International Medical Graduate Living in Ontario

As an international medical graduate (IMG) – someone who has completed his or her postgraduate residency training outside of Canada or the United States and whose medical degree is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) – navigating your way through licensing and certification in Ontario can be challenging, time-consuming and complicated.

Learn more about practice requirements, licensing and certification in Ontario and how HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency can help you achieve your goals.

Practice Requirements

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) regulates the practice of medicine in Ontario and issues certificates of registration to physicians to allow them to practise. An IMG who wishes to obtain an Ontario Certificate of Independent Practice through the CPSO must first meet the following registration requirements set out by the College:

  1. Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or authorization to work in Canada.
  2. Passing results on the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) examinations.
  3. Proof of language proficiency. This may involve taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  4. Certification by either the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) or the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC).
  5. Completion of 1 year of postgraduate training or active medical practice in Canada, or completion of a full clinical clerkship at an accredited Canadian medical school.

Licensing and Certification

This information is presented as a general guideline. Please visit the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) website for the most up-to-date information regarding certification of registration. All information regarding licensure, examinations etc needs to be verified by contacting the appropriate regulatory and examining bodies.

An International Medical Graduate (IMG) can apply to Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS) through the Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) pathway. CaRMS works in close cooperation with the medical education community, medical schools and students to provide an electronic application service and a computer match for entry into postgraduate medical training throughout Canada. Approximately 1,500 IMGs apply through CaRMS each year for approximately 250 residency positions in Ontario. Positions are granted to the most suitable candidates. Please visit the CaRMS website to view the full list of eligibility requirements. Because of the limited number of positions available each year, the process can be challenging and highly competitive. Only the most suitable candidates are selected based on the following: 

  • Obtaining good scores on your Medical Council of Canada exams;
  • Professional practice experience;
  • Past performance in medical school;
  • Excellent communication (verbal and written) skills;
  • Reference letters;
  • Complete and professional CaRMS application; and
  • Your interview (if selected).

The above criteria does not guarantee a postgraduate medical training position (residency).

CFPC or RCPSC Certification

To obtain registration to practice in Ontario, physicians must have a specialty designation from either the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).

  • Find more information on receiving certification as a family medicine specialist from the CFPC.
  • Find more information on receiving certification as a specialist from the RCPSC.


An IMG who successfully completes a training position will be required to fulfill a 5-year Return of Service (ROS) contract in an underserviced community in Ontario. The ROS agreement is signed with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

How the Access Centre Can Help

The Access Centre within the HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency recognizes the challenges faced by IMGs living in Ontario and helps by providing information, advice and support during this process.

The Access Centre provides the following services to registered IMG clients:

  • Intake and referral through e-mail and telephone.
  • Information sessions focused on pathways to practise.
  • Individualized plan of action to discuss licensing and certification via telephone, in-person or Skype appointment with an IEHP Advisor.
  • On-site resource and reference library.
  • CaRMS application guidance.
  • Interview preparation.

If you are not a registered client of the Access Centre and would like detailed information on the licensing process for an International Medical Graduate, please register online.

If you have previously registered as a client and are seeking services offered to registered clients or have questions regarding any aspect of the licensure process, please call 416-862-2200 ext 1 or toll free 1-800-596-4046 ext 1 or e-mail

Information Sessions

Information sessions bring together groups of internationally educated health professions with a common goal. These sessions focus on various aspects of the registration process. Learn more.

Orientation and Communication Courses

If you are interested in acquiring a better understanding of the Canadian health care system and context of the Canadian medical culture, orientation and communication courses are available.