International Graduates

Optometrists and eye care professionals with training from outside of North America (i.e., not accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)) must complete an assessment from the Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada prior to registering in any jurisdiction except Quebec. For registration in Quebec, contact the Ordre des Optométristes du Québec.

Pre-Registration Process

Before applying for registration with the College of Optometrists of Ontario, internationally educated professionals who wish to practise optometry in Ontario must complete the following pre-registration process:

  1. Undergo a credential assessment (assessment of your education) by FORAC.
  2. Successfully challenge the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE) offered by Touchstone Institute
  3. Contact FORAC directly to begin the pre-registration process. The FORAC credentialing office is only staffed on a part-time basis and best reached by email. They can also be reached by phone at 647-746-2050 or mail:

FORAC Credentialing Service
Sheppard Centre Post Office
4841 Yonge Street – Unit 242
PO Box 43215
Toronto, Ontario M2N 5W0

Additional Registration Details 

Entry-to-Practice Exam

Once you have successfully completed the pre-registration process, you must challenge an entry-to-practice exam to register with the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

There are two entry-to-practice exams available to applicants wishing to register with the College:

  1. the Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC) exam; and
  2. the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO).

Although it is not indicated on the FORAC website, applicants looking to register with the College can challenge either the OEBC or NBEO exam.

Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE)

You must be referred by FORAC to challenge the IGOEE and cannot apply directly to the IGOEE. The College contracted with Touchstone Institute to develop the IGOEE, which was launched in 2015, to enable international students to bypass the International Optometric Bridging Program. In 2018, a separate Therapeutics Assessment was developed to complement the existing exam. Learn more about becoming eligible to challenge the IGOEE from FORAC and from Touchstone Institute.

Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program (ASOPP)

The Advanced Standing Optometry Preparatory Program (ASOPP) has replaced the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) at the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry & Vision Science.  ASOPP provides an education pathway for individuals who have completed optometry training outside of North America and who wish to obtain a license to practice in Canada. This newly redesigned bridging program is scheduled to begin in April 2022. Learn more about the ASOPP by visiting the University of Waterloo website

Ocular Health and Therapeutics

Beginning January 1, 2021, the credential assessment process is being updated to better reflect the current Canadian optometry curriculum and 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.

To learn more, access the information package for internationally educated applicants or graduates of a non-ACOE accredited optometry school.

Related FAQs

  • Applications for registration are open for a maximum of two years from the date they are received by the College. Most applicants are able to complete the application process and become registered with the College in less than one year.

  • Applications for registration are valid for a maximum of two years (24 months) from the date the application is received by the College. The two-year application period automatically ends when you have successfully completed the requirements for registration. The two-year timeline is provided only to give applicants adequate time to complete the registration requirements, not to allow successful applicants to delay the date they register. It is important to note that, regardless of the two-year application period, the Ontario Optometric Jurisprudence Examination must be successfully completed within 12 months of applying for registration.

  • A notarized copy of a document or photograph is one that has been reviewed by a Notary Public who has stamped the copy or photograph with his/her seal and then signed and dated it. A notarized copy is a legal copy of your original document.

  • Applicants who are registered to practise in another Canadian jurisdiction must submit a Certificate of Standing/letter of good standing. It may be submitted at any time during the application process, unless the applicant is applying under labour mobility provisions, in which case it must be submitted either with the application or shortly thereafter. However, it must be dated within six months of the applicant becoming registered. If you take more than six months to become registered after submitting a Certificate of Standing/letter of good standing, an updated Certificate of Standing/letter of good standing will be required to complete your application.

  • No. A Certificate of Standing/letter of good standing must be sent to the College directly from the issuing body (the regulator) and must be dated no more than six months before your Certificate of Registration is issued and activated

  • You may apply for your billing number after your Certificate of Registration is issued and activated.

  • If the Registration Committee implements a new policy that affects applicants for registration, an individual who has already submitted an application for registration will be informed of the change and would generally be permitted to complete their application under the policies that were in effect at the time their application was submitted, or under the new policies, whichever is least onerous. However, if there is a change to the Registration Regulation that affects applicants for registration, it will apply to all applicants regardless when they submitted their application form.

  • For applicants who graduated from optometry programs accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), the onus is on the applicant to ensure that the ACOE program is a fully accredited optometry program by contacting ACOE directly. Programs with a preliminary or conditional accreditation are not acceptable for registration with the College.

  • No. After completing the registration requirements, you will need to complete various administrative tasks such as filling out College forms and sourcing professional liability insurance, which is a requirement of our by-laws. A variety of insurance companies sell this insurance. The OAO also offers a professional liability insurance plan to its members. Accordingly, you need to build in enough time before you can start working as an optometrist in Ontario.

  • An applicant for registration is referred for a practice assessment or practice evaluation if it has been more than three years since they successfully completed the entry-to-practice examination. In some cases, an applicant may have to undergo both processes to ensure they are competent to practise optometry in Ontario in accordance with the standards of practice.

    The College receives many applications from optometrists working in jurisdictions outside of Canada. In the case of international applicants:
    • Applicants from jurisdictions with similar standards of practice as Ontario undergo a
    practice assessment.
    • Applicants from jurisdictions where standards of practice are not similar to those in Ontario undergo a practice evaluation.

    The Registration Committee is often unable to determine an applicant’s competence using the results of a practice assessment alone. Therefore, to avoid having an applicant incur the costs and additional time associated with two processes, it is recommended that the applicant undergo a practice evaluation at the onset.

    If the applicant is found to have deficiencies, the Registration Committee may make recommendations for the applicant to meet the standards of practice set in Ontario.