Skip to content

Notice: The Competencies for Occupational Therapists in Canada (2021) are now in effect.

Close Notice
COTO Logo
Contact  1-800-890-6570   info@coto.org
 

Provisional Registration

What is Provisional Registration?

Provisional registration is a class of registration that may be issued to applicants who are waiting to write the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination (NOTCE).

Provisional occupational therapists may practice the full scope of occupational therapy under the supervision of a general occupational therapist who has been approved by the College.  This condition is listed on the public register (Find an Occupational Therapist) profile of all provisional occupational therapists.  

To be eligible for provisional registration, applicants must meet all other registration requirements:

  • be registered for the next available sitting of the NOTCE,
  • have an offer of employment where they will be supervised by an occupational therapist who has held general registration for at least one year,
  • submit a completed Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement  (English | French),
  • successfully complete the examination within the specified timeframe.

National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE) Information and Requirements

The approved exam is the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination (NOTCE) administered by the Canadian Association of Occupation Therapists (CAOT).

Learn about the exam by visiting notce-enae.ca.

Provisional occupational therapists are required to sit the exam at the first available sitting. This is a condition of registration.


If you pass the exam


If you pass the exam, when the College receives the exam results from CAOT, we will automatically issue general registration and supervision will no longer be required. You will be informed of this change by email.

If you fail the exam


First Attempt

If you are unsuccessful at your first exam attempt, you may extend your provisional registration by 60 days after the next available exam sitting.

To do so, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Submit a new Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement  (English | French)
  • Submit any undertakings required by the Registrar
  • Provide proof you are registered for the next available exam sitting. 

If approved, your provisional registration will be extended up to 60 days after the next exam date.


Second Attempt

If you are unsuccessful at your second exam attempt, your provisional registration will expire the day the College receives the exam results.

Expired registration means you are no longer permitted to practice as a provisional occupational therapist.


What happens if I am not able to sit the next available exam?

Under exception circumstances (for example, a medical issue, death in the family, or other significant hardship), you may be granted a deferral.

Requests for deferral of the exam must be submitted in writing, prior to the exam, or within 10 days following the exam. Evidence to support the request for deferral must be provided (for example, a doctor's note). If a deferral is granted, provisional registration will be granted until 60 days following the next available exam sitting and all other requirements will apply.

If you require a deferral, please complete and submit the request form to registration@coto.org.


Employment Resources

The following websites may be helpful in your job search:


Remember: When applying for jobs it is illegal to call yourself an occupational therapist or an OT or use the OT title if you are not yet registered with the College. You can let potential employers know if you have an application in process with the College.

You are welcome to share this web page with potential employers and they can contact the College if they have further questions.


Supervision Information

Provisional occupational therapists may practice the full scope of occupational therapy under the supervision of an occupational therapist who has been approved by the College. All supervisors must hold general registration with the College and have a minimum of one year of practice experience in Ontario.

Potential supervisors may refer to the Policy to Approve Agents of the College to ensure eligibility to act as a supervisor.


Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement form

Download: English | French

The Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement form must be signed by the supervising occupational therapist, the employer, and the applicant for provisional registration and returned to the College for approval at least one week prior to the proposed employment start date.


Provisional Registration Supervision Plan template

Download: English | French

The Provisional Registration Supervision Plan template must be used to facilitate the supervision process. A copy of this plan should be maintained for the duration of the placement.


The supervisor will be expected to meet with the provisional occupational therapist on a regular basis to provide support and direction as needed.

For additional information about the accountabilities and expectations of the supervision process, please refer to the:

  • Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement form (English | French)
  • Provisional Registration Supervision Plan (English | French).

The provisional occupational therapist is accountable for their own practice. The supervisor is only accountable for management of the supervision process and should maintain relevant records, including the:

  • Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement (English | French),
  • Provisional Registration Plan (English | French), and
  • notes from weekly meetings.

Client documentation does not require the co-signature of the supervisor.


Any concerns about the provisional occupational therapist’s performance should be brought to the attention of the employer and the College immediately.


Application and Registration Requirements

Applicants for provisional registration must meet all registration requirements (except completion of the NOTCE).

To view the registration requirements that pertain to you, please select the appropriate category below:


If you are ready, apply for registration


Listen to our podcast on Provisional Registration where we answer commonly asked questions about provisional registration.





Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I attend job orientation or training before completing registration the College?
A: No. Applicants for provisional registration must receive written confirmation from the College and a registration number prior to starting employment and/or orientation and training.

Q: An employer is interested in hiring me but there is not an occupational therapist available to supervise. Can another health professional act as supervisor? What about an occupational therapist from another organization.
A: No, the supervisor must be an occupational therapist. Other health professionals are not permitted to act as a supervisor.

If you are working at an organization without an occupational therapist available to supervise, the College may approve an offsite supervisor. 
In these cases, it is important to have a detailed supervision plan with planned interactions and virtual meetings at least once a week. When providing offsite supervision, plans must be in place to manage issues related to practice (for example, consent, assessment, and treatment) and mitigate any risks. The OT supervisor and provisional OT are expected to establish a supervision and communication plan. The appropriate level, nature, and frequency of supervision is dependant upon the provisional OT’s knowledge, skills, and judgement, as ideally identified through observation of client interactions if appropriate. When offsite supervision is being required, the provisional applicant must submit the Provisional Registration Supervision Plan (English| French) for approval along with the Provisional Registration Supervision Agreement (English | French).

Q: Can I work for more than one employer or switch employers?
A: Yes, you can have more than one employer and you can switch employers. Remember, you may only practise occupational therapy under the supervision of an occupational therapist who has been approved by the College. This means:

  • You must submit a new Provisional Registration Supervisor Agreement for approval. The College will need to approve your new supervisor.
  • You must inform the College of any changes to your employment.
  • You must ensure that your employer is informed of the conditions on your certificate of registration and an adequate supervision plan has been developed.

Q: Can a new Canadian graduate be issued provisional registration prior to their grades being available if they are offered an OT job?
A: No. The College must receive an affidavit from your school confirming that you will be graduating. The affidavit acts as a placeholder until you convocate. After convocation, you must request an official final transcript be sent to the College.

Q: What title can a provisional registrant use?
A: Provisional and general registrants are permitted to use the title "occupational therapist", and the abbreviation "OT". Provisional and general registrants must use the designation OT Reg. (Ont .). For information about use of title, please see our Quick Reference to Use of Title, 2017.

Q: I already took the exam, but have not yet received my results, can I apply for provisional registration?
A: Yes. You are welcome to apply for provisional registration while you are waiting to receive your exam results.

Q: Do provisional occupational therapists need their notes co-signed?
A: No, co-signing of documentation is not required. Although provisional occupational therapists must have a supervisor, they are accountable for their own practice. The provisional occupational therapist should discuss documentation requirements with their supervisor to make sure policies and procedures are followed. The supervisor may or may not choose to co-sign some, or all, the notes depending on the practice area and their comfort level with the provisional occupational therapist's knowledge, skill, and judgement.