English Language Proficiency

In order to be licensed in Nova Scotia, you must be proficient in the English language.

English language proficiency is generally determined by the English Language Proficiency Test that measures your English writing, speaking, listening and reading capabilities to ensure you are able to safely communicate with the client and other members of the health care team.

If you are a LPN applicant and your first language is not English you can demonstrate your English language proficiency by:

  1. Providing an English Language Proficiency Test score that meets our requirements
  2. Provide evidence that you completed a practical nursing program or equivalent in English that included: 
    1. at least 500 hours of theory
    2. at least 1000 hours of clinical experiences 
      1. medical, surgical, obstetrical nursing
      2. nursing of children
      3. psychiatric nursing
  3. Provide evidence that you have been practising as a nurse in English for the past 2 years.

English Language Proficiency Test

There are two different tests that you can take to demonstrate your English language proficiency. Test scores must be obtained in one test sitting and we do not accept results that combine scores from more than one test or more than one sitting of the same test.

Name of Test  Minimum Passing Score
Canadian English Language Benchmarks Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN) www.celbancentre.ca Writing: 7
Speaking: 8
Listening: 10
Reading: 8
Total: N/A
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (Academic Only) www.ieltscanada.ca Writing: 7
Speaking: 7
Listening: 7.5
Reading: 6.5
Total: 7

Expiry of the English Language Proficiency Test

Your English Language Proficiency Test results will expire two years from the date you complete the test. If your test results expire prior to you becoming registered with the NSCN, your file will be placed on hold until an updated test is received.

A Note to our Internationally Educated LPNs

Your English language proficiency is determined during the NNAS process and we as the regulatory body do not intervene in this initial process. This means that if NNAS determines that you are not proficient in English, you will be required to submit an English language test to NNAS. We cannot “waive” this NNAS English language proficiency test requirement.

If you are an RN applicant, you must submit an English Language Proficiency Test score unless you provide satisfactory evidence of the following. These exemptions do not apply to internationally educated nurses who do not hold a current RN licence in Canada. More information is below. 

  1. You meet one of the following criteria: 
    1. Completed a nursing program where the language of instruction, for both theory and clinical, was English. Online or distance education programs do not meet the definition of a nursing program for the purpose of this requirement. A written statement from the school of nursing may be required
    2. Provide an Employer Confirmation of English Language Proficiency directly from your employer(s) that you have: 
      1. worked as a nurse for a minimum of 24 months prior to submitting your application in a setting where services were provided in English and
      2. there were no concerns with their nursing practice when you communicated in English; or
    3. Met the English language proficiency requirement of another Canadian nursing regulatory body at the time of your registration and currently hold a licence to practice nursing in that jurisdiction; and
  2. There is nothing in the application that causes us to question your continued English language proficiency.

Internationally Educated Nurses: Meeting the English Language Proficiency Requirement

If you are an internationally educated RN, there are four ways in which you can demonstrate your English language proficiency:

  1. Provide an English Language Proficiency Test Score that meets our requirement
  2. Provide evidence that you completed an English language nursing program in a jurisdiction that appears on our English Language Proficiency Test Exemption List
  3. Submit information from your employer(s) that shows you have worked as a nurse in a country that appears on our English Language Proficiency Test Exemption List for the last 24 months
  4. Show that you have met the English language proficiency requirements of a Canadian nursing regulatory body licensed practical nurse or registered psychiatric nurse) and hold a licence to practice nursing with that regulatory body for the current licensure year.

Additional information about the English language policy that applies to internationally educated nurses not currently licensed in Canada can be found in the NSCN Registration & Licensure Guide for Internationally Educated Nurses.

Note: Your English language proficiency is determined during the NNAS process and we do not intervene in this initial process. This means that if NNAS determines that you are not proficient in English, you will be required to submit an English language test to NNAS. We cannot “waive” this NNAS English language proficiency test requirement. Once you apply to us, the above rules related to English language proficiency apply.

English Language Proficiency Test

There are two different tests that you can take to demonstrate your English language proficiency. Test scores must be obtained in one test sitting and we do not accept results that combine scores from more than one test or more than one sitting of the same test.

Name of Test  Minimum Passing Score
Canadian English Language Benchmarks Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN) www.celbancentre.ca Writing: 7
Speaking: 8
Listening: 10
Reading: 8
Total: N/A
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (Academic Only) www.ieltscanada.ca Writing: 7
Speaking: 7
Listening: 7.5
Reading: 6.5
Total: 7

We may be able to download your test results directly from IELTS if you provide us with your Test Report Form Number. If not, please arrange for the language testing centre to forward a copy of your test results to us at registration@nscn.ca.

Expiry of the English Language Proficiency Test

Your English Language Proficiency Test results will expire two years from the date you complete the test. If your test results expire prior to you becoming registered with us, your file will be placed on hold until an updated test is received. You will not be permitted to do the following if your file is placed on hold:

  1. receive a conditional licence or
  2. register/licence with us

You are responsible to monitor the expiry of your test results.

If you have any questions, reach out to us at registration@nscn.ca. We will respond within five business days. 

Please be advised that registration requirements and fees are subject to change. All registration and licensure fees are non-refundable. Click here to learn more about fees and payment options