Welcome to the CNO’s guide to registration for Canadian applicants wanting to apply for registration as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario.

This information is intended for:

  • individuals who have graduated from a Canadian nursing program that prepared them to practice as an RN or RPN outside of Ontario (e.g., diploma, or baccalaureate degree). This does not include bridging programs 
  • RNs and RPNs who are currently registered to practice in another Canadian province or territory at the time they apply to CNO. This means that if you are applying as an RN, you must be registered to practice as an RN in another Canadian jurisdiction. If you are applying as an RPN, you must be registered to practice as an RPN in the other Canadian jurisdiction

If you intend to apply to CNO and your registration as a nurse in another Canadian province or territory is no longer active (e.g., expired, cancelled, resigned), consider renewing or reinstating your registration as a practicing RN or RPN.  Proof of your current practicing registration in Canada will help you meet specific requirements more quickly without the need to request documents from third parties.

Please return to the How to Apply homepage if you are:

  • a recent graduate of an Ontario nursing program
  • an internationally educated RN or RPN who has never been registered to practice nursing in another Canadian province or territory or who is not currently registered to practice nursing in another Canadian province or territory (for example, nurses with expired, cancelled or resigned certificates of registration)
  • applying to CNO to practice as a Nurse Practitioner (NP).

This guide breaks down the registration process, emphasizing the requirements all nurses must meet and the steps required for registration with CNO.

If you are an NP, please review the registration guide for Nurse Practitioners for information.

We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information, but please contact CNO if you have any questions or discover an error.

“I was educated as a psychiatric nurse in another Canadian province. Now, I’d like to move to Ontario to practice nursing. Why doesn’t CNO recognize or regulate psychiatric nursing in Ontario”

Like many nursing regulators in Canada, CNO takes a generalist approach to the nursing education needed to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). This ensures all Ontario nurses have the knowledge, skill and judgment to provide safe care to people of all genders and ages, in various practice settings, communities and populations. Once registered, Ontario nurses can decide to pursue a specialty, such as mental health or addiction. This is one of the ways we meet our mandate to protect the public.

In Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan psychiatric nursing is regulated as a separate profession. However, in these provinces, a psychiatric nursing program is recognized only for practice as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, not as an RN or RPN

While CNO has no plans to regulate psychiatric nursing, if you are considering registering in Ontario, you have to complete a program that prepares you for practice as an RN or RPN. Here are a couple of options to consider:

  1. For baccalaureate nursing (RN) programs or practical nursing (PN) programs in Ontario, contact any school on our list of approved nursing programs. Ask them about their admission requirements and if they have a Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) process. PLAR may help you obtain advance standing for courses you have taken previously and/or your experience as a psychiatric nurse. Or, visit the website of one of the nursing regulatory bodies in another Canadian jurisdiction and select a nursing program from an approved or accredited school.
  2. There are some education programs designed specifically for Registered Psychiatric Nurses who want to become RNs or RPNs. For example, the University of Alberta has a bridging program for Psychiatric Nurses who wish to practice as RNs.
For more information about the requirements to register in Ontario, visit Become a Nurse.




To request an accessible version of any document on this page, please contact us.

Page last reviewed July 04, 2023