials of the institution or program from which you have graduated.

Step 6

The registrar will examine the range of courses, the course content, hours and language of instruction, and hours and nature of practical work performed to evaluate the extent to which your education and training is equivalent to that of a Canadian-educated OT.

Step 7

Show proof that you have been actively practicing as an occupational therapist.

Step 8

Provide proof of liability insurance that will allow you to practice in Canada. Each of the provincial websites offers guidance on how to secure insurance.

Step 9

Complete and pass the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination, unless you are applying to register in Quebec. If you already have an offer of employment with supervision, you can seek a provisional registration that allows you to begin working, as long as you are registered to take the next available National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination.

Step 10

Some regulators may ask you to show proof that you are eligible to work in Canada.

Step 11

Allow the Registration Committee to make its decision and notify you of the outcome. This can take a minimum of one month and as long as one year.

Step 12

You may receive provisional practicing certification, which means that you will be able to practice as you await your full certification to work in the province of your choice.  During this period, you may be required to upgrade your skills, education or competencies.

Step 13

Once you have met the requirements and completed the registration process, you will receive a general practicing certificate for occupational therapy from the provincial regulatory body.

Once registered, your registration is valid until the renewal date set by that provincial regulator.  When it is time to re-register, you will not be asked to repeat the process above.  Instead, you will be asked to demonstrate proof of continuing competence as defined by each of the regulators. Visit the provincial regulatory sites to learn about the process for renewing your registration on an annual basis.

Please note that your registration is valid only in the province in which you registered. If you wish to move to another province in Canada, you must re-register. Again, the steps to take to re-register are set out on the website of each provincial regulator.

Visit the Internationally Educated Occupational Therapists’ (IEOT) portal, GoCanadaOT, or the Occupational Therapy Examination and Practice Preparation Project – OTEPP website for more information on working as an OT in Canada.  For information on immigrating to Canada or obtaining a work permit, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada.