Names registrants must use while practising

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) has received a number of inquiries about registrants practising under a name that is different from the one they used to register with the College. The following information is intended to clarify what name a registrant must practise under, and how registrants can change or update their name(s) with the College.

Requirement to practise using the name you used to register with the College

As noted in the College’s Professional Misconduct Regulation, registrants are required to practise using the name they used to register with the College. Not only is this required by law, it is also an important part of the College’s public protection mandate, as it ensures that service users can access information about the registrant on the Online Register. It is an act of professional misconduct to practise using a name that is different than the name in the Online Register.

How to change or update your name with the College

If you change your name legally, you must advise the College. To do so, please send a request by email to info@ocswssw.org and include the following information:

  • your former name(s)
  • your new name(s)
  • a copy of an official government document that shows your new name(s) (e.g., a change of name certificate or marriage certificate)

You can also send name change requests and supporting documents to the College by fax or regular mail.

Both your former name(s) and new name(s) will be posted on the Online Register. If publication of your previous name(s) may jeopardize your safety, please include this information in your request.

How to add a nickname or shortform first name to your College profile

If you use a nickname or shortform first name when practising, you must advise the College. Send a request by email to info@ocswssw.org and include the nickname or shortform first name you wish to add.

Your legal first name will not be replaced, but your nickname or shortform first name will be added in parentheses to ensure that service users can find you on the Online Register. For example: Margaret (Maggie) Jones.

Reminder: Information on titles and designations

As noted in our March 30, 2022 eBulletin, the Registration Regulation made under the Social Work and Social Service Work Act sets out only two categories of registration: “social work” and “social service work.” Therefore, none of the following titles, abbreviations or variations can be used in Ontario:

  • Clinical social worker
  • Registered clinical social worker or RCSW
  • Licensed clinical social worker or LCSW

Registrants must not refer to themselves using any of the above titles with service users, employers, on LinkedIn, or in any other digital or print publication.

In Ontario, those registered with the College can use only the following protected titles and designations, their abbreviations and French language equivalents:

  • “social worker” (« travailleuse/travailleur social(e) »)
  • “registered social worker” (« travailleuse/travailleur social(e) inscrit(e) »)
  • “social service worker” (« technicienne/technicien en travail social »)
  • “registered social service worker” (« technicienne/technicien en travail social inscrit(e) »)

It is illegal for an individual to use any of these protected titles without being registered.

Helpful practice resources

College registrants are encouraged to consult the following webpages and practice resources for more information on title protection:

For all title protection inquiries, please contact titleprotection@ocswssw.org.