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Pathways for international medical graduates 

Explore pathways to licensure in Canada for international medical graduates.
Credentials and servicesPathways to licensurePathways for international medical graduates 

Overview

The pathway to licensure in Canada for students, graduates from international medical schools listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools, or internationally trained physicians, will vary for each person. The level of experience and the province or territory they want to practise in are two important factors.

The requirements for each province or territory are defined by that jurisdiction’s medical regulatory authority (MRA). It is essential that candidates check the requirements outlined by the MRA of the jurisdiction where they want to practise.

This page outlines some of the common steps for international medical graduates (IMGs) planning to practise in Canada, but it is not an exhaustive resource. It is intended as a guide to better understand some of the actions that may be required to practise medicine in Canada and how the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) may be involved. It is essential that candidates check the requirements outlined by the MRA of the province or territory they are interested in practising in.

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Starting your pathway to licensure in Canada

IMGs may need to complete all or some of the following steps at the beginning of their pathway to licensure in Canada.

Complete a language test

All practising physicians in Canada need to be able to communicate clearly with their patients in English or French. For IMGs whose medical degree is from a country where the first language is neither English nor French, demonstrating language proficiency in one of the two official languages is part of the pathway to licensure set by MRAs.

Several language testing options are available, and the one(s) you choose may depend on your goals, skill level, or the timeline of your planned immigration. For example, candidates may elect to take a language test prior to taking the MCC exams to prepare for success.

Check with the MRA in the province or territory where you would like to practice and with Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada to review the accepted language test options and recency requirements.

Create a physiciansapply.ca account

A physiciansapply.ca account will give you access to important services, such as source verification of your medical credentials, and to the application for the MCC exams that you may need on your pathway to licensure.

Verify your medical credentials

Using the MCC source verification request service* through your physiciansapply.ca account, have your medical credentials source verified.

*Candidates interested in practising in Ontario should contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for source verification.

Pass the MCCQE Part I

Prepare for and challenge the MCC Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I, Canada’s national standardized exam assessing candidates at a level expected of a student about to graduate with a medical degree in Canada.

Pass the NAC Examination

Prepare for and challenge Canada’s national standardized exam that assesses international medical students’ and IMGs’ readiness to enter supervised training in Canada. For example, this exam is required for those looking to enter the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) for a postgraduate training program, as well as a screening tool for some provincial Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) programs.

Choosing the right pathway for you

IMGs have several options for acceptable postgraduate training for licensure in Canada. Depending on the pathway you choose, the MCC may play a role in further assessment as well as your application for medical registration with an MRA. Other options not listed below may also be available to you.

CaRMS match

Available for IMGs who have not completed postgraduate training or who have completed postgraduate training outside of Canada and are willing to retrain. In this pathway, IMGs will need to apply to, be matched with, and complete a Canadian residency program through CaRMS.

Practice-Ready Assessment programs

Available to IMGs who have already completed their residency and practised independently abroad. In this pathway, IMGs can apply to provincial Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) programs to complete a clinical workplace-based assessment over a period of 12 weeks.

International residency programs

Available to internationally trained physicians who graduated from accredited postgraduate training, meet the eligibility requirements, and may or may not have started practice. The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), and the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) set requirements and any applicable assessments for these pathways to licensure.

Licensing, certification, and registration

The requirements for medical registration are set by each MRA and are different between provincial and territorial jurisdictions. Most MRAs require some of the following steps to be granted full licensure to practise medicine in that province or territory.

Apply for your LMCC

Apply for and be granted the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC), an important component of the Canadian Standard, after completing your accepted postgraduate training.

Apply for medical registration with MRAs

In Canada, you need to apply for medical registration with the provincial and territorial MRA of the jurisdiction you would like to practise. Each MRA may have different requirements, so it is important to familiarize yourself with those applicable to you. You will be able to apply for medical registration through your physiciansapply.ca account to most MRAs.

Apply for a specialty certificate

You will need to apply for a specialty certificate with the RCPSC, the CFPC or the CMQ.