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Are you Considering Canada?

Are you considering immigrating to Canada?

As a dentist trained in a non-accredited dental program, obtaining licensure in Canada can be a long and challenging process. The information presented here has been gathered to provide a single place for prospective immigrants to learn about the process of becoming a dentist in Canada.

Dentistry Overview

To practice dentistry in Canada you must be licensed by the dental regulator in the province where you want to practice. All provincial dental regulators require that graduates of non-accredited dental programs have their credentials verified by the NDEB, complete the NDEB Equivalency Process, and pass the NDEB certification examination before they will issue a license. This process is designed to ensure that, before being licensed, each dentist has met the minimum standard of competence for dentists in Canada.

Non-accredited dental program: A dental program that issues a BDS/DDS/DMD degree that is located outside of Canada and has not been recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.

What you should know about dental education in Canada

The NDEB certification examination is a requirement for anyone who wants to obtain a dental license in Canada including those who have graduated from Canadian dental programs.

The examination tests the knowledge, skills and abilities expected of a beginning dental practitioner in Canada. Graduates of Canadian dental programs are expected to have obtained the knowledge required to be successful in this examination by the time they are ready to graduate from their dental program.

It may be helpful to consider differences between your dental education and a Canadian dental education program.

Graduates of Canadian dental programs have:

  • 2 – 4 years of pre-professional post-secondary education (ex. Bachelor Degree)
  • a minimum of 4 year DDS/DMD program

Canadian dental programs follow the ACFD Educational Framework for the Development of Competencies in Dental Programs. You can see it at:

How long will it take to get my NDEB certificate?

The first thing many people want to know is how long it will take to complete the examinations which are required to obtain a license. There is no single answer to this question.

Credential verification time can vary depending on the number of new applications received each year. Verification time is also dependent on the applicant submitting the required documents correctly. The NDEB has strict document requirements and will not make exceptions to those requirements. If documents need to be resubmitted credential verification time is increased.

Current credential verification time: 16 Weeks

Once your application is approved you can participate in the examinations. There are three examinations in the Equivalency Process: the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ) and the NDECC. You must pass the first exam before being eligible for the next and so on. How quickly you complete the examination process is dependent on passing the exam. If an individual passes on the first attempt they can generally take the second exam within six months; however, many candidates take the examinations more than once before being successful and moving to the next examination.

Sample timeline of an Equivalency Process applicant in who is successful on each attempt 

January 2023 - Application and Credential Verification

August 2023 - Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge

May 2024 - Assessment of Clinical Judgment

October 2024 - NDECC

May 2025 - Virtual OSCE

July 2025 - CERTIFIED

Sample timeline of an Equivalency Process applicant if required to repeat test

January 2023 - Application and Credential Verification

August 2023 - Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge

February 2024 - Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge

November 2024 - Assessment of Clinical Judgment

May 2025 - Assessment of Clinical Judgment

October 2025 - NDECC

March 2026 - NDECC

November 2026 - Virtual OSCE

January 2027 - CERTIFIED


Percentage of candidates that are successful
on each exam the first time.

One important factor to consider is that two of the three examinations in the Equivalency Process can be taken three times. If a person fails one of these examinations three times, they cannot continue in the process and therefore cannot pursue a license without going back to school and obtaining a dental degree from an accredited university.

How much does it cost to go through this process?

The total cost of the process from credential verification to certification is $13,250.00 Cdn.

When participating in the Equivalency Process, candidates might consider taking test preparation courses that provide training for NDEB examinations. Participation in these programs can be very costly and the costs are often advertised as part of the process to become a licensed dentist. You should be aware that participation in these types of courses is not required to take NDEB examinations. The NDEB is not affiliated, nor does it endorse any such programs.

If you choose to participate in test preparation courses, keep in mind that the disclosure, distribution, solicitation, and reconstruction of NDEB examination content is strictly prohibited and that the use for commercial purposes of NDEB examination content including the released examination material will be considered as a violation of copyright laws which could be subject to legal action and damages.

* This total cost will change if examinations are taken more than once.

Life as a licensed dentist in Canada

The dental profession in Canada can be rewarding; however, it is necessary to be aware of the challenges you might face and requirements necessary to best serve the Canadian public.

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) has developed a toolkit that provides resources for internationally trained dentists. Visit Adapting to Professional Life as an Internationally Trained Dentist in Canada for information ranging from laws and regulations and communication, to the economic realities of practice.