FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About:
  •  
  • General Questions
  • Registration Questions
  • Renewal Questions
  • Fee Questions
  • Continuing Education Questions 

General Questions 

Is the profession deregulated in BC?

No. In 2010, the BC Ministry of Health removed some of the restrictions that allow only opticians, optometrists, or people supervised by them to dispense eyeglasses. This meant that dispensing of eyeglasses was no longer a restricted practice, but it did not deregulate the profession. Many regulated health professions, such as physiotherapy, have no restricted activities. Being an optician is still regulated, there are just no restrictions on who can sell eyeglasses.  

Licensing with your college means that you have invested in extensive education and training to work as a professional in your field. It recognises the skills and knowledge you possess and the integrity you have in the work that you do. It shows that you are serious about public safety as a provider of healthcare and recognise the risks to the public that exists without regulation. 

Can I work as an optician without being registered with COBC?

If you are not registered with the College of Opticians of BC (COBC) you cannot call yourself an optician, dispensing optician, contact lens fitter or any variation of the title (such as optical dispenser or the title in another language). Some activities that opticians perform are no longer restricted but performing those activities does not make someone an optician. Being an optician means that you must meet all requirements under the Health Professions Act, College Bylaws and Standards of Practice. These regulations and standards are set to ensure that the public receives a consistent level of care from an optician. COBC’s continuing education program, and standards of practice ensure that level of care is met. 

Licensed Opticians are also eligible to register in other provinces thanks to the Labour Mobility agreement. 

What does COBC do for me?

As a regulatory college, we have a very specific role to fulfill, as defined by the Health Professions Act. The role of a regulatory college is to ensure public safety, not protect opticians. In short, the reason we exist is not to provide you with a service but to ensure the public receives safe and competent healthcare and that there is accountability if a provider’s practice puts a member of the public at risk.

This is different from professional associations such as the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) that advocates on behalf of opticians with a mandate to consult with its members on key initiatives. 

Do you have a job board I can post on, or that I can use to find an employee?

No, COBC does not have a job board that opticians can post on or use to find employees. Having a job board falls outside of COBC’s public protection mandate. The Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) holds a Workforce Wednesday that job advertisements can be posted on. To inquire about the OAC job board contact Dalie Schellen at dschellen@opticians.ca  or (431) 441-2172

 

Registration Questions

How do I register as an optician in B.C?

Our Supplemental Package for Registration explains all of the requirements for registration. If you have any questions while you’re working through the Supplemental Package, I’m here to help!

When is my registration renewal deadline?

Registrants are required to submit their online renewal and payment by March 31 every year. The COBC registration runs from mid February to March 31.

COBC sends renewal notices by via email in February and March.

I have been suspended.  How do I reinstate my license?

COBC suspends registrants for two main reasons: non-payment of renewal fees, and incomplete quality assurance requirements. 

If you wish to reinstate and your license has been suspended for 3 years or less, you must submit the following:

  1. Reinstatement of registration form online. 
  2. Proof of completion of continuing competency requirements if your cycle has ended.
  3. Criminal record re-check, if your criminal record check has expired
  4. A reinstatement fee 
  5. The current year’s annual renewal of registration fee.

If your license has been suspended for over 3 years, you will be required to complete a competency assessment to ensure you still meet the standards for opticianry skills and knowledge. 

How do I transfer my license to another province or territory in Canada?

Licensed Opticians in British Columbia must request a Letter of Good Standing from COBC to be sent to the regulatory body in the other province/territory. This letter advises the province or territory you are moving to that all licensure requirements are up to date, including fees, continuing education requirements, and criminal record checks. To request a Letter of Good Standing contact us at reception@cobc.ca. 

You will also have to submit a registration application to the regulatory body of the province/territory you are moving to.

When can I apply for non-practicing status?

Non-practicing status is for Opticians not working within the field of opticianry. Most Opticians with non-practicing status work in another field or are on medical or parental leave.

Non-practicing Licensed Opticians should not be employed in the Province of BC in opticianry or practicing under the supervision of an eye care professional. 

I did not graduate from an accredited institution in Canada.  Can I apply for registration?

Yes! COBC uses the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process to ensure that applicants who did not complete an accredited Canadian education program have the same skills and knowledge as those who did. For more information, visit the Non-Accredited Graduates & International Applicants page.

How do I complete my certification for automated refracting?

To become certified in automated refracting you must first finish an approved program of study and submit an online change of status application. Once you have submitted the application, and necessary forms, you will be contacted by COBC to complete a jurisprudence examination.

 Why do I need a Criminal Records Re-check?

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (MPSSG) requires all professionals working with children or vulnerable adults to undergo a criminal record check every five years. This is required by the Criminal Record Review Act. As health care professionals, opticians may work with vulnerable adults and children. Therefore, a criminal record check is required at initial registration, and every 5 years after that.  

A criminal records check conducted by the RCMP does not satisfy the MPSSG’s requirements.

What is the minimum amount of professional liability insurance I need?  What does COBC consider proof of insurance?

You are required to have a minimum of $1,000,000 (one million) in professional liability insurance on a per occurrence basis at all times.  

COBC requires a certificate of insurance that indicates your insurance is valid for the entire licensure cycle (April 1- March 31) and that the insurance policy provides a minimum of $1,000,000 on a per occurrence basis. You must be named on the certificate. If your employer is named on the certificate, you must provide proof of employment to COBC. 

 

Renewal Questions

How do I renew?

You are required to renew your license online by logging into your profile through the COBC website. You submit a renewal application and your payment online.

Before you begin renewal:

  • Ensure your continuing education requirements are completed if due; and
  • Ensure your criminal record check is current or completed if due. 

Renewals that are incomplete or contain insufficient payment will NOT be processed and will be considered late if received after March 31. 

Please make sure your email address is up to date. You may login to your profile on our website to make changes to your personal information at any time.

My Continuing Competency Program (CCP) is past due. Can I still renew my registration online?

No. You must submit your CCP requirements to be eligible to renew your license. If you need to request an extension, please contact COBC to discuss.

My criminal record re-check is past due. Can I still renew my registration online?

Yes. Your online renewal can still be submitted.

If you require a criminal record re-check, you have already been contacted and must apply to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Please contact COBC with any questions or if you are not able to complete this process. Please note that a police or RCMP check is not an acceptable substitute. 

How do I know that my renewal has gone through? 

You will receive an email confirmation that your renewal has been submitted. If you are unsure whether your renewal was successful, please contact COBC. 

Please only hit the “Submit” button once or you will be charged multiple times. 

Can my employer pay for my registration renewal fee amount?

Yes. When it is time to pay online, your employer can pay by credit card on the application or send an e-transfer. 

  • Your employer must note the following in the memo section of the e-transfer: full name and license number or your payment will not be applied to your renewal.
  • If your employer is paying for multiple licenses in one e-transfer they must list all names and license numbers that the payment is to be applied. This will ensure timely processing for all parties.  
  • E-transfers are sent to to reception@cobc.ca
  • Carefully look at the amount due on your renewal confirmation, and send the EXACT amount or your payment will not be applied to your renewal.

Your renewal will be submitted, but it will not be processed until we receive your employer’s payment. Please note that COBC no longer accepts cheques.

When do I get my receipt?

Receipts will now be available in your online profile for you to download or print. Receipts will be available on your profile within 5 working days of submission.

Do I need professional liability insurance to renew? 

Yes. You must ensure that you have continuous coverage with at least $1,000,000 per occurrence and check off the confirmation box on the online form. You are not required to submit proof unless requested. 

Is it safe to put my private information and credit card number in the online renewal application? 

Yes. Your private information and credit card number will be safe and secure in our system. No credit card information is ever stored, tracked or viewed. Personal information is kept in a secure, internal, password-protected database, which is not stored online. 

Can I update my information after renewal? 

Yes. You can update your information anytime, and are encouraged to do so whenever your contact information has changed. To update your information, login to your online profile and then choose to “My Profile” on the top of the screen. Update your personal information and save. The new information will then be changed in our database. 

You can also change your password to something you can easily remember. 

I don’t have a computer. How do I renew online?

You can go to your local public library, ask a friend or family member, or you can even visit COBC if you live in the Lower Mainland area. 

How can I get some assistance or technical support?

If you still need help, you can contact COBC by calling (604) 742-6472 or emailing reception@cobc.ca. We are happy to help you go through this online process.

 

Fee Questions

What are the fees for registration?

Fees for initial registration and renewal of registration can be found on our website here. 

Why do we increase our fees each year?
As a not-for-profit regulatory authority created by Government under the Health Professions Act, COBC is funded entirely by registrant fees. As a result of this structure, we are restricted from implementing alternative or creative revenue streams to offset our costs. In 2018, the COBC Board determined that our fees were not generating enough revenue to sustain even the minimum amount of work required to fulfill our mandate to protect the public so for the first time in six years, the decision was made to increase fees. 

Since then, we have communicated the necessity to introduce incremental increases each year. This is in part to avoid a large one-off increase making the raise more manageable each year for registrants and more sustainable for COBC. When raising fees, the rate of inflation and increased costs incurred by the ongoing evolution of regulation in BC are all taken into consideration. 

In the near future, COBC will be amalgamating with several other regulatory colleges and while this will eventually make our work more efficient, we may incur initial costs through the process. 

What does COBC do with my fees?
Registrant fees are the only revenue COBC receives. This revenue must cover the general costs of running an organisation such as rent, staff, and equipment. We also invest in the essential, statutory programs that make up the work we do to fulfil our mandate. This can include building new systems for Quality Assurance, funding inquiries, and creating education materials for Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility. 

Every year we release our Annual Reports and Audited Financial Statements which contain detailed information about where we have invested our revenue. Please feel free to take a look at the current year if you have any further questions. 

 

Continuing Education Questions

What is the Continuing Competency Program (CCP)?

The CCP is the mandatory continuing education program administered by COBC, required to be completed by all registrants, practicing or non-practicing. It is a quality assurance tool that supports registrants in their professional development, to ensure they maintain a level of quality practice throughout their careers. The program includes a method of competency assessment and enables registrants to enhance competence within the context of their practice. It was launched in 2018, replacing the credits-based program.

What are the requirements?

The program is self-managed online, and can be broken down into the following 4 steps:

1. Taking the online continuing competency assessment 

2. Creating at least 6 learning goals in chosen competency areas

3. Achieving those goals, through planned educational activities 

4. Reflecting on learning outcomes 

These steps are further detailed on the Continuing Competency Program page.

How often is it completed?

Registrants will work on the CPP at their own pace, over the course of 3 years. Each registrant is expected to be done their program requirements by the end of their 3-year period, before starting over on a new program for their next 3-year cycle. 

Is it still a requirement to collect and submit credits?

No. While registrants must still complete some continuing education activities for the CPP, the requirements are no longer credits-based, so the collection and submission of credits is not required. Instead, the program is competency-based, so registrants will be finding learning activities that are relevant to the goals they are trying to achieve and entering those activities into their program. 

Are there instruction manuals or other materials to help understand/complete the CCP?

Yes. A detailed information guide, step-by-step instruction manuals with screenshots, and a full walkthrough video have all been created to assist registrants with the program. These and other program materials can be found on our Guides & Tools page, including a much more expansive and detailed Frequently Asked Questions document, specific to the CCP.