Graduates from institutions or programs accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) or by another accrediting body approved by a provincial regulator are not required to have their academic credentials assessed. These graduates may apply directly to the Optometry Examining Board of Canada – Bureau des examinateurs en optométrie du Canada (OEBC-BEOC) to challenge the national registration examination, the OEBC exam.
Applicants who are graduates of non-accredited optometry programs and institutions (including all institutions outside Canada and the United States) should refer to the “International Applicants” page of this website.
International graduates are internationally educated optometrists or eye care professionals . They are defined as individuals who have carried out the same work as optometrists in Canada even though their professional titles may be different.
FORAC welcomes all qualified internationally educated eye care professionals to Canada. The requirements and procedures described bellow are designed to protect both applicants and the public. We hope you find the information helpful and we are pleased to receive your comments and suggestions.
Credential Assessment is the first of several steps you must take before you may apply for registration to practice optometry in any province or territory in Canada (*except Quebec). Application to any one of the following steps does not guarantee acceptance. [Note: Further information on registration requirements for any specific province or territory may be obtained by contacting that jurisdiction’s licensing authority – click here – for contact information. Steps 1 to 8 are required by all jurisdictions. *Quebec offers a similar pathway for applicants who wish to apply in French and/or applicants who intend to apply for licensing to practice optometry in Quebec.]
Beginning January 1, 2021, the credential assessment process is being updated to better reflect the current Canadian Optometry curriculum and Canadian Optometry scope of practice. This may affect applicants who attend institutions that reside in jurisdictions in which Optometrists are not able to independently prescribe drugs without additional graduate education. If you are currently completing a program outside of Canada and the United States and plan on applying to FORAC in the future, please make sure to look into additional education/training in ocular health and therapeutics in your institution’s jurisdiction.
If you are considering practicing optometry in Canada, you should review the optometry course descriptions published by the University of Waterloo (follow this link). These descriptions constitute the criteria against which your optometry education and training will be assessed by Canadian Optometric Evaluation Committee (COEC). If after reviewing the course descriptions, you think that the combination of your degree(s) and other formal training in optometry is comparable to the education and training provided at the University of Waterloo, you should consider applying for credential assessment.
Applicants who are graduates of non-accredited optometry programs and institutions (including all institutions outside Canada and the United States) must meet the following academic criteria before they will be considered eligible to apply for the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE). If you have not completed one of the following educational paths, you will not be eligible to practice optometry in Canada.
You must have successfully completed either:
a) three complete academic years of full-time* undergraduate university studies in sciences and a 4-year optometry degree**
b) a 4-year optometry degree followed by three years of full-time work experience as a licensed Optometrist providing direct patient care.
You must have successfully completed either:
a) three complete academic years of full-time* undergraduate university studies and a 4-year optometry degree**
b) a 4-year optometry degree followed by three years of full-time work experience as a licensed Optometrist providing direct patient care.
*Full-time refers to 5 courses per four-month term or semester with two terms per year.
** The following is accepted as equivalent to a 4-year optometry degree: A three-year optometry degree followed by a pre-registration period of supervised practice endorsed by an appropriate authority in the source country and successful completion of the final assessment. Applicants must provide evidence of this endorsement; specifically, official correspondence from organizations assessing performance and evidence from sources of supervised practice confirming hours and areas of practice.
FORAC requires that your university education be evaluated by WES before you apply to FORAC for credential assessment.
FORAC requires that you purchase from WES an International Credential Advantage Package (ICAP) and a detailed course-by-course evaluation report for all of your postsecondary education credentials. The fee is $245 per person.
WES will authenticate your documents, confirm the level and subject of your education, and determine the recognition status of your educational institutions in the source country. WES will also confirm the language in which you obtained your degree(s). Purchasing the ICAP Package means that you do not have to provide FORAC with your transcripts, degrees, diplomas or certificates. FORAC will obtain them through WES. Please arrange to have a duplicate copy of the report sent directly to FORAC from WES.
WES can be reached at
If FORAC has reason to believe that academic documents are forged, fraudulent, altered, irregular, or involved cheating, it will investigate. Applicants will be contacted to verify their information and if they cannot provide a satisfactory explanation, their record will be closed. All documents received become the property of FORAC and FORAC will notify in writing, the applicant or their representative and the credential assessment services with which FORAC works.
The presence of fraudulent or altered documents will lead to refusal to issue credential assessment results. Further assessment will not be carried out if it is determined that documents have been falsified in any way. Applicants may request a review and appeal of an assessment panel’s decision to close their record.
If your optometry degree program was conducted in English you are not required to undertake a language proficiency test.
WES will confirm the language of instruction for your degree and advise FORAC.
If your optometry degree program was not conducted in English, you must successfully complete an English proficiency test.
Your application for credential assessment will not be considered active until all of the following items 1 through 8 have been submitted to the FORAC Credentialing Office. FORAC will send you a letter by email confirming receipt of all your documents within 7 days of their receipt.
A fully completed application form must be included at the time of your application. The form can be obtained from the above link or by emailing a request to the FORAC Credentialing Office. Once you have completed the Application Form, please scan and e-mail to email@example.com.
NOTE: FORAC staff do not meet with applicants in-person. If you have a question about the application process, contact the Credentialing Office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can request to speak with someone directly over the phone through e-mail
In order to preserve your privacy, only authorized personnel may access information from applicant records. This includes members of COEC, FORAC staff involved in credential assessments, and any other person authorized in writing by applicants. FORAC-approved consultants may access applicant records for the purpose of FORAC research and evaluation on the condition that a confidentiality agreement is signed.
Completion of Form 2 also authorizes FORAC to provide documents to provincial optometric regulatory bodies and the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP).
FORAC will refuse to provide any person including applicants with any information that in FORAC’s opinion jeopardizes the safety of any person.
As described earlier, when the World Education Services (WES) completes its evaluation of your credentials it will provide you with a report. FORAC requires that a duplicate copy of that report be sent directly from WES to FORAC.
FORAC must receive official copies of descriptions for all optometry-related courses taken. Please note that course descriptions should include all undergraduate and graduate courses that you believe are relevant to optometry. This may mean that you must arrange for them to be sent from more than one university. They should also include hours of study (lecture, practical and clinical). FORAC will only accept official descriptions sent directly from applicants’ universities either by a verifiable university e-mail account, or by post in a sealed envelope. In some cases, FORAC may already have course descriptions on file for your years of study. The administrative assistant will let you know if this is the case.
E-mail course descriptions to email@example.com, or mailed to:
FORAC Credentialing Service
Sheppard Centre Post Office
4841 Yonge Street, Unit #242
PO Box 43215
Toronto, ON M5N 5W0
In accordance with FORAC policy, an applicant’s undergraduate courses in sciences (natural or social sciences) that have been assessed by WES, and are optometry-related, will be assessed as part of COEC’s Education Analysis upon request by applicants. These undergraduate courses must represent a minimum of 3 full-time academic years of undergraduate studies in sciences for you to qualify for professional practice anywhere in Canada (except Quebec).
In its analysis, COEC will also take into account additional optometry education and training acquired outside your initial optometry degree programs. This could include graduate degree courses, post-graduate certificates and diplomas, residency training, and possibly other courses from other optometry professional development programs offered in source countries. It may also include optometry courses that do not directly correspond to University of Waterloo optometry courses (e.g. immunology taken in another program).
In addition, if you have taken additional education and training including professional development courses in optometry, please include with your application as much information as possible on their relevance, structure, depth, breadth, credibility, authenticity, and method of evaluation.
NOTE: Supervised Practice
The country in which your degree was obtained must endorse any pre-registration period of supervised practice that you might have undertaken. You must provide evidence of this endorsement; specifically, official correspondence from organizations assessing performance and evidence from sources of supervised practice confirming hours and areas of practice.
Click on the following links to download each individual form:
FORAC is a not-for-profit organization. It makes every effort to keep costs and fees to a minimum but to be sustainable, it must recover the costs of services it provides to applicants. Applicants are responsible for providing FORAC with full payment of credential assessment fees in advance of their application being activated.
You will be required to send your assessment fee payment to the FORAC Credentialing Office using a Credential Assessment Fee Payment Form (Form 23) . Fees may be paid by certified cheque made payable to the Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada. Only payment in Canadian currency will be accepted. These fees are non-refundable.
The fee for a COEC academic credential assessment is $2250 + 13% HST = $2542.50 Canadian Funds.
NOTE: Other FORAC Fees
If at any time you request copies of documents in your FORAC record, you will be asked to complete a Release of Information Authorization Form (Form 2) and a Document Access Fee Payment Form (Form 24). FORAC staff will advise you in writing of the costs of fulfilling your request and the amount charged will be determined by the number and size of documents and costs of administration according to the following schedule:
All documents submitted for academic credential assessment must be in English or translated into English. Applicants wishing to have their credentials assessed in French will be referred to the Ordre des optométristes du Québec (www.ooq.org/)
Translations of all languages must be authentic, true, and dependable to ensure that all relevant information is considered during the assessment process.
An original statement from the translator must accompany all translations and affirm that:
Arranging translations and providing them to FORAC is the responsibility of applicants. The cost of translations into English is also the responsibility of applicants. If FORAC receives documents directly from organizations in source countries, it will forward copies of these documents to applicants to arrange appropriate translations.
Your credentials are assessed by the Canadian Optometric Evaluation Committee (COEC), a committee of FORAC, made up of Canadian optometrists and optometric educators. COEC examines the academic credentials of internationally educated eye care professionals to assess applicants eligibility for the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE) administered by the Touchstone Institute. Following credential assessment, COEC makes a recommendation to the optometry regulatory body in the province identified by applicants as their expected Canadian destination.
COEC credential assessments result in recommendations to provincial regulators on whether applicants should be considered eligible to apply for IGOEE. Notification to unsuccessful applicants will explain where evidence is lacking, and provide applicants with information on where they might be able to obtain further relevant education that could be favourably considered by FORAC upon re-application.
FORAC makes every effort to advise applicants of the results of their assessment within 7 days of assessment completion.
FORAC recognizes that in order to treat applicants equitably, there may be circumstances in which individual applications require special consideration. Two examples illustrate but do not limit this policy: first, credential assessment procedures may be modified to accommodate applicants with disabilities. Secondly, if applicants are unable to obtain required documents due to situations of war or other crises in source countries, alternative procedures will considered in consultation with applicants. Decisions are subject to review and appeal.
To request consideration of special circumstances, you must apply in writing and provide sufficient evidence to justify your request. FORAC will contact you to discuss your situation and you will be notified of FORAC’s decision in writing with reasons.
If you are dissatisfied with an assessment recommendation by COEC, you may request a review by the original assessment panel within 30 days of your receipt of the credential assessment decision by the provincial regulator. A review will be held within 45 days of FORAC’s receipt of your request and you will be notified of the results within 30 days of the review.
If you are dissatisfied with the results of the review, you may request an appeal by a COEC Appeal Panel within 30 days of your receipt of notification of the results of the review. COEC Appeal Panels are comprised of three members of COEC who did not participate in the assessment or review of an applicant’s academic credentials. Requests for an appeal must be made in writing within 30 days of your receipt of a review results notification. An appeal will be held within 45 days of FORAC’s receipt of your request and you will be notified of the results within 30 days of the appeal.
Applicants may request reviews and appeals on procedural and substantive grounds, that is, relating to assessment panel procedures and the merits of its decisions.
In the case of credential assessment reviews, the following steps will be followed:
In the case of credential assessment appeals, the following steps will be followed:
The Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination is administered by the Touchstone Institute touchstoneinstitute.ca.
Applicants who score exceptionally well on the IGOEE will be able to directly challenge the OEBC (the Canadian board exam, see Step 7).
Applicants who have had their credentials successfully assessed must complete the appropriate referral form, and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a referral number.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 IGOEE has been postponed. New dates will be posted once they are available.
As of May 29, 2020, an applicant can challenge the IGOEE three times within five years. This also applies retroactively to applicants who have challenged the IGOEE at least once, and their three year validity extends to May 29, 2020.
The IOBP is being discontinued in 2021, as the Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science transitions to an Advanced Standing program. For more information, please see the announcement on their website here.
International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) is designed to provide optometrists educated outside Canada and the United States with a structured orientation to Canadian standards of optometric practice. The program provides qualified applicants with opportunities to gain the critical language, academic and clinical skills necessary for registration in Canada.
Application to the IOBP requires applicants to have successfully challenged the IGOEE. Application to the program does not guarantee acceptance, as there are a limited number of seats available.
The Bridging program is currently run once a year. The program receives funding from the Government of Canada and Ontario. Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status, or convention refugee status must be established prior to participating in either bridging program. (Please refer to the Citizenship and Immigration website for more information.)
The IOBP program is designed to prepare applicants to move forward to the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry (OEBC exam); the examinations necessary for registration to practice optometry in Canada.
The Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC) assesses the competence of optometrists seeking authorization to practice in Canada using the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry exam (OEBC exam). Understanding that practice competencies are different than academic achievements, the OEBC exam is designed to test the activities required for safe and effective optometric practice in Canada. Optometrists from across Canada contribute to the articulation of the essential activities and tasks that comprise competence.
Once you have successfully completed Steps 1-7, you will need to contact the provincial regulatory authority in the province to which you are applying to register as an Optometrist. They will let you know what documentation is required from the previous steps (this may differ slightly from province to province).