Criteria for Registration and Licensure (IENs)

Updated 2021


Dear Friend,

Wow! It is amazing what happens when you dig a little further into the information available online! In search for updates on NNAS I found out that the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia is very transparent in that they revealed the criteria for IENs to become registered and licensed in that province, based on their act as directed by their province. I am posting it now, as the opening of NNAS (August 2014) is bound to influence significant changes to the websites of the provincial colleges of nursing.


All licensure processes in all provinces have been legislated by each provincial government.

This is clearly evident in the document below.  The reason why each process is different is because the laws are determined provincially and not federally.

So, there are elements below that are specific to Nova Scotia but there are elements that would be consistent regardless where you live in Canada.

Use your critical thinking skills to determine which elements are for Nova Scotia alone, and which are for IENs in Canada in general.

Also, these regulations were current in 2014, but may have changed. The point, in 2021 is this:

The steps and stages reguired of Internationally Educated Nurses are based on regulation and law. The law is to maintain patient safety. Thus, keep this in mind as you prepare for the CELBAN. If you can not or do not obtain the level of excellent required it is because of the potential errors you may have in either creating or interpreting communications. It is because those miscommunications can put patient care and safety in jeapardy. 

The Colleges of Nursing can not allow that. 

The Provincial Colleges of Nursing MUST ensure that you can communicate clearly in moderately demanding to demanding situations to ensure patient care and safety.

Criteria for Registration and Licensure (IENs)

Applicants seeking entry to the Register and active-practising or transitional1 roster must meet the regulatory requirements set out in the Registered Nurses Act (2006) and Regulations (2009).To be registered and issued a licence to practise nursing, applicants must:

  1. submit an application
  2. pay the applicable fees
  3. have graduated from a nursing program that provided a minimum of theory and clinical instruction in both medical and surgical nursing*. Applicants whose program is not found to be equivalent to a nursing education program in Nova Scotia may have to undergo a competence assessment and/or bridging education
  4. have registered in the country where they qualified to become a registered nurse and in the last place that they practised
  5. have written the approved registration examinations, including the Canadian Registered Nurse Exam and jurisprudence exam
  6. have met all of the following criteria:
    1. not currently subject to any disciplinary finding that would prohibit the practice of nursing
    2. not currently under investigation by any registration or licensing authority
    3. has provided any information the Executive Director requires to establish that the applicant has the capacity, competence, capability and character to safely and ethically practise nursing
    4. has provided any information the Executive Director requires to establish that Section 43 of the Actdoes not apply to the applicant
    5. except as provided in Section 23, has completed the requirements of a continuing competence program
    6. meets 1 of the following:
      1. has graduated from a nursing education program or equivalent program required by clause 8(1)(a) or (b) or subclause 9(1)(b)(i), 9(2)(b)(i) or 9(3)(b)(i) in the 5 years immediately before their application for entry in the active-practising roster**
      2. has completed at least 1125 hours in the practice of nursing in the 5 years immediately before their application for entry in the active-practising roster
      3. has completed at least 450 hours in the practice of nursing in the year immediately before their application for entry in the active-practising roster
      4. as determined by the Executive Director, has successfully completed 1 of the following in the 5 years immediately before their application for entry in the active-practising roster:
        (A) a registered nurse re-entry program
        (B) a competence assessment
        (C) a program approved by the Council
      5. is enrolled in and attending a nursing program approved by the Executive Director, and has met all other criteria for entry in the active-practising roster at the time they enrolled in the program
  7. provide criminal record check(s).

1 Transitional Licence: a licence given to members who meet all of the criteria for entry in the active-practising roster with the exception that they graduated after December 31, 2007 and do not hold a baccalaureate nursing degree. These members are enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing program approved by the Council, and have agreed to complete the requirements of the baccalaureate nursing program no later than five years after the date a transitional licence is first issued to the member.

*Applicants who complete specialty programs without medical and surgical nursing are ineligible for registration and licensure.

** Applicants on the transitional roster are not required to meet this criteria.

If you want to register but do not want a licence to practice nursing, you must meet all criteria except the Continuing Competence Program.


Again, this information is dated 2014, but it gives you an idea of the medical system in Canada and why you are required to do what you are required to do to become a nurse in Canada. In many provinces the process is legislated by law. 

4 responses to “Criteria for Registration and Licensure (IENs)

  1. Pingback: CRNNS: Enhanced IEN Application Process | Dear Kim

  2. Pingback: CELBAN Preparation in the UK and internationally | Dear Kim

  3. I noticed that Nova Scotia as well as NNAS have both 5 year work limit. CNO has a 3 year work limit which it why I have not taken my tests including the CRNE which I am allowed to do.

    • Great Observation, Olof!
      Thanks for noting those differences, and for commenting. This is the kind of discussion I would like to see happen here, as people explore similarities and differences in the processes provincially and nationally.
      There is something I do not understand, however: how does the work limit impact you not taking the CRNE, though?
      P.S. (Where do you get the 5 years for NNAS from?)

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