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  • Shanie Tiempo

Nursing In Canada: Everything An International Nurse Needs To Know Before Immigrating To Canada

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Canada is known worldwide for having one of the best Healthcare systems in the world. Apart from entirely free healthcare, they also have the best medical practitioners and up-to-date medical technology, which compliments well with the overall Canadian virtue. Because of this, many people around the world see Canada as a preferred location to immigrate. However, as always the case, providing excellent service takes time, and the Canadian medical workforce is in danger of being intimidated by the country’s growing population (especially that of older people). It is estimated that by next year, Canada will need around 60,000 more nurses to meet its increasing healthcare demands. If you are a registered nurse educated and trained outside Canada, now is the time to practice your field in this beautiful country. This article aims to inform you of everything you need to know to settle in Canada as a registered nurse.

There are three general steps for foreign nurses to immigrate and become a full-fledged nurse in Canada: Provincial Research, Qualification Assessment and Provincial Application, National Registered Nurse Licensure Examination

Provincial Research

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The regulatory body for each province that makes the final decision if you are eligible to work as a nurse in their territory are as follows:

  • Alberta – College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, or CARNA

  • British Columbia – British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals, or BCCNP

  • Manitoba – College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba, or CRNM

  • Ontario – College of Nurses of Ontario, or CNO

  • New Brunswick – Nurses Association of New Brunswick, NANB

  • Newfoundland and Labrador – College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, or CRNNL

  • Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia College of Nursing, or NSCN

  • Prince Edward Island – College of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island, or CRNPEI

  • Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, or SRNA

As mentioned above, each province has its own set of rules and regulations, and you must know about all the rules that govern the province you wish to practice as a nurse.

Qualification Assessment and Provincial Application

You need to follow sever

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Assuming that you have already determined the province you wish to go for, the next step you need to do is to create an account and get your credentials and documents evaluated through NNAS. National Nursing Assessment Service or NASS, is the organization designated to help Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) with their Canadian nursing registration. The process involves confirming the applicants’ identity, evaluating their nursing education, work experience and licences, and determining their language competency. The general documents you need to submit through NASS include, but are not limited to the following:

  • To confirm your identity, you will be asked one or more of these documents: passport, birth certificate, driver’s license.

  • To verify your nursing education, you will be required to submit one or more of these documents: verification forms, transcripts, course descriptions

  • Verification forms within the last five years from organizations where you have worked or volunteered.

  • Language proficiency test result

  • Verification forms from the jurisdictions where you registered as a nurse

After creating an account with NASS, you need to submit and pay for your main order application. They will communicate with you and provide their guidance throughout the whole process. It is important to note that your account is only suitable for one year, and you are required to submit your documents only during that time window. Your main order application will be closed if you fail to comply with all the requirements. However, you will be given one chance to reactivate your account without paying again if you do it within a year of the expiry date. If, for some reason, you fail to submit the necessary documents upon reactivation, your account will expire, and all the service orders in it will also be closed. You will need to pay again for another main order application to proceed with the process. There are also other services NNAS offers that you can avail to benefit your case.

  • Main Order Application – This is the main service you need to apply where you are allowed to select one province for your application; 650 US dollars.

  • Reactivation of an expired main order application – You can reactivate an expired main order application once within a year of the expiry date; 180 US dollars.

  • Advisory Report For One More Province – Use this service if you want to get evaluated for another province; 55 US Dollar

  • Be Evaluated for One More Nursing Category – Avail to this service should you wish to be evaluated to another Nursing Category, such as Registered Nurse (RN), Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN); 220 US Dollar.

  • Translating of Documents – The documents you forward to NASS that are not written in English or French need to be translated. NNAS can do this for you for 85 US Dollars per page.

  • Filling an Appeal – If you think that NNAS made a mistake in evaluating your application, you can file an appeal to argue your case. The cost for filing an appeal costs 500 US dollars; however, you will be refunded in full once your appeal proved to be successful.

Things You Need to Consider to Make Your NNAS Application Successful

Remember that you only have one year to submit your requirements upon creating an NNAS account. While this may appear like a long time, several applicants fail to comply within this period. Here are some tips to make your NASS application smooth-sailing:

  • Have your language proficiency test results ready before creating an NNAS account. Make sure that these results are within the acceptable language proficiency test score range. Refer to the table below for the acceptable test scores for different language proficiency evaluations you can take.

  • Get your professional and academic credentials ready prior to creating an NNAS account.

  • Have your documents translated beforehand by a professional translator, if need be.

  • Prepare the payment needed for your NNAS application. Consider also that you need to pay tax along with the prices of the services above and that NASS only accepts credit cards as a form of payment.

  • Do not hesitate to contact NNAS for clarifications and questions. They are always happy to help.

  • With the exception Appeal Application, NNAS does not issue a refund. Only apply if you are confident you can submit the requirements within the time frame allowed.

After you fulfill all the requirements needed, NNAS will forward your application to the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). They are the designated organization assigned to check the authenticity of your documents and compare it to Canadian standards. Once they have verified and see no problem with your documents, NASS will then forward your application to the provincial body you are applying for.

To start your NNAS application, follow this link

Provincial Nursing Registration Assessment.

The provincial nursing regulatory body decides the circumstances of your nursing application. Depending on which province you applied for, you might need to wait for a year for them to determine your eligibility as applicants might be asked to do further assessments and courses. Ultimately, though, your application has three possible outcomes: qualified to apply for an RN permit, needs to do a second assessment, denied registration for the province.

As mentioned above, each province has their own standards and specification when it comes to IENs registration. We have highlighted some of these below.

  • Most provincial regulatory bodies for nursing require the applicant to have at least 1,125 work hours from the past five years of nursing practice. Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan ask that applicants need to have worked at least 450 hours in the most recent year. Alternatively, suppose you have studied and graduated from an approved nursing education program or have completed an approved nursing re-entry program. In that case, you can submit evidence that you have done so instead of completing the required working hours.

  • If you applied in Alberta, CARNA (College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta) might ask for a second assessment which might prolong your application until you pass a bridging course or complete the Alberta Registered Nurse Assessment program.

  • For British Columbia applicants, if the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP) deemed that you need SEC assessment to pursue your application further, they will refer you to the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS).

  • If you have taken the Nursing Licensure Exam in the Philippines last 2006 and applied to be a nurse in Manitoba, the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba or CRNM may require proof that you have participated and passed the special voluntary examination.

  • For applicants in Ontario, the College of Nurses of Ontario or CNO ask that you provide evidence that you have completed an acceptable nursing program and/or verification that you worked as a nursing professional within the past three years.

  • For applicants in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan, the nursing regulatory bodies of these provinces may ask applicants from certain countries to submit SEC assessments.

Once the provincial regulatory body you applied for approves your application, you are then asked to take the licensure examination for nursing in Canada.

National Registered Nurse Licensure Examination

In order for nursing individuals who have the accredited degree/diploma from their respective country to become a licenced registered nurse in Canada, they must take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after granted permission by the regulatory body of the province they wish to practice their nursing career. With the right preparation and determination, applicants can clear this exam in one go.

Scheduling the Exam NCLEX-RN Exam

After being declared to take the NCLEX-RN exam by a provincial regulatory body, you will be given an Authorization to Test (ATT) through email, which will then be used to schedule an appointment to take your exam. On average, an ATT is valid for up to 90 days; however, you should not wait until your ATT is close to expiring in scheduling your exam, as test centers might not be able to accommodate you before the expiration date. You will have to pay 360 CAD to take the exam. If you are taking the test for the first time, you will be offered an appointment to schedule an appointment within 30 days of the request. Repeat takers will be offered an appointment within 45 days. You can decline these proposed schedules, of course, and choose a schedule of your choice; however, availability is not always granted. 

You can schedule your exam via the internet, telephone, or at an international test centre. For more information about scheduling NCLEX-RN, visit

It is important to note that the nursing regulatory body of the province you applied for may send you a provisional registration or temporary class to help you pass your NCLEX-RN examination.



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