Career Map: Veterinarian
This document was updated in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in May 2015. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the College of Veterinarians of Ontario before completing your application.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, © 2015. This Info Sheet may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the Info Sheet by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this Info Sheet requires a written license from the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.
To practise veterinary medicine in Ontario you must obtain a licence from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO). The CVO sets all licensing requirements for veterinarians under the Veterinarians Act of 1989 and Ontario Regulation 1093. These requirements include a basic degree in veterinary medicine, and passing the national licensing examinations. The examinations require an application separate from the application to the CVO (see Licence Application Process, below).
Veterinarians in Ontario work in private practices (animal clinics/hospitals), laboratories, zoos, conservation areas and reserves, colleges and universities, government and industry. You cannot practise veterinary medicine in any setting or call yourself a veterinarian without a licence, but you can help a veterinarian as a veterinary assistant or technician. A veterinary assistant or technician must work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. For information on becoming a veterinary assistant or technician, contact the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) (see address at the end of the document).
Before You Immigrate to Canada
Before you come to Canada you should gather all of the official documents proving your qualifications, including your original degree and identification, your immigration paperwork, and letters from all licensing boards where you practised veterinary medicine. If any document is not in English or French, you must obtain certified translations as well to provide with your application materials. Make at least 1 copy of each of these documents and have these copies notarized, and then make copies of the notarized documents to keep for your own records.
You are encouraged to visit the website for the CVO after reading this Career Map, in order to understand the requirements for licensure in more detail and to obtain a licence application form or contact the CVO by email with questions. The CVO’s contact information is provided at the end of this document.
You are also encouraged to visit the website of the National Examining Board (NEB) of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) as soon as possible. The CVMA and NEB are not licensing bodies, but the NEB is responsible for administering the national veterinary medicine examinations in Canada. You must apply to the NEB to request registration for these examinations, and you may choose to begin this process before you leave for Canada (see Licence Application Process, below).
The NEB’s Information for Applicants booklet provides detailed information regarding the NEB exams, policies and procedures. The NEB address is at the end of this information.
Also, you are encouraged to visit the website of the Veterinary Skills, Training, and Enhancement Program (VSTEP), which is a support program that provides practical clinical experience to participants before they take the national examinations. The VSTEP address is included at the end of this information.
When You Arrive in Ontario
If you have not done so already, write to the National Examining Board and request the Information for Applicants booklet (see Before You Immigrate to Canada information). If you did not send your documents &nssp&nspto the National Examining Board before you arrived in Canada, send them when you arrive.
You also can apply to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario for your licence once you arrive in Ontario. The CVO has a toll-free number you can use when in Ontario and all contact information is on their website. The College staff will help you to understand the licensing process and the examination process as well.
Licence Application Process
The application process to get licensed in Ontario consists of two separate processes:
A. Application to the NEB to take the National Examinations, and
B. Application to the CVO for a licence to practise veterinary medicine in Ontario.
Process A: Application to Take the National Examinations
The national examination consists of up to three examinations that measures entry-level competence in the theory and practise of veterinary medicine in a North American context. They are:
- the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE)
- the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE®)
- the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE)
How many examinations you will be required to pass depends on whether or not the school where you earned your basic veterinary medicine degree has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA-COE). For a list of accredited schools, see the end of this document.
If you graduated from an "unaccredited" veterinary school, you will need to pass all three examinations, including two written computerized tests and one practical examination. If you need to do all three examinations, it will likely take you more than two years to complete Process A.
If you graduated from an “accredited” veterinary school, you will need to take the NAVLE and pass it on your first or second attempt; if you do not pass it in two attempts, you will have to take the CPE once you have passed the NAVLE as well.
Step 1 - Apply to the NEB to Request Registration for the Examinations
You must apply to the NEB and send all required documents to be eligible for taking the examinations. Note that
- If you do not send all of the items on the list below, your application will be incomplete and will not be accepted. Try to send all the information together. If this is not possible, attach a letter explaining that some of the information will be coming soon.
- The National Examining Board accepts copies of your documents, but they must be notarized. If these documents are not in English or French, it is necessary to provide certified translations.
List of Required Documents:
- A completed application form obtained from the NEB
- An original, notarized or certified copy of your veterinary degree
- A notarized or certified translation of your degree (if not in English)
- An original, notarized of certified copy of the academic transcript of courses taken for your veterinary degree
- Proof of proficiency in English or French (the NEB lists acceptable English and French language tests in its applicant booklet and the results of the test must have been issued within 2 years of the date of your application)
- Two letters of recommendation - one from a licensing body and one from a responsible citizen (preferably from an individual in the veterinary profession)
- Three recent passport size photographs (taken within 6 months)
- A notarized or certified photocopy of your birth certificate, passport or other government-issued piece of identification
- Results of previous NAVLE attempts must be transferred to the NEB/CVMA through the VIVA score reporting system of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB, 1-877-698-8482, www.aavsb.org)
- Results of previous BCSE and CPE attempts must be transferred to the NEB/CVMA by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- NEB application fee
The National Examining Board will evaluate your documents and, if your application is approved, they will inform you where and when you are to register for and take the national veterinary medicine examinations.
Step 2: Take the NEB Examinations
Each national examination is described below. The fees for each examination are posted on the NEB website, and the CVO website lists fees for both Process A and Process B on its website in the section for Applicants.
The Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE) is designed to assess basic and clinical veterinary sciences knowledge. The knowledge level expected to receive a passing score on the BCSE is that of an entry-level veterinarian (i.e., a new graduate of an accredited veterinary school). The knowledge being assessed on the exam is that which one would typically acquire during the first years of a veterinary degree program at an accredited school. The computer-based BCSE consists of 225 multiple-choice questions, many with graphics, which must be completed within a 220-minute test session. In addition, the four-hour testing appointment will include a brief tutorial to introduce you to computer-based testing and an exit evaluation at the end. The BCSE must be completed first, before being eligible to proceed to the NAVLE® or the CPE.
The BCSE is available on a continuous basis. The exam is administered at Prometric Inc.TM test Centres (PTC) throughout Canada and the USA, as well as several overseas. Please go online to www.prometric.com to view the list of test centres available to you for the BCSE.
The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE®) comprises 360 multiple choice questions, which are administered one at a time by computer. About 10 percent of the questions will include relevant graphic or pictorial information (photograph, radiograph, chart, etc.). This exam is designed to measure your general knowledge base in the various scientific and clinical disciplines required for competent practice of the profession in North America. The NAVLE® requires one full day to complete.
The NAVLE® is offered during a two-week testing window in April and a four-week testing window from mid-November to mid- December of each year. The NAVLE is administered at Prometric test centers (PTCs) in Canada, the United States and U.S. Territories, and at selected PTCs in 13 testing regions overseas, as listed on the NAVLE registration form. Locations of PTCs available for the NAVLE can be found at the Prometric website. Select "National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners" in one of the drop-down lists on the Prometric home page to search for test center locations for the NAVLE.
The Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) is a practical examination of the candidate’s ability to manage actual medical, surgical and diagnostic problems in a clinical or hospital setting. It is held in English at testing centre sites authorized by the CVMA or AVMA several times per year. The CPE is available in French only at the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire (St-Hyacinthe, Québec) usually two (2) times a year. The CPE is typically administered over a three to five day period and involves the examination/treatment of live animals and the performance of routine laboratory procedures. Candidates eligible to take the CPE will be informed by the NEB as to when they may register. The waiting period between passing the NAVLE and taking the the CPE is approximately 18-24 months.
If you do not pass the NEB exams but you have a basic degree from a recognized school and educational qualifications beyond the basic degree in a speciality field of veterinary medicine (for example, certification of Diplomate status in a specialty from the Board of the American Veterinarian Medical Association), then you may request that the CVO Registration Committee review your application for a licence with restrictions on your scope of practice. See Process B, below, for more information applying for a licence.
Process B: Application for a Licence to Practice in Ontario
After you pass all of the NEB exams and receive your exam marks, you can apply to the CVO or, if you have already applied, complete your application for a licence. You will also need to submit all required documents, pass the Jurisprudence Examination, and pay all fees to become licensed.
Step 1: Apply to the College
To apply for a licence you will need to submit an application form and all required documents (see list below). There is an application fee to send with your application form. All information about this process and the Application for Licensure form are available on the CVO website, and will be sent to you on request. The information you sent to the National Examining Board is not forwarded to the CVO, so you do need to provide original or notarized copies of the same required documents to the College.
List of Required Documents
- Your original or a notarized copy of your veterinary degree and certified translation (if not in English or French)
- Proof of passing the National Board Examinations by presentation of Original or Certified True Copy of examination scores or a Certificate of Qualification issued by the NEB (which confirms you have passed all required examination components)
- The results of a language proficiency test acceptable to the College that has been taken within the past 2 years from the date of application to the College (the College lists acceptable English and French language tests on its website).
- Have letters of standing be sent directly to the CVO from all appropriate licensing bodies, if licensed as a veterinarian elsewhere (You should obtain this before leaving your country of origin if possible.)
- Proof of Canadian citizenship and/or eligibility to work/study in Canada.
- The application form and fees required.
Documents that must be presented in person or by mail: original degree. Documents that must be sent to the CVO by the issuing institution directly include: original letters of standing from other licensing bodies, university transcripts confirming graduation from a veterinary medicine program (if submitting instead of an original degree).
Step 2: Take the CVO Jurisprudence Examination
The exam requires applicants to demonstrate knowledge of and the ability to apply relevant Ontario legislation and regulations, as well as College standards and guidelines.
The College has created two documents to support applicants in successfully completing the exam. Applicants are encouraged to read and review these documents.
- The Jurisprudence Examination Workbook provides an overview of applicable legislation, regulations, College standards, guidelines and policies. The workbook provides links to reference materials.
- This Jurisprudence Examination Candidate Instruction Guide contains information about applying to sit the exam, test locations, format, blueprint, scoring and policies.
- The fee to write the exam is $175 + HST. The exam fee is applicable to every sitting.
- The duration of the exam is a maximum of 2 hours and 30 minutes. It is a multiple choice exam
- Candidates are responsible for scheduling the date and location of the exam after receiving notification from the College that they are eligible to take the exam. It is advised that candidates provide the testing facility with two weeks notice.
- Candidates may attempt the exam a maximum of two times before remediation is required.
Step 3: Pay your Licence Fee
Once you have met all requirements (or if the Registration Committee has made a decision that you may be issued a license with restrictions placed on it), staff will let you know so you can pay your licensure fee and obtain your licence. You are not licensed until this fee has been paid and to maintain your licence, an annual fee must be paid and and an annual renewal form submitted to the College by November 30th each year.
Labour Market Information
Historically, unemployment for veterinarians has been lower than the national average and the average income is higher than the national average. However, over the last few years the supply of licensed veterinarians in Ontario has exceeded the demand for their services, and the demand for veterinarians (as reflected in the number of "Associate Wanted" ads found in the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) Classified Advertisements) is currently at an all-time low. The OVMA is the professional association for veterinarians in Ontario, which veterinarians join voluntarily and which provides useful information and support to licensed veterinarians.
Currently there are about 4,400 veterinarians licensed to practise veterinary medicine in Ontario. About 200 veterinarians are added to this number each year. For more information on labour market conditions for veterinarians in Ontario see Ontario Job Futures on the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) website. If you are already in Ontario, this information is also available at public libraries or at Employment Resource Centres in your community.
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) does not provide information on employment as a veterinarian in Ontario. If you are looking for a job as a veterinary assistant or technician, you can:
- Review the online classified advertisements section of the Canadian Veterinary Journal, a publication of the CVMA (see web address at the end of this document).
- Ask the CVMA for a list of veterinarians who are willing to act as mentors for newcomers to Ontario.
Examination Preparation Assistance
A detailed list of books available for study purposes and other resources are provided in the National Examining Board Information for Applicants booklet. You can purchase these books from publishers or gain access to these materials by contacting the main library at the University of Guelph or by contacting the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph (see addresses at the end of this document).
The NEB’s partner offering the NAVLE in the USA is the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME) and they provide sample examination questions. See information at the end of this document for contact information.
The Veterinary Skills Training & Enhancement Program (VSTEP) is a joint venture of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and the Ontario Veterinary College of the University of Guelph (OVC). It helps participants to prepare for the NAVLE and the CPE components of the national board examination. The VSTEP address is included at the end of this information.
After passing the BCSE and NAVLE, internationally trained veterinarians or ITVs may apply and be considered for a Restricted Licence under the supervision of a CVO licensed member with a general licence to acquire additional clinical experience before attempting the National Examination Board’s Clinical Proficiency Exam or CPE. Please see the Registration Committee’s Policies for details on requirements (available on the CVO website).
For More Information
Examinations Boards, Licensing College and Associations
National Examination Board (NEB) of the CVMA
The Registrar, National Examining Board
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
339 Booth Street
Ottawa, ON K1R 7K1
Toll free in Canada: 1-800-567-2862
Sample copies of the NAVLE from the NBVME
National Board Examination Committee
P.O. Box 1356
Bismarck, North Dakota
Telephone: (701) 224-0332
Fax: (701) 224-0435
Website practice exam: www.nbvme.org/navle-general-information/practice-versions/
Provincial Licensing Body in Ontario
College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO)
2106 Gordon Street
Guelph, ON N1L 1G6
Toll free telephone in Ontario: 1-800-424-2856
Toll free fax in Ontario: 1-888-662-9479
Provincial Voluntary Association for Veterinarians in Ontario
Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA)
420 Bronte Street South, Suite 205
University of Guelph
Milton, ON L9T 0H9
Toll free number in Ontario: 1-800-670-1702
Toll free number in Ontario: 1-877-482-5941
Voluntary Association for Veterinary Technicians in Ontario
Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians
100 Stone Road West, Suite 104
Guelph, ON N1G 5L3
Toll free number: 1-800-675-1859
Website practice exam: www.oavt.org
English Language Proficiency Test Services
International English Language Testing Services (IELTS)
IELTS Test Centre (in Ontario)
Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology
299 Doon Valley Drive
Kitchener, ON N2G 4M4
For a complete list of all of the IELTS Test Centres
Information on how to get help with settlement in Ontario
Information about accessing professions in Ontario
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
Telephone: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866-388-2262
Veterinary School in Ontario
Office of the Dean
Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Telephone: 519-824-4120 ext.54401
University of Guelph (Main Library)
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Telephone: 519-824-4120 ext. 53617
Veterinary Skills, Training & Enhancement Program (VSTEP)
100 Stone Road West – Suite 110
Guelph, ON N1G 5L3
Accredited Veterinary Schools outside of Canada and the USA
In addition to all veterinary schools in Canada and the USA, the following veterinary schools are accredited by the AVMA-COE:
- University of Utrecht in The Netherlands (graduates from 1973 onward)
- University of London (graduates from 1999 onward)
- University of Glasgow (from 1999) in Scotland
- University of Edinburgh (from 2001) in Scotland
- Massey University (from 2001) in New Zealand
- Murdoch University (from 2002) in Australia
- University of Sydney (from 2005) in Australia
- University of Melbourne (from 2006) in Australia
- University of Queensland (from 2012) in Australia
- University College Dublin (2007) in Ireland
- Ross University (from 2011) on St. Kitts
- Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (from 2011) in Mexico City
- St. George’s University in Grenada (from 2011) in Grenada
- VetAgro Sup, l'École Nationale des Services Vétérinaires à Lyon (from 2013) in France
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, © 2015.