International applicants

Optical professionals who have completed their education or gained industry experience outside of Canada can apply to complete the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process.
In this process:
  • PLAR candidates complete a series of tests.
  • Based on the test results, candidates may be required to do additional learning.
  • Once the testing and required learning are complete, candidates take the national licensing examination(s) and apply to be licensed in BC.
The goal of PLAR is to enable internationally trained optical professionals to enter the Canadian optical industry more quickly and easily.
PLAR is managed by the National Alliance of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR). More information, including application requirements, can be found on the NACOR website.
For more information about becoming an optician in Canada, visit

Steps to register with COBC as an international applicant
  1. Apply for PLAR
    Download the application package from the NACOR website. Complete and submit the package to NACOR, along with all required documentation.
    The documentation must demonstrate sufficient education and/or experience in opticianry or a related field (e.g., optometry).   
  2. Complete the PLAR tests
    PLAR tests can be completed online, from anywhere in the world. They consist of multiple-choice questions and case scenarios in four different areas:
    • Professional Practice (120 questions, 2-hour time limit)*
    • Eyeglasses & Low Vision (165 questions, 2.5-hour time limit)*
    • Contact Lenses (140 questions, 2-hour time limit)
    • Refracting (120 questions, 2-hour time limit)

      * Professional Practice and Eyeglasses & Low Vision are mandatory for all PLAR applicants.

  3. Receive PLAR results
    PLAR results are sent by email from On average, candidates receive results within 1–2 weeks of completing their final test. (Candidates will receive one email with results for all PLAR tests completed.)   
  4. Complete additional learning (if applicable)
    If a candidate requires additional learning (as indicated by the PLAR results), they will be assigned online learning modules. Instructions for accessing modules will be included with the results. Each module is accompanied by a short online “post-test” to confirm comprehension. The candidate must pass the post-test to complete the module.
    Candidates who are not assigned any additional learning may proceed directly to Step 5.   
  5. Pass the national licensing exam(s)
    More information about the national licensing exams can be found here. Applications can be submitted directly to NACOR.   
  6. Register with COBC
    All registration requirements are detailed in COBC’s Supplemental Package for Registration.