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Canadian Reference Requirement

The Canadian reference requirement for registration of internationally educated nurses has been removed.

posted March 26, 2013

After reviewing the impact of the substantially equivalent competency (SEC) assessment and consulting with a variety of stakeholders, the College removed one of its registration requirements for internationally educated nurses. A Canadian reference after 250 hours of practice as a provisionally registered nurse is no longer required.

The CRNBC Registration Committee made the decision on March 13, 2013.

The College has enhanced its assessment process for internationally educated nurses and now uses a competency based assessment (the SEC). The assessment helps the College determine whether or not an individual requires supplementary education before starting to practice as a nurse. Also, the Health Professions Act gives direction about reporting concerns about a nurse’s practice to CRNBC. Thus, a reference is not needed. 

Internationally educated nurses will be eligible for provisional registration as they wait to write the national nursing exam. However, they will not need a reference from their employer after 250 hours of practice. The Committee may still require a reference or performance appraisal in special circumstances. 


2005 – A Canadian reference after 250 hours of practice is required for registration.

2008 – College starts to use a competence based assessment for nurses who received their professional nursing education outside of Canada. Through the assessment, nurses can demonstrate their professional knowledge, skills and abilities.

2012-2013 – Evaluation of the value of the reference requirement.

2013 – Reference requirement removed. This change will be implemented over time, and all applicants affected will be informed by June 1, 2013. ​

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