Why Register with the College?
When you become a registered member of the College, you join a community of social workers and social service workers across Ontario which is professional, ethical, qualified and accountable. Registration provides you with professional credibility and important member benefits, while protecting the public from unqualified, incompetent or unfit practitioners.
Registration is also the law. Only registered College members can use the title “social worker”/”registered social worker” or “social service worker”/”registered social service worker”. Registration is also required if you represent or hold yourself out as a social worker or social service worker.
Benefits of College Membership
As a College member, you are entitled to:
- Use the restricted titles of “social service worker”/“registered social service worker” or “social worker”/“registered social worker” (depending on your class of registration).
- Hold yourself out as a social worker or social service worker. This means representing yourself in such a way that a reasonable person would assume (from the information you provided) that you were a social worker or social service worker.
- A reduced membership fee for new graduates (see New Graduate Fee).
- Access information on the activities of the College through College publications including the Perspective newsletter, Practice Guidelines, Practice Notes, the website and eBulletins.
- Educational and networking opportunities in the Glenda McDonald Educational Series including the Annual Meeting and Education Day (AMED) and regional forums throughout Ontario.
- Consultation with and guidance from the Professional Practice Department for ethical and practice-related questions.
Summary of the Criteria for Registration
To register as a social worker or social service worker with the College, you must meet the following requirements:
- Pay a non-refundable $100 application fee.
- Pay the annual registration fee.
- Be able to speak and write either English or French with reasonable fluency.
- Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or authorized to practise social work or social service work under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada).
- Disclose any current proceeding in relation to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity and other similar proceeding (for example, a complaint or discipline proceeding) in any jurisdiction.
- Disclose any findings of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity in any jurisdiction.
- Disclose any findings of guilt in relation to criminal or other offences.
- In addition, based on your past and present conduct, the College must have reasonable grounds to believe that you:
a. do not have any physical or mental condition or disorder that could affect your ability to practise social work or social service work in a safe manner.
b. will practise social work or social service work with decency, integrity and honesty and in accordance with the law.
c. have sufficient knowledge, skill and judgment to practise social work or social service work.
- You must have engaged in the practice of social work or social service work within the five years immediately before the date of the application, or otherwise satisfy the Registrar that you are competent to perform the role of a social worker or social service worker. Note: This requirement does not apply to applicants who have obtained the academic qualifications required for registration with the College within the five years before the date of application.
- Specific details with respect to academic requirements and experience are also outlined depending on which application route you choose from the main menu.
The application asks for the following information:
If the Registrar issues a certificate of registration to you, certain information provided on the application including your name, business address(es), business telephone number(s) and name of your employer or business will, in accordance with the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 and the bylaws of the College, be contained in the register of the College. Information on the register is information that is available to the public.
Please note that if you provide your home address as your business address, your home address is information which will be available to the public. If disclosure of your business address(es), business telephone number(s) or name of your employer or business may jeopardize your safety, please advise the Registrar who will assess whether there is a basis for the information not to be made public. In addition, if you use a pseudonym in your practice of social work or social service work because it is necessary for your personal safety, please advise the Registrar. In both cases, provide written details.
- Undertake a language proficiency test(s) that is acceptable to the College.
- Achieve the result scores indicated below.
You are responsible for all costs associated with taking the language proficiency test(s) and it is your responsibility to arrange to have the test results forwarded in writing directly from the testing agency to the College.
The College will not accept test results from a language proficiency test that you completed more than two years prior to the date your application for registration is received by the College.
Written and Spoken Fluency (English)
Each of the following English language proficiency testing systems is acceptable to the College. An applicant must achieve the test result scores indicated below in order to demonstrate their ability to speak or write English with reasonable fluency. Please click on the corresponding website link below for more information:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
Scores: (TOEFL) paper-based score of no less than 600 OR (TOEFL) Internet-based Test (iBT) Overall: 92, Writing: 22, Speaking: 26, Listening: 22, Reading: 22.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
Scores: IELTS minimum score of no less than 7 in each component: reading, listening, writing, speaking.
- MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery)
Scores: MELAB minimum written score of no less than 85; minimum speaking score of no less than 4.
Note: The MELAB is no longer being offered.
Scores: CanTEST minimum score of no less than 5 in each section: reading, listening, writing, speaking.
Written and Spoken Fluency (French)
The following French language proficiency testing system is acceptable to the College:
Scores: TESTCan minimum score of no less than 5 in each section: reading, listening, writing, speaking.
If you require further information, please contact the College at 416-972-9882 or 1-877-828-9380 or by emailing Registration.
Translation of Documents
Documents that are not in English or French must be translated before they are submitted to the College and/or a credentials evaluation agency. You must provide your original documents plus a precise word-for-word translation in English or French. This must be a certified translation, accompanied by a cover letter from an accredited translator including:
- The exact name of the document(s) which has been translated.
- The method by which the accredited translator received the document(s).
- Any comments about the accuracy of your documents.
- The date of the translation.
- The accredited translator’s identification number and/or seal.
It is up to you to arrange and pay for translation, copying and mailing costs.
To find an accredited translator, contact:
- The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario, ATIO at 1-800-234-5030 or email email@example.com
- COSTI – IIAS Immigrant Services at 416-658-1600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Only Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada can practise social work or social service work in Ontario, unless authorized under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. If you don’t meet these requirements, you must provide the College with further information with your application form. The College may contact you for further information.
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
If you are authorized to practise social work or social service work under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, you must submit a copy of your valid work permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada with your application form.
After a review of your work permit, if the Registrar is satisfied that the other requirements for registration have been met, the Registrar may propose to issue a certificate of registration with terms, conditions and limitations (TCL). The TCL may impose, among other things, an expiry date and other conditions on the certificate similar to those set out in your work permit. In these circumstances, the Registrar may issue a certificate of registration with TCL, provided that you have consented to the TCL.
Consent to the Release of Information from the Register for Research Purposes
Please indicate whether or not you consent to the release of information pertaining to you for the purpose of research by checking the appropriate box. If you do not complete this section, the College will assume that you do not consent. Completion of this section enables the College to respond to requests for information contained in the Register from persons or organizations conducting research. In accordance with the policy approved by Council respecting such requests, with your consent, the only information contained in the Register that may be released includes some or all of the following: your name, category of membership, name of your business or employer, your business address and your business telephone number.
The application form asks you to list the academic qualifications you have obtained from a social work or social service work program or equivalent program.
It is your responsibility to contact the academic institution(s) from which you graduated and request that original transcripts be forwarded directly to the College by Canada Post. A photocopy, fax or electronic copy of the documentation will not be accepted. The College will not accept transcripts in sealed envelopes from applicants.
If your social work program has been submitted to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) for an evaluation, ensure that the CASW forwards the written evaluation directly to the College. An official transcript from your academic institution is not required.
Currency of Practice of Social Work or Social Service Work
Performing the Role and Competency Requirements
An applicant must have engaged in the practice of social work or social service work within the five years immediately before the date of the application, or otherwise satisfy the Registrar that he or she is competent to perform the role of a social worker or social service worker. This requirement does not apply to applicants who have obtained the qualifications required for registration with the College within the five years before the date of application.
If you have not practised social work or social service work within the five years before your application date, you must complete the appropriate supplemental form to provide additional information for the Registrar’s consideration. If the Registrar is satisfied that the other registration requirements have been met, the Registrar may propose to issue a certificate of registration with terms, conditions and limitations (TCL). The TCL may impose, among other things, a period of supervised practice. In these circumstances, the Registrar may issue a certificate of registration with TCL, provided that you have consented to the TCL.
For more information about the 5 year requirement, please email Registration.
Membership in Any Other Regulatory Body
Professional Conduct and Health
If you answered “Yes” to the question on the application form relating to physical or mental condition or disorder that could affect your ability to practise social work or social service work in a safe manner, you must attach an explanation regarding the ways in which your physical or mental condition or disorder could affect your ability to practise in a safe manner. FAQs with further information about this requirement are now available on the College website.
Individuals Applying for Registration Both as a Registered Social Worker and a Registered Social Service Worker
If you wish to apply for registration in both the social work category and the social service work category, you must complete two separate application forms and, if applicable, two supplemental forms, and submit two application fees. Only one registration fee is required. The College will assign only one reference number for both applications.
Members are eligible to vote in only one membership category. Indicate on both application forms the one membership category in which you prefer to vote if you are issued certificates of registration in both the social work and social service work categories.
The College membership year is January 1 to December 31.
Application and Registration Fees
General Registration Fees
Registration Fee – $360.00
Application Fee** – $100.00
Total Amount – $460.00
Registration Fees for new graduates from a social work or social service work program
Registration Fee* – $260.00
Application Fee** – $100.00
Total Amount – $360.00
Note: the application must be received by the College on or before December 31 of that year.
You are eligible for a $100 membership fee exemption for the first two years of membership immediately following registration if your application for registration is received by the College no later than December 31st of the year you obtain your degree or diploma. If you fail to pay the annual fee prior to the date on which the late penalty is effective in the first year of membership, you will not be eligible for the exemption in the subsequent year. This new graduate fee exemption also applies to those graduating with a Certificate in Social Work Practice from the Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals Program at Ryerson University.
- Fees must be submitted with the application form.
- Payment may be made by Visa or MasterCard, cheque or money order payable to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Please note: Once your cheque is deposited, we wait 10-12 business days to ensure the cheque clears before proceeding with your application. Payment by debit card including Visa Debit and Mastercard Debit is not accepted.
- Applicants are responsible for payment of fees to third-party providers, if applicable, such as credential evaluation assessments and/or translation services.
- Post-dated payment will not be accepted.
- The College doesn’t offer an instalment plan for payment of fees.
- A charge of $25 will be levied on each cheque/credit card payment not honoured.
- Although the registration process typically takes four to six weeks once the College has received all of the required documentation, paying by cheque may delay the process.
- If the Registrar issues a certificate of registration to you between April 1 and December 31, the College will pro-rate the registration fee based on a quarterly calculation. A refund, if owing, will be forwarded to you when you receive the certificate of registration and registration package.
- If you are applying to be a registered social worker and a registered social service worker, a non-refundable application fee of $100 is required for each application. However, only one registration fee is required for both applications.
- If you decide to withdraw your application form or if the Registrar proposes to refuse to issue a certificate of registration to you, you will receive a full refund of the registration fee, if applicable. The application fee is non-refundable.
Application Processing Times
The assessment of your application form does not begin until we have received all of the required documents and payment of your registration and application fees. The application process can be delayed because the College has not received all of the required documents from you or from a third party on your behalf (i.e. academic institution, employer, etc.).
The typical processing time for a general application based on having obtained an accredited social work degree/ approved social service work diploma is approximately four to six weeks.
The typical time for processing an application based on having a combination of academic qualifications and experience performing the role of a social worker or social service worker is approximately six months. These applications are complex and receive a detailed review. Currently the College is experiencing an exceedingly high volume of applications which may affect the timelines for evaluation.
Variables that May Slow Down the Registration/Evaluation Process
Any of the following circumstances would slow down the registration/evaluation process:
- Incomplete applications. Please double check your application before sending it to the College to ensure that it is completed in full.
- Receiving any/all transcripts from the applicant and not directly from the educational institution(s).
- Receiving transcripts lacking information (e.g., no indication if a degree/diploma was conferred/transfer credits without any indication as to what credit value they carry).
- When applicable, not receiving the academic institution’s official course descriptions for courses completed and taken in the year(s), which are confirmed on the transcript(s).
- When applicable, not providing a third-party evaluation assessment, which includes a “Credential Equivalency/Authentication Report and a Course-by-Course Analysis”, directly to the College.
- Failure to provide additional documents requested by the College.
- Receipt of additional documents in a language other than English or French.
Please read the Registration Checklist, found in all the registration guides, for more detailed information.
The Registrar’s Review
Upon review of the application form and any supporting documents, the Registrar may:
- Determine that you have met the requirements set out in the registration regulation and issue a certificate of registration to you.
- Issue a certificate of registration to you subject to terms, conditions or limitations to which you have consented.
- Determine that you have not met the requirements set out in the registration regulation and propose to refuse to issue a certificate of registration to you.
- Propose to impose terms, conditions or limitations on a certificate of registration to which you have not consented.