Internationally Educated Applicants
In order to register with the College, applicants must complete the Registration Application Form (PDF: 284kb) / Formulaire d'inscription (PDF: 195kb), and submit this form, with the applicable fee(s) (PDF: 16kb) and supporting documentation, to the College office.
Applicants who have graduated from an occupational therapy program outside of Canada are considered to be internationally educated. This includes Canadian citizens who have studied abroad. All internationally educated applicants must have their educational credentials and qualifications assessed to confirm eligibility to register with the College.
The College has established criteria for registration, in order to best protect the public interest and foster confidence in the competency of the profession. The Fact Sheet – Internationally Educated (PDF: 212kb) provides an outline of the registration process, timelines, and resources.
For information on immigrating to Canada or obtaining a work permit, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For more information on living and working in Ontario, visit Ontario Immigration and Health Force Ontario.
Length of Time Required to Complete the Registration Process
Once an applicant demonstrates that all registration requirements have been met, the application for registration may take up to 30 days to process. If the occupational therapy educational credentials need to be reviewed by the College, the registration process could take a considerably longer amount of time. Applicants, whose applications are referred to the Registration Committee, will receive notice of the referral and be given 30 days to make submissions to the Committee. The Registration Committee generally meets 6 - 8 times per year. Applications referred to the Registration Committee for review will typically take a minimum of 8 weeks to process. The registration process is not complete until an applicant is issued a College registration number.
A credential assessment is a registration requirement for internationally educated applicants. A credential assessment can take as little as 7 business days to complete if the credentialing agency has access to all of the information it requires. The process may take longer if the required information is not readily available.
The Academic Equivalency Review process takes a variable length of time. The minimum length of time is 8 weeks however the process could take up to one year if the required documentation is not readily available and received by the College. The occupational therapy program course descriptions must be sent directly to the College by the academic institution. If the course descriptions are not adequate (contain gaps or missing information), the Registration Committee may provide the applicant with an opportunity to gather more information to ensure their application is as complete as possible. This process may require additional time as well.
Applicants, who do not meet other registration requirements such as legal authorization to work in Canada, or Language Fluency in English or French, shall not be considered eligible for a certificate of registration until all requirements have been met.
Document-By-Document Credential Evaluation Report
All applicants who have obtained their occupational therapy degree/diploma outside of Canada must have their academic qualifications assessed by a College-approved external credential agency. The applicant must arrange for the credential agency to send a Basic Document-By-Document Credential Evaluation Report directly to the College. College-approved credentialing agencies include members of the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada. In the province of Ontario these services are provided by World Education Services (WES).
Labour Mobility Support Agreement (LMSA)
The Labour Mobility Support Agreement (LMSA) was developed and agreed upon by all of the occupational therapy regulators in Canada in support of the Agreement of Internal Trade (AIT), to promote the mobility of occupational therapists within Canada. If you are not currently registered to practise as an OT in another Canadian province, you are not eligible to apply under the LMSA.
If you wish to apply under the Labour Mobility Support Agreement, you must arrange for completion of the Labour Mobility Support Agreement Confirmation Form (PDF: 22kb) by the Canadian regulatory organization with which you are currently regulated. First, fill in the Authorization for Release of Information portion of the LMSA Form and then send it to the regulatory organization in the province from which you are applying. You must still complete all sections of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO) Registration Application Form (PDF: 284kb) / Formulaire d'inscription (PDF: 195kb), however the documents regarding your education, past regulatory history and examination will be forwarded to the COTO by your current regulatory organization as part of the LMSA. The OT should contact their present regulatory organization to inquire if there is a fee for completion of the LMSA Confirmation Form.
A Regulatory History Form (PDF: 60kb) confirming your current regulatory history is also required. Complete the Authorization for Release of Information portion of the form, send it to your current regulatory organization(s) and instruct them to return the completed form(s) directly to COTO.
Applicants who have graduated from a College approved OT program are not required to undergo an Academic Equivalency Review. Applicants who have not graduated from an approved program must have their academic program content assessed and approved by the Registration Committee of the College. This ensures the program meets minimum requirements to practise safely and competently in Ontario. The Registration Committee conducts an Academic Equivalency Review by comparing the occupational therapy course description and transcripts with the established Essential Competencies for Occupational Therapists in Canada, 3rd Edition, (2011). This is accomplished by using a tool developed for this purpose called the Academic Review Tool, (2012) (PDF: 254kb).
Legal Work Status
If the applicant is a Canadian citizen, a copy of the applicant's birth certificate, current passport, or Canadian Citizenship Card is required. If not a Canadian citizen, evidence of landed immigrant status, permanent resident status, or a work permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada is required. Forwarding a photocopy of the document, or both sides of a card, is sufficient. If the applicant does not meet this requirement, she or he may still begin the application process.
Proof of language fluency is required if an applicant's first language is not English or French, or if the language of OT instruction was not English or French. Applicants who have not graduated from an OT program where the language of instruction was English or French must demonstrate evidence of language fluency by completing a College-approved language test. Applicants are required to achieve an acceptable score (PDF: 17kb) both written and oral language tests. The College accepts score reports from Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS AC), TESTCan, and CanTEST.
Please refer to the following links for the College's Language Fluency policies:
All applicants are expected to adhere to values shared by society and the profession and to not have demonstrated conduct that would make them unsuitable to practise.
- The applicant must not have been found guilty of an offence or an offence related to the practice of occupational therapy.
- Where the applicant has been registered or licensed in Ontario in another profession or in another jurisdiction in occupational therapy, the applicant must not have been the subject of a finding of professional misconduct, incompetence, incapacity or a similar finding.
- Where the applicant is registered in Ontario in another profession or is registered or licensed in another jurisdiction in occupational therapy, the applicant must not be the subject of any current professional misconduct, incompetence, incapacity proceeding or a similar proceeding.
- Nothing in the applicant's previous conduct affords reasonable grounds for the belief that he or she lacks the knowledge, skill or judgment to practise safely and ethically.
The currency requirement for registration is stated in the College's General Regulation and is summarized as follows;
An applicant must have one of the following:
Work hours include direct service hours, planning and development hours, and administrative hours usually recognized in standard workload measurement systems.
- completed 600 hours of practice within the scope of the profession within three years preceding the application or;
- graduated from an approved Occupational Therapy program within 18 months prior to the date of the application or;
- completed a College approved reentry/refresher in the 18 months prior to the date of application; or
- current registration in another Canadian jurisdiction (applying under the Labour Mobility Support Agreement (LMSA))
Applicants must provide confirmation of current practice hours with a letter from an employer, outlining dates of work and hours worked per week.
If you do not meet the currency hours for registration (current practice experience) you will be required to successfully complete a Refresher Program prior to being eligible for a certificate of registration. A Refresher Program consists of completing volunteer, supervised clinical hours.
Upon receipt of your application form and supporting documentation, the College will notify you of the number of hours you will be required to complete. You will be required to secure a clinical setting to complete the volunteer hours under the supervision of a registered occupational therapist. An evaluation of your performance during the review period is required. A Practice Supervisor Agreement Form and Learning Contract will need to be completed by you and approved by the College before starting the volunteer practice hours. The Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT) may have resources to assist you in your pursuit of a Refresher Program.
Many facilities require group accident insurance, which is available through OSOT. You can contact OSOT for more information at www.osot.on.ca. While completing a Refresher Program you will not need to secure individual professional liability insurance as you will be covered for this under your supervising therapist.
Please see the following link for information on the Refresher Program:
Verification of your registration in other jurisdictions is a requirement of registration in Ontario. If you hold (or have held) a license or registration in another jurisdiction, please forward the form below to the appropriate regulatory authority and have them complete it and return it directly to the College. Please make copies of this form if necessary. The completed form(s) must be returned to the College before your registration can be granted. Please note that some regulatory authorities may charge a fee for this service.
Applicants must demonstrate adequate entry level knowledge of occupational therapy to practice in Ontario. If registering under the General Practicing Certificate, evidence of successful completion or the exam must be submitted with the application. (e.g. a photocopy the CAOT certificate or exam results).
If registering under the Provisional Practising Certificate the applicant must register with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) to sit the first available exam. It is the applicants' responsibility to ensure the appropriate steps are taken to meet CAOT's application deadlines.
All candidates who want to become registered as occupational therapists in Ontario must pass the National Certification Examination administered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). The examination is 4 hours long. It includes questions that test your knowledge of specific areas of Canadian occupational therapy practice and theory. The examination is offered twice a year, in July and November. Please contact the CAOT for more information regarding the registering for the exam and additional information regarding to the any costs that may be involved.
Occupational Therapy Examination & Practice Preparation (OTepp) Project
The College strongly encourages all internationally educated applicants to participate in the Occupational Therapy Examination and Practice Preparation (OTepp) Program. OTepp is a collaboration between the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University. It is currently funded by the Government of Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program and by the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. OTepp has developed curriculum and other supports to assist internationally educated occupational therapists (IEOTs) to prepare for the national certification exam and meet the requirements to transition into practice. The OTepp Certificate Program is recognized as a formal undergraduate certificate program of McMaster University. Deadline for the 2013 cohort is December 19, 2012.
For more information, please visit the OTepp website by clicking on the link below:
Orientation to the Canadian Health Care System, Culture and Context
This course is designed for internationally educated health professionals who are seeking registration in a regulated health profession in Canada. The course provides individuals with an understanding of the Canadian health care system, what Canadian patients expect from their health care providers, and how to communicate with patients and caregivers. Participants have an opportunity to interact with other internationally educated health care professionals in a supportive learning environment. For more information, please click on the link below:
Provisional Practising Certificate
While you are waiting to write the CAOT exam, the college may grant you a "provisional practicing certificate". This certificate will allow you to practise as an occupational therapist with the conditions that you practise under the supervision of a general practising OT, and that you write the first available exam from your date of registration. The general practicing OT will also be required to provide a signed Employer Acknowledgement Form containing his/her registration information.
Liability insurance with a sexual abuse therapy and counseling fund endorsement is mandatory for registration. The College has approved the programs offered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT) as meeting College requirements. The applicant is required to send a copy of their certificate which confirms the purchase of the insurance and includes the policy number and expiry date. Insurance may be purchased elsewhere, however, evidence of the policy content that demonstrates it meets the College's requirement must be sent to the College for review prior to acceptance.