International Nurse Hub

Welcome to our International Nurse hub. This page is for international nurses not currently licensed in Canada who are seeking registration and licensure in Nova Scotia and contains information you need to know on the application processes, registration exams, conditional licensure and more.

Scroll down this page or click on the link below for information on each topic.

Nova Scotia’s International Community of Health Workers Engagement (NICHE) Survey

Before you begin the application process, on behalf of our provincial partners, you are invited to participate in a survey to help match you to comprehensive immigration, settlement, and employment supports in Nova Scotia that are tailored to your specific needs.

The survey is managed by Nova Scotia’s International Community of Health Workers Engagement (NICHE) program at Nova Scotia Health and is intended to collect information about the type of support you may need. 

Your information will remain confidential and used by provincial partners to inform a personalized support plan for you.

NSCN is providing you with this information on behalf of NICHE. Please contact the NICHE team at niche@nshealth.ca with any questions or if you require any assistance with the survey.

Click this link to start the survey: Nova Scotia's New Application Pathway for Nurses from Seven Countries.

Registration & Licensure Processes

There are two registration & licensure pathways available for international nurses:

Please note: The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) recently made changes to their policy regarding Verification of Registration (VOR). Please reach out directly to NMCN to see how this change may impact you.

This process is if you are an international nurse who is registered and holds a current licence that entitles you to practice as an RN in the Philippines, India, Nigeria, Australia, US, UK or New Zealand. Learn about the requirements, how to apply and more here.

Please note: The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) recently made changes to their policy regarding Verification of Registration (VOR). Please reach out directly to NMCN to see how this change may impact you.

This process is if you are an international nurse who does not hold a current licence to practice as an RN in Canada or in the seven designated countries in our expedited process. Learn about the requirements, how to apply and more here.

Please note: NSCN is not affiliated with any international nurse recruitment agency or people offering expedited licensing for an additional fee. Nova Scotia Health (NSH) is also not working with any international nurse recruitment agency or people offering expedited licensing or employment pathway into NSH for an additional fee. Please know that you are working directly with NSCN or NSH and there are no charges or fees to be paid to any external agencies or person.

Eligibility and Next Steps

Once your application has been approved by NSCN, you are eligible to apply for a conditional licence and to take the registration examination. Please read the following to consider options you have for your next steps.

To help you make a decision that is best for you, please consider the following:

  • Generally, you need a job offer from an employer in Nova Scotia or Canada to be eligible to immigrate to Canada.
  • As an international nurse, you can choose to get licensed as an RN or LPN in Nova Scotia. Click here to read more about the differences in scope of practice. Email registration@nscn.ca  if you have questions about which category of nurse is best for you.
  • Your conditional licence will authorize you to practice in Nova Scotia while you prepare to write the registration exam.
  • You do not need to activate your conditional licence to write the registration exam.
  • To qualify for a practicing licence, you must successfully pass the registration exam for the designation you are seeking:
    •  RN: NCLEX-RN
    •  LPN: Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE)

Based on the above, you have the following four options:

  1. Getting a conditional licence now and taking the registration exam now.
  2. Getting a conditional licence now. Take the registration exam at a later date.
  3. Taking the registration exam now. Get a conditional licence at a later date.
  4. Do nothing right now. Get a conditional licence and take the registration exam at a later date.

We have developed an infographic to help you decide your next steps while you are waiting for a job offer or an immigration pathway. The goal of the infographic is to outline some options to help you decide when you want to receive your conditional licence and take the registration exam.

For additional in-depth information on these different options and the process on how to proceed, please visit our Q&A resources for RNs here, and for LPNs here.

Currency of Practice 

You are required meet the Currency of Practice requirement to become licensed as a nurse in Nova Scotia. The currency of practice requirement is important because it means you have recent practice or recently completed nursing education and are connected to nursing practice. The currency of practice requirement is just one of several licensure requirements.

For LPNs/RNS, you must meet one or more of the following currency of practice options to be eligible for registration and/or licensure in Nova Scotia:

  • Current licensure in another Canadian jurisdiction in the same designation you are applying for (This option is only available when you apply for registration and an initial practising licence with NSCN.)
  • Current licensure as an RN in another jurisdiction as designated by the CEO, including the Philippines, Nigeria, India, US, UK, Australia or New Zealand. (This option is only available to RN applicants who are applying for registration and an initial practising licence with NSCN.)*
  • Practice no later than three licensing years prior to your application
  • Practice a minimum of 320 hours of practice no later than five licensing years prior to your application
  • Passed the registration exam no later than three licensing years prior to your application
  • Successfully completed a re-entry program, bridging education, or entry-level nursing program, no later than five licensing years prior to your application
  • Successfully completed a competence assessment and bridging education no later than five licensing years prior to your application

*LPN and RN applicants who do not meet any of the above currency options and have not practiced in the last 10 licensing years are not eligible for a conditional licence and must successfully pass the require registration exam to qualify for a practicing licence.

*LPN and RN applicants who do not meet any of the above currency options but have practised within the last 10 licensing years may be eligible for a conditional licence with conditions and restrictions.

*Effective January 2, 2024, RN applicants who have passed the NCLEX exam more than 3 years ago and have not worked as an RN in the last 10 licensing years will be required to complete a competence assessment and bridging education or a nursing re-entry program, unless they meet one of the other currency of practice options.

To learn more about currency of practice requirements, click here.

Registration Exam Information

To qualify for a practising licence, you must successfully pass the registration exam for the designation you are seeking:

As part of the process to become licensed as an LPN in Nova Scotia, you must successfully pass the CPNRE. The CPNRE is a computer-based test offered through secure Online Proctoring. It has been developed in collaboration with Yardstick Assessment Strategies Inc. You can take the CPNRE anywhere in the world if your internet service and computer equipment meet the minimum requirements for connecting to the online proctoring service.

You can write the CPNRE four times. You are not eligible to hold a conditional licence after the third failed attempt.

CPNRE results are generally released within four weeks of taking the exam.

Learn more about the CPNRE here.

As part of the process to become licensed as an RN in Nova Scotia, you must successfully pass the NCLEX-RN Exam. The NCLEX-RN Exam is a modern, state of the art entry-to-practice exam that uses computer adaptive testing to tailor questions to the exam taker as a way to measure entry-level nursing competencies. You can take the NCLEX-RN exam at any Pearson Vue Testing location offering the exam.

There is no limit to the number of times you can write the NCLEX-RN exam. You are not eligible to hold a conditional licence after the third failed attempt.

NCLEX-RN results are generally released within two weeks of taking the exam.

Learn more about the NCLEX-RN exam here.

  • If you have already passed a registration exam, you will be required to provide proof of exam results.
  • You do not need to activate your conditional licence to write the registration exam.
  • Your eligibility for the registration exam never expires.

More information on Registration Exams can be found here.

Conditional Licensure Information

Once your application has been approved for next steps, you are eligible to apply for a conditional licence. A conditional licence authorizes you to practice in Nova Scotia while you prepare to write the registration exam.

  • If you are living in Canada, a conditional licence expires 12 months from the date you were first made eligible by NSCN.
  • If you are not living in Canada, a conditional licence expires 12 months from the date you were first made eligible to work in Canada.

Conditional licences are valid for 4 months from the date it was issued and may be renewed within the 12-month eligibility period. You are not eligible for a conditional licence if you fail the registration exam three times. Two weeks before your conditional licence expires, email registration@nscn.ca to request a renewal of your conditional licence.

If your conditional licence expires or if you have failed the registration exam three times, you are required to stop practising and notify your employer immediately.

For additional information on conditional licensure, please visit our Eligibility & Next Steps Q&A for RNs here, and for LPNs here, as well as read our Conditional Licensure Q&A here.

Employment and Immigration

As the province’s nursing regulator, we are responsible for the registration and licensing of qualified nurses. Matters concerning employment and immigration are outside of our mandate.

If you haven’t already, we recommend that you participate in the NICHE survey to match you to comprehensive immigration, settlement, and employment supports in Nova Scotia. You can take the survey here.

  • A job offer is usually needed to start the immigration process.
  • Being eligible for a conditional licence may be enough for immigration to grant you a work permit when you get a job offer.
  • If this is the case, you do not have to activate your conditional licence until you arrive in Canada.
  •  We strongly encourage you check this with your local immigration and settlement office.

Learn more about Nova Scotia Immigration here.

The following employment resources may be helpful to you: