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.

You must submit an English Language Proficiency Test score that meets our requirements (see below) unless you provide satisfactory evidence of both of the following:

  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. Provided an Employer Confirmation of English Language Proficiency directly from your employer(s) that shows you:
      1. Have 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 your nursing practice when you communicated in English
    3. Hold current licensure in Canada as a LPN, RN, or RPN, where you met their English language proficiency requirement
  2. There is nothing in the application that causes us to question your continued English language proficiency.

The above information does not apply to internationally educated nurses who do not hold a current LPN or RN licence in Canada. Please see the information below. 

You must submit an English Language Proficiency Test score that meets our requirements (see below) unless you provide satisfactory evidence of both of the following:

  1. You meet one of the following criteria: 
    1. Completed an English language nursing program in a jurisdiction that appears on our English Language Proficiency Test Exemption List
    2. Provided an Employer Confirmation of English Language Proficiency directly from your employer(s) that shows you:
      1. Have worked as a nurse for a minimum of 24 months prior to submitting your application in a country that appears on our English Language Proficiency Test Exemption List and
      2. there were no concerns with your nursing practice when you communicated in English  
    3. Hold current licensure in Canada as a LPN, RN, or RPN, where you met their English language proficiency requirement, and 
  2. There is nothing in the application that causes us to question your continued English language proficiency.

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.

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.myetc.ca/ieltsregistration Writing: 7
Speaking: 7
Listening: 7.5
Reading: 6.5
Total: 7

We may be able to download your test results directly from IELTS and CELBAN. Please email registration@nscn.ca for more information. If not, please arrange for the language testing centre to forward a copy of your test results to us at registration@nscn.ca.

The current English Language Proficiency Test Exemption List includes only English language programs taught in the following countries/territories:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. United States of America
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. Republic of Ireland
  6. Antigua and Barbuda
  7. The Bahamas
  8. Barbados
  9. Belize
  10. Canada 
  11. Dominica
  12. Grenada
  13. Guyana
  14. Jamaica
  15. St. Kitts and Nevis
  16. St Lucia
  17. St Vincent and the Grenadines
  18. Trinidad and Tobago
  19. British Antarctic Territory (BAT)
  20. British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)
  21. Falkland Islands
  22. Isle of Man
  23. Jersey
  24. Guernsey
  25. Gibraltar
  26. Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cypres
  27. US Virgin Islands

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 or we obtain proof that you meet one of the above criteria. 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