The Internationally Educated Application category is for anyone who completed their occupational therapy education outside of Canada and is not currently registered in Canada.

If you are currently registered in Canada, please review Registering from Another Jurisdiction.

If you are not currently registered and completed your occupational therapy education in Canada, please review Canadian Educated Applicants

Steps in the Registration Process

 The College has a visual map representing the steps an internationally educated occupational therapist applicant must take to complete registration in Nova Scotia. View the College process map.

1.   Establish academic eligibility

The College must confirm that your education is substantially equivalent to that of an occupational therapist educated in Canada.  Substantially equivalent means that your qualifications and competence must be equivalent, but not identical, in all essential respects, to those of Canadian-educated occupational therapists.

To determine your academic equivalency, you must complete the Substantial Equivalency Assessment System, also known as SEAS.  SEAS is administered by the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Associations (ACOTRO).  SEAS is a multi-part assessment consisting of:

It may take between 6-12 months to complete the SEAS process. Applicants requiring accommodations may submit a request in writing to ACOTRO; more information is available under the ACOTRO SEAS Policies.  All steps of the SEAS process may be completed outside of Canada.  

 Evidence Required:

2.   Application for registration

Complete an online application form.  The application form is a legal document. You must answer all sections completely and accurately.  Please read this page before completing an application form. 

Evidence Required:

3.   Compile required documentation

Applicants for registration must be able to demonstrate that they meet the following registration requirements.  Please note that any supporting documentation in any language other than English  must be sent with a certified translation.  The applicant is responsible for all costs associated with the translation of documents:

a.   Proof of Identity

The name you provide on your application form will be the name that is entered on the College register, and must be the same name by which your clients and colleagues will know you. Your registration card, tax receipt, and all correspondence from the College will all be issued in this name. If your name has changed, you must list all your previous names.  

Evidence Required:

b.   Eligibility to work in Canada

In order to be employed as an occupational therapist in Nova Scotia, you must have legal authorization to work in Canada.  Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, and individuals with Canadian work permits have the right to work in Canada.

Evidence Required:

c.   English and French language fluency

In Nova Scotia, health care is primarily delivered in English.  It is critical that you be able to communicate with clients and other health care providers in English. You must be able to demonstrate ability to read, write, listen to and speak English proficiently.  You must provide proof of your English or French language proficiency.

Evidence Required:

d.   Demonstration of professional liability insurance

Every occupational therapist licensed in Nova Scotia must have professional liability insurance coverage to a minimum of $5,000,000.00 with a legal expenses endorsement for investigation of complaints by a regulatory body prior to engaging in the practice of occupational therapy.

Professional liability insurance for OTs can be purchased through Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) if you are a member of CAOT.  See the CAOT website for more information.  You may also purchase Professional liability insurance directly through an insurer such as AON Healthcare Advantage.

Each insurance certificate is reviewed to ensure it meets registration regulation criteria and confirms that the applicant or registrant is the named insured on the policy. 

Evidence Required:

e.   Demonstration of good conduct and regulatory history

The College has an obligation to protect the public and needs to be satisfied that you do not pose a danger to clients. You are required to declare any of the following:

Evidence Required:

f.   Currency hours

It is important that you practice occupational therapy in order to maintain your skills, and keep up to date with recent change in practice. Applicants require 600 hours in the past 3 years. Field work while in university does not count towards currency hours. Where the applicant completed the Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS), the College will consider the applicant’s currency hours up to the date of application to SEAS and from completion of the SEAS process. If you have not met this requirement, please contact the Registrar for Re-Entry Registration options

Evidence Required:

g.   Payment of required fees

The annual registration fee is  $575.00  (starting April 1, 2024) and the application fee for internationally-educated applicants is $150. You must pay this in Canadian funds.  Occupational therapists currently registered in another Canadian jurisdiction may have their application fee waived.  Please contact the College to see if you are eligible. The registration fee is pro-rated should you wish to practice for 3 months or less in a given registration year (June 1  - May 31).  Payment may be made by cheque, EFT (, credit card or money order payable to COTNS in Canadian funds.

4.   Membership with the Nova Scotia Society of Occupational Therapists

The Occupational Therapists Act Section 27(2) requires that all registrants with the College pay the membership fees of the Nova Scotia Society of Occupational Therapists within one month of their initial registration and subsequently on the Societies renewal date; however, the College has determined that it does not have the legislative authority to enforce membership with the Society.  While the College recommends applicants and registrants maintain membership with the Society, the College will not deny or suspend registration for those applicants and registrants that choose not to pay the annual fee to the Society.  Please see this letter for further details.

Evidence Required:

5.   Successfully complete the National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination (NOTCE)

The National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination (NOTCE) is a mandatory requirement of registration with the College. The examination ensures that all individuals entering the profession of occupational therapy have met a minimum standard in the written application of academic knowledge and professional behavior. This exam is administered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). You must apply to CAOT to write the NOTCE.  Applicants requiring accommodations must submit a request in writing to CAOT; please see CAOT's Accommodation Policy for details. Accommodation Form A and Form B are also linked for your reference   CAOT offers the Trial Occupational Therapy Exam Manual (TOTEM) and the Trial Occupational Therapy Exam (TOTE) to assist exam candidates with preparation for the exam.

For Internationally-Educated applicants, each provincial regulator must confirm the applicants eligibility to write the NOTCE. 

Applicants are eligible to practice under supervision while waiting to successfully complete the NOTCE.  Applicants must provide evidence that they are scheduled to write the next sitting of the NOTCE. The College's exam policy outlines a maximum of three (3) attempts to successfully complete the NOTCE.  Please review the Guide to Supervised Practice for more information.

Evidence Required:

In preparation for your application to the College, you should contact the other organizations to find out which documents they need and their associated fees. By doing so, you can ask your sources to send original documents to each organization. Some organizations that may need your documents may include: the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (to write the CAOT exam), ACOTRO, and Immigration Canada.

College staff are available to assist with the application process.  Questions about documentation, qualifications, and technical problems can be asked by phone (902) 455-0556, or by email, We aim to respond to inquiries within 1-2 business days; however, delays up to 5 business days may occur due to workload, business travel, or vacation.  

Completed applications may require up to 5 business days to be processed.  Once a decision has been made on their application, applicants will receive written notification by email.


You cannot begin working as an Occupational Therapist in Nova Scotia (including worksite orientation and shadowing) until you have received notice from the College that your application has been approved.

 Helpful Links

Atlantic Connection

Nova Scotia Immigration

Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)

Nova Scotia Start

Fair Registration Practices Review Office

Labour Mobility

International Qualification Recognition (IQR)

Forum of Labour Market Ministers  

COTNS Application Form 

COTNS Application Documents