How to Register for your Independent Practice license in BC

Courtney Marie L.
Sep. 24, 2019
10-minute read

Before you start your independent practice, you need to make sure you’re fully licensed to legally practice unsupervised medicine in BC.

Applying for your provincial medical license is done through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC). Having this licence is what lets you diagnose and treat patients, order investigations, obtain and write prescriptions and essentially practice medicine.

Before you’re approved to practice, the CPSBC will carefully review your application credentials in order to determine you’ve got the correct education, training and relevant practice experience to practice independently.

You can expect to submit character references, health status and background checks from across Canada. Keep in mind that you’ll need to apply with the original copies of your credentials/qualifications along with official certificates.

Generally, it’s best to apply at least 3 months before you start working in order to make sure you receive your license in time. However, do not apply more than 3 months in advance as you’ll lose the non-refundable fees that BC charges for licensure. For example, for a July 1st start date submit your application on May 6th.

If you’re a locum or a permanent doctor and you only need to renew your license, scroll to the bottom of this article for the exact renewal steps.

Non-negotiable Requirements

You need to make sure you meet the following (non-negotiable) requirements:

  •  A medical degree from an accredited Canadian or US medical school (or from an acceptable international medical school).
  • Successful completion of Parts 1 and 2 of the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) or an acceptable alternative examination.
  •  Certification by examination by either the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) or the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC).
  •  Completion of one year of postgraduate training or active medical practice in Canada, or completion of a full clinical clerkship at an accredited Canadian medical school.
  • Canadian Citizenship or permanent resident status.


Registration Fee: $640

Preliminary Assessment of Qualifications: $600

Practice Permit fee: $1,700

More often than not, university programs in BC will help you apply for your Independent Practice license. However, for anyone who doesn’t have direct help, or for those of you who are switching between provinces, then all you need to do is follow the steps below, in the order that they appear.

***Please note that there might be additional steps involved depending on your specialty. If you’re not sure what you’ll need for registration then follow allow with CPSBC’s flow charts (click to expand).

  1. Family Practitioners Questionnaire Chart

  2. Specialists


Locums who are coming from another province in Canada still need obtain registration from the CPSBC. If you’re a locum and it’s your first time working in BC then please follow the same steps below, starting from Step 1. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom to see the renewal process.

How to apply for your Independent Practice Licence in BC

Please note that registration is a multi-step process. Follow along exactly with each step below.

Step 1: Create a ‘PhysiciansApply’ Account & Start the Application

Applications for independent practice registration must be submitted through physiciansapply. If you don’t already have an account, create one with your university email. Once inside, click on “Application for Medical Registration” in Canada. Then select “BC – Review of Qualifications.”

You will need to provide the following information on your online application:

  • Practice Intentions
    • Select an intended scope of practice.
    • Practice Intent: select components of your intended professional activity, select long-term; indicate intended start date; and write a little blurb about your practice intentions.
    • Intended practice location: complete this section to the best of your ability, keep it general if nothing is organized yet.
  • Personal Information
  • Contact Information
  • Medical Education
  • Canadian Credentials

If you’ve completed your medical education outside of Canada and would like to register in BC, then you’ll be expected to submit copies of your credentials for source verification. Your medical degree and passport must be verified as “Passed” before licensure by the College is approved.

Once your application is finished it will be sent to the CPSBC the next business day.

Here’s an example of what the ‘physiciansapply’ application
looks like:

Step 2: Documentation Requirements

Once CPSBC receives your application they will assign you a file manager. You can expect to wait a week before hearing from your file manager. The file manager will confirm your eligibility and email you further instructions regarding the next steps and what documents are required.

At this time, the file manager will activate a tracking system on your physicansapply account so that you can track the status of your application. Try to remember this as unfortunately, they won’t answer any emails or telephone calls regarding the status of an application.

This tracking system is the only way you’ll be able to find out what documents have been received and what documents are still outstanding.

Typical Documents include:

  • Complete an online orientation (instructions will be given in the email).
  • 3 Notarized ID documents (passport, driver’s licence, medical degree).
  • Resume
  • 3 reference letters (one has to be from your site director).
  •  Copy of medical degree
  • Primary BC business address + phone number (this is will appear on the College directory, if you don’t have a job offer yet you can put your personal address/PO box # and update it later).
  • Registration Waiver Form
  • English Language Proficiency Information Form
  • Certificate of Professional Conduct (if applicable, your file manager will give you exact details).

Once you’ve uploaded or sent the required documentation, you’ll receive an email from your file manager letting you know your application is complete. Processing time is around 6 weeks.

Step 3: Acceptance

Once you get approval you’ll receive an acceptance email from your file manager. At that time, annual licensure fees are posted to your College account for payment.

Medical billing in BC is confusing and can often be overwhelming. To help out, check out our complete MSP guide that walks you through each step of medical billing – from the general teleplan process to maximizing your claims and using mobile billing.

The Renewal Process

Each year, at the end of February, you’ll need to complete an online questionnaire about your practice and pay the annual renewal fee. The renewal fee for 2019 was $1,700.

Be careful not to be late on this, as anything on, or after, March 1st is subject to a $500 penalty. For each unpaid month thereafter, the penalty increases by $100 increments!

If you get to April and still haven’t renewed your license then your license gets suspended until you make the necessary payments.

Independent Practice Renewal Dates:

  • January 1st: Start of Annual Licence Renewal
  • February 1st: Deadline to Complete Renewal
  • March 1st: Penalties apply for late license renewal
  • April 1st: Suspension

How to Renew Your Independent License in BC

  1. You’ll get an email late December or early January from the CPSBC that includes a link.
  2. By clicking on the link you’ll be taken to the CPSBC website and be redirected to the questionnaire. 
  3. Once you finish the questionnaire, click save.
  4. You’ll be taken to a payment page where you can pay the annual fee by credit card, debit or interac online.

You’ll get a receipt within 2 to 5 business days after completion of the entire licence renewal process. You can access your receipt through the College website underneath your account settings.

Independent Practice license in BC ‘Renewal Rules’ for for Returning Locums

Depending on when you were last in BC, there are different rules you need to follow to renew your Independent Practice license. Read through the following scenarios to find the one that best describes your situation.

A. You’re a Locum returning to BC with less than 6 months from your last locum:

  • Provide an updated certificate of professional conduct from all the jurisdictions worked since the last locum in BC.
  • Pay a re-registration fee of C$640.
  • Pay fees of C$150 per month.

B. You’re a Locum returning to BC after 6 months – 1 year from your last locum:

  • Provide an updated certificate of professional conduct from all the jurisdictions worked since the last locum in BC.
  • Pay a re-registration fee of C$640.
  • Pay fees of C$150 per month.

C. You’re a Locum returning to BC between 1-3 years from the last locum:

  • Provide one reference.
  • Update pages 1 and 3 of the application for registration form.
  • Pay a re-registration fee of C$640.
  • Pay fees of C$150 per month.
  • Update a consent to a criminal record check form if it is five years old.

d. You’re a Locum returning to BC after 3 years or more from your last locum:

  • Complete the application for regi
    stration process.
  • Pay a re-registration fee of C$640.
  • Pay applicable licence renewal fees.

The Next Step…

If you’re a new physician, a locum, or coming from out-of-province, then the next step is to apply for your MSP practitioner number. This is the number that colleagues will use as your referring practitioner number and that you’ll use to submit claims.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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Courtney Marie L
Writer and editor with a demonstrated history of working in the Canadian healthcare sector and the publishing industry. Skilled in writing, editing, proofreading, Spanish to English translation, and teaching English as a second language. Strong communications professional with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Political Science from the University of Manitoba.
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