How to become a Registered Nurse in Canada

How to become a Registered Nurse in Canada

How to become a Registered Nurse in Canada
Neelam Sharma

Nursing is usually categorized into two groups in Canada - Registered Nurse (RN) and Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). There are six classes of registration for nurses - General, Extended, Special Assignment, Temporary, Emergency Assignment, and Non-Practicing. One can become an RN only if one qualifies for post-secondary education in Nursing and can fulfill other requirements. 

Since every province in Canada has a regulatory body for nursing practice, rules may vary for becoming a Registered Nurse in Canada depending upon the province. The regulations have powers to set requirements to enter the profession, assure the quality of practice, and establish standards of nursing practice. 

Also, nursing is a popular job sector in Canada; hence, those holding a nursing degree from India must apply for a license to practice in Canada. Thus, This article aims to illuminate how to become a registered nurse in Canada.

How to become a registered nurse in Canada from India?

If you are from India and are opting to apply for a Registered Nurse in Canada from outside Canada or without a BSc in Nursing from Canada, then you'll have to follow the given rules:

Internationally Educated Nurses

If you are a skilled nurse registered outside of Canada (e.g., in India), you must complete a bridging course meant for nursing registration. These programs will provide you with the clinical experience and knowledge necessary to meet the ‘evidence of practice requirements set by the regulatory bodies.

Upon completion of the bridging program, a verification of the course completion will be forwarded to the regulatory body as proof of practice and eligibility. This program may or may not be available on a part-time basis. Please check with your college to see which options they have.

Benefits of the bridging course

Any kind of bridging course is required for you to start with nursing practice in Canada. With it, you will receive a recognized certificate stating you can work as a practicing nurse. You will also earn experience in a typical Canadian hospital setting, ensuring you are employment-ready.

You will learn to participate effectively as a team member and support clients. It allows you to practice professionally within the legislative and ethical framework. Communicating effectively with clients and healthcare team members is essential. To develop and sustain therapeutic relationships with clients, you need to learn all these skills before you can start practicing.

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Additional Experience Beneficial

Those nurses with additional experience in the professional domain will be able to get their registrations faster than others. What stands out an experienced nurse is their education, safe practice, and expertise in the field.

Registered Nurse in Canada Requirements 

To practice nursing as a Registered Nurse or Registered Practical Nurse in Canada, internationally educated nurses must hold a General Certificate of Registration. To become eligible for Registration, international applicants will need to meet the following registration requirements -

  • Evidence of nursing education in Canada. Suppose the international student is equivalent to a four-year bachelor's degree in nursing or a practical nursing diploma in Canada.
  • Proof of authorization to work in Canada
  • Successfully qualifying for the NCLEX-RN for those applying for Registered Nurse is a registration examination.
  • Also, qualify for the RN Jurisprudence Exam.
  • Nursing practice is the category for which the international student applies within three years before issuing the Certificate of Registration.
  • Submit if any job offers were made previously and if they agreed to work or not with relevant reasons.
  • Proof of language proficiency in English (or French).
  • Applicants must also disclose if they suffer from health ailments while applying to become a Registered Nurse in Canada.

Nursing Regulatory Bodies in Canada Offering Registered Nurse License

Different nursing regulatory bodies in Canada offer Registered Nurse licenses to domestic and international students from outside Canada. The parent body heads these regulatory bodies called the National Nursing Assessment Service or NNAS. 

There are different provinces in Canada, and each province has a separate regulatory body that assesses the applications for becoming a Registered Nurse in Canada. The following table summarizes the nursing regulator bodies province-wise in Canada, through which international students can apply based on their preferred area of practice:

Canadian Provinces

Nursing Regulatory Bodies

British Columbia

British Columbia College of Nurses & Midwives (BCCNM)


College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA)


College of Registered Nurses of Saskatchewan (CRNS)


College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM)


College of Registered Nurses of Ontario (CNO)

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia College of Registered Nurses (NSCN)

New Brunswick

Nurses Association of New Brunswick (NANB)

Prince Edward Island

College of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island (CRNPEI)

Newfoundland & Labrador

College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland & Labrador (CRNNL)

*Note: The NNAS regulatory body is applicable to assess applications for Registered Nurses for the above-given locations only. This excludes Quebec, Yukon, Nunavut, and Canada's Northwest Territories. Internationally educated nurses or IENs will have to apply through NNAS only. 

How to apply for a Registered Nurse license in Canada?

IENs must only apply via the NNAS website to obtain a license to become an RN in Canada. Applicants can follow the given steps to apply for a Registered Nurse license in Canada:

  • Go to and click on the Apply/Login link.
  • Create a new account by providing the email address, answering three security questions, and creating a new password.
  • Submit identity proofs, which are notarised directly to NNAS. Acceptable proofs include - a passport/driver's license / any other government-issued photo ID.
  • With part A signed, the nursing education form is redirected to third parties for confirmation.
  • Apply and pay the requisite fee.
  • Finally, download the Nursing Registration Form, which includes Part B (“Nursing Examination and Registration Information”) and Part C (“Identification of Official”) from the online.

This nursing registration form must be sent to each nursing authority and Canadian authorities. They must be requested to complete the form and send it back via mail or courier directly to NNAS. The respective officials must complete Nursing Registration authorized to provide registration or license-related information.

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What is a Registered Nurse (RN) in Canada?

A Registered Nurse in Canada is a healthcare professional responsible for providing nursing care to patients in various healthcare settings. RNs are highly trained and licensed to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate patient care and advocate for their patients' health and well-being.

What are the educational requirements to become an RN in Canada?

To become an RN in Canada, you must complete a recognized nursing education program. The most common path is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree. Some provinces may accept a Diploma in Nursing, but a BScN is becoming the standard.

Do I need to be a Canadian citizen to become an RN in Canada?

No, Canadian citizenship is not a requirement to become an RN in Canada. However, you must be a permanent resident or have a valid work permit. Immigration requirements may vary by province.

How do I choose a nursing program in Canada?

Research universities and colleges in Canada that offer nursing programs. Look for programs accredited by the appropriate provincial nursing regulatory body. Consider factors like location, program length, and admission requirements.

What is the licensing process for RNs in Canada?

After completing your nursing program, you must apply for registration with the nursing regulatory body in the province where you wish to practice. This process typically involves providing transcripts, proof of identity, criminal record checks, and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or a similar licensing exam.

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