Understanding Physiotherapy Licensing: How to Practice Physiotherapy in Canada

30 January 2024

In Canada, you must have a license to call yourself a physical therapist or a physiotherapist—often abbreviated to PT or PHT. A license to practice physiotherapy is issued by organizations (regulatory colleges or regulators) in each province or territory.

The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) assists internationally trained physiotherapists to get their Canadian licenses. They work on behalf of provinces who provide the license to practice (except Quebec, which has its own process).

Australia is world-renowned for its leading-edge physiotherapy research and practice. At Australian universities, physiotherapy is a strong academic and clinical discipline, and Australian research in physiotherapy drives teaching and learning. This provides Australia’s physiotherapy students with opportunities to be educated in contemporary, evidence-based clinical practice.

With such amazing programs, it’s no wonder that Australian graduate-entry physiotherapy degrees are highly sought after by Canadian university graduates with academic backgrounds in kinesiology, health sciences and human kinetics. And did you know that all the physiotherapy degrees OzTREKK represents are recognized by the CAPR?

physiotherapist with patient
Discover more about physiotherapy degrees

What’s the Process?

Let’s say you’ve studied a CAPR-recognized physiotherapy degree in Australia, and now you’d like to use your degree in Canada.

Now what?

After you’ve completed your Australian physiotherapy degree, you’ll have 3 stages to become a licensed physio in Canada:

  • Stage 1: Review of Your Credentials
  • Stage 2: Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE)
  • Stage 3: Apply for Provincial Licensure

Stage 1: Review of Your Credentials
First comes credentialling, which is the process of having your credentials reviewed by CAPR to confirm if they are mostly the same or different from a Canadian-educated physiotherapist. You provide the CAPR with documents to show your identity, education, and experience. You can begin this process before you return to Canada.

If your education and experience prove to be the same as a Canadian-educated physiotherapist, you’ll be able to move on to stage 2, the Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE).

Stage 2: Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE)
Next up is the PCE. The Written Component of the PCE tests the essential competencies of physiotherapy practice and determines your readiness to practice safe, effective, and independent physiotherapy. This exam is required for both Canadian and internationally trained physiotherapists.

The PCE is a computer-based, 200-question, multiple-choice exam available in both French and English. The PCE includes the following subjects:

  • Taking a client’s history
  • Conducting a physical examination
  • Data interpretation
  • Clinical problem solving
  • Treatment techniques
  • Ethics
  • Safety
  • Interviewing
  • Communication

The exam also covers the following areas of practice:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neurological
  • Cardiovascular-respiratory

Passing the PCE tells the CAPR that you meet the minimum standards to practice in Canada and that your patients will receive safe treatments.

Visit the CAPR’s website to see Written Component practice questions.

Would you like to watch the full webinar? Email rehabsci@oztrekk.com and we’ll set you up.

Stage #3: Applying for Provincial Licensure
After successfully completing the Written Component of the PCE, you must contact your provincial regulator to learn more about requirements to become fully licensed. This may include an assessment of your clinical skills.

  • Each province and territory has its own requirements (similar but varying), conditions and fees
  • Often looking for PCE completion, criminal record check, professional history, English proficiency, and professional insurance

You are encouraged to contact the regulators directly so you’re 100% clear about the accreditation process. You can contact the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators or your provincial authority with any detailed accreditation questions.

Former OzTREKK Student Explains How to Prepare for the PCE
Australian physiotherapy school graduate, Alexis, decided to take a study course offered by Canada’s Physical Therapy Development Institute. It was helpful given that what she learned in Australia will help you become an exceptional physiotherapist, but it won’t necessarily help you pass the CAPR exam.

The additional study course helped Alexis understand the ins and outs of CAPR’s judging criteria and from there she could use a combination of what she learned in the classroom and what she knew CAPR was looking for to succeed.

Hear more about this from Alexis herself in this clip:

How did it all end? She’s now a practicing physiotherapist in Ontario!

FAQs About Studying Physiotherapy

How do I know if I have enough qualified physio clinical hours?

The CAPR requires that the applicant show evidence of having completed 1,025 hours of supervised clinical education with at least 100 of these hours in musculoskeletal, 100 in neurological, and 40 in cardiorespiratory conditions.

If you graduate from one of the OzTREKK- featured Australian physio programs, it’s expected that you’ll fulfill your 1,025 clinical hours as they are worked into the program; however, we still encourage you to keep track of your hours because it’s ultimately your responsibility to record and report.

We always recommend you speak with your faculty advisor to inquire about clinical hours; they will have resources to help you.

How much does the credentialling process cost?
Visit the CAPR cost estimator for details about what to expect.

How long does it typically take after graduation to start practicing physiotherapy?
The process can take up to two years depending on the timing of the exams; however, in most provinces, you are permitted to work under supervision between the written and clinical portions of the PCE exam (the exception is BC). Get more information about the process on our Practicing physiotherapy in Canada page.

Australian Physiotherapy Degrees

Australian physiotherapy degrees are highly sought after by Canadian university graduates with academic backgrounds in kinesiology, health sciences and human kinetics. Canadians enjoy learning from Australian academics who are world leaders in the physiotherapy field. 

The Master of Physiotherapy (MPT), Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT), and Bachelor of physiotherapy programs that OzTREKK features are designed to produce qualified, highly skilled physiotherapists who will be eligible to write the exam to practice physiotherapy in Canada.

OzTREKK Physiotherapy Eligibility Pre-assessment

Are you thinking of applying to a physiotherapy program, but not sure where to start? We can help!

If you’re wondering if you’re eligible—and if you’re competitive—start by sending us your university transcripts. Together, we can cut right through to your best options. Send us a PDF of your unofficial transcripts (must be clear, legible, and have course titles) and we’ll be able process your application(s) much faster.


Learn more about Australian physiotherapy schools. Contact at rehabsci@oztrekk.com for more information, and to see if studying in Australia is right for you!