Steps in the Registration Process

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 up to one year for you to complete the SEAS process. Applicants requiring accommodations may submit a request in writing to ACOTRO; see SEAS Frequently Asked Questions.  All steps except the Competency Assessment Interview may be completed outside of Canada.  

Please Note:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person competency assessment has been replaced with an on-line competency assessment.  Internationally educated occupational therapists registered in the SEAS program do not have to be in Canada to complete the on-line competency assessment.

View the College process map.

Evidence Required:

2.   Application for registration

Complete an online application form and submit supporting documentation (see below).  The application form is a legal document. You must answer all sections completely and accurately.  Please read this page before completing an application form.  Unless indicated below, all supporting documentation may be uploaded electronically.

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 or French 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 from 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, certificate, and tax receipt and all correspondence from the College will all be issued in this name.

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 language fluency

In Nova Scotia, health care is primarily delivered in English with some pockets of French.  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 language proficiency.

Evidence Required:

d.   Demonstration of professional liability insurance

Every occupational therapist practising 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 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.

Many of the hospitals and health care agencies that employ occupational therapists purchase insurance that covers their employees while they are working for that agency. This type of insurance does not cover any services the OT provides as a volunteer or outside this practice setting.  You must ensure that this coverage includes a legal expenses endorsement for investigation of complaints by a regulatory body prior to engaging in the practice of occupational therapy.

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 practise occupational therapy in order to maintain your skills, and keep up to date with recent change in practice. 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.

Evidence Required:

g.   Payment of annual registration fee

The annual registration fee is  $490.00  and the application fee for internationally-educated new applicants is $150. You must pay this in Canadian funds.  The fee is pro-rated should you wish to practice for 3 months or less in a given registration year (June - May).  Payment may be made by cheque, EFT (, credit card or money order, payable to the College.

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.  The NOTCE can only be completed within Canada.

There are resources to help you prepare to write the exam:

Applicants are eligible to practice under sponsorship, while waiting to successfully complete the NOTCE, for a maximum period of one year.  Applicants must provide evidence that they are scheduled to write the next sitting of the NOTCE.  Please review the document Provisional Practising Certificate of Registration and Guide to Supervised Practice for more information.

Evidence Required:

Before you register with the College, you should contact all the other organizations that will need your original documents. 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 of the organizations that may need your documents are: the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (to write the CAOT exam), ACOTRO, and Immigration Canada.

Completed Applications may require 10 business days to be processed.

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.  


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

Access Health Careers Canada

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