WERE YOU EDUCATED OUTSIDE OF CANADA?

If you completed your occupational therapy education outside of Canada (regardless of whether or not you are Canadian) and intend to work in a province other than Quebec, you are required to complete the Substantial Equivalency Assessment System process (SEAS) to verify your qualifications and competencies. All other registration requirements, including your professional and employment eligibility, will be managed by the provincial regulator in the province you wish to practice in. If you are an internationally educated occupational therapist (IEOT) wanting to work in Quebec, learn more here.

Registration Steps for IEOTs

1. All IEOTs begin their registration process with ACOTRO by applying to SEAS to determine if their education and competencies are substantially equivalent to those of Canadian-educated OTs.

Substantially equivalent means that an applicant’s qualifications and competence are equivalent to that of a Canadian-educated OT. This is determined through the SEAS process, which takes into consideration the collective education of all Canadian OT programs, as opposed to replicating only one.

2. If your credentials are deemed substantially equivalent, you will need to apply to a provincial regulator from the province in which you wish to work to confirm all other registration requirements and to be granted eligibility to write the National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE).

Note: IEOTs who have successfully completed SEAS and are registered with a regulatory body may apply to work with a restricted provisional license while waiting to write the exam. Information can be obtained from your provincial regulator.

3. If you wish to live and work in Canada but are not a Canadian citizen, you must also apply for immigration status and obtain a work permit. Visit Immigration and Citizenship Canada for more information.

Annual Renewal of Registration

Your registration with a provincial regulator must be renewed annually (the date is set by the provincial regulator) by demonstrating proof of continuing competence. Please refer to the website of your provincial regulator for information on demonstrating continuing competence.

Note: The SEAS process is completed only once, prior to registration with a provincial regulator, and is not part of the annual registration renewal process.

Note: Your registration is valid only in the province in which you are registered. If you move to another province, you must register with a provincial regulator there. Canada’s Labour Mobility Support Agreement makes the process straightforward. Learn more here.

FAQs — Internationally Educated Occupational Therapists (IEOTs)

What is an internationally educated occupational therapist (IEOT)?

An IEOT is anyone who has completed their OT education from an institution outside of Canada. This includes Canadians who received their education abroad.

I am an IEOT and would like to practice in Canada. How do I begin?

All IEOTs begin their registration process by applying to the Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS). This process will assess whether or not your education and competencies are substantially equivalent to those of a Canadian-educated OT.

I earned my degree in a country that is a member of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT). Can I work as an OT in Canada?

No. Your degree does not automatically qualify you to work in Canada. You will need to successfully complete the SEAS process and meet the requirements of the provincial regulator in the province in which you wish to work.

Do I need a degree from a Canadian university to work as an OT in Canada?

No, but your OT education will need to be deemedsubstantially similar to a Canadian degree, meaning it has prepared you to work as an OT and your experience includes at least 1,000 hours of clinical fieldwork. Learn more about working in Canada here.

How long does the registration process take?

Registration with a provincial regulator begins after you have successfully completed the SEAS process. The time it will take to complete the provincial regulatory registration process will depend on the completeness of your application, your circumstances, and the registration process in the province you are applying to. Visit the site of your provincial regulator to learn more.

If I relocate to another province, will I have to register again?

Yes. Registration is regulated provincially, so if you move to a new province, you must register there. You will not, however, need to go through the SEAS process a second time. Learn more by visiting the website of the provincial regulator to which you are applying.

Do I need to complete an English or French test to practice as an OT in Canada?

To participate in SEAS, applicants must a SEAS Language Assessment to determine if their English or French language skills are adequate for the purpose of completing the SEAS process.

When you register to practice, your provincial regulator may also require that you demonstrate language proficiency in English or in French, depending on which province you choose to practice in. Applicants to Quebec, for example, must demonstrate French-language fluency. Learn more by visiting the website of the provincial regulator to which you are applying.

Do my work hours in my home country count towards my currency hours in Canada?

Yes. However, the number and calculation of currency hours required for registering in Canada varies from province to province. Learn more by visiting the website of the provincial regulator to which you are applying.

Do my work hours in my home country count towards my currency hours in Canada?

Yes. However, the number and calculation of currency hours required for registering in Canada varies from province to province. Learn more by visiting the website of the provincial regulator to which you are applying.

What is the difference between a provincial regulator and a professional society/association?

The practice of occupational therapy in Canada is regulated at the provincial level by 10 provincial members that work together to protect the public by regulating the practice of occupational therapy in their respective provinces. These provincial regulators are members of ACOTRO (Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations).

A professional society/association is a voluntary, non-regulatory body that provides professional development and networking opportunities to its members. You can find links to all the provincial/territorial professional associations listed on the CAOT (Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists) website here.

How do I find an OT job in Canada?

OT jobs are often listed on the websites of hospitals, government health authorities, businesses, and schools. The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) is the national organization that supports occupational therapists.  Visit the CAOT website here for information on OT careers in Canada. You can also visit the websites of the provincial occupational therapy associations for career information.

Where can I learn more about registering and working as an OT in Canada?

First, visit the Registering in Canada section of this website. Then, visit the website of the provincial regulator in the province in which you wish to practice. Each provincial regulator will have a registration support person to guide you through the process.

For information on working as an OT in Canada, you can visit the website of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) or the provincial occupational therapy associations.

Will I have to write a test or exam?

Once registered, OTs in most provinces and territories must take the National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE) offered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). Only applicants to Quebec are exempt from the exam. Learn more here.

I want to come to Canada to work as an OT. Do I have to belong to an organization?

Beyond registering with the regulatory body in the province you wish to work in, you might be asked by your employer to join a union or another professional body, depending on your place of work.

Where can I find other IEOTs to network with?

Visit the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and the Provincial/Territorial Occupational Therapy Association.

[1] The exception will be IEOT applicants wishing to register in Quebec, who will be required to complete that province’s assessment process.