Non-Accredited DH Program Applicants

This page is for you if you are a graduate of a non-accredited dental hygiene program, including international applicants, and you do not hold a current practising licence in another Canadian jurisdiction.  

 We look forward to having you join the dental hygiene profession in Nova Scotia.

Are you a graduate from an international dental hygiene program? Please review the Pathway to Licensure for Internationally Educated Dental Hygienists.

The CDHNS licence year runs from November 1 to October 31. Practising licences expire on October 31 of each year. CDHNS registrants must renew their practising licence and pay the required fees each year. 

From August to October, we ask you to carefully consider if you plan on applying for the licensing year that ends on October 31, OR for the upcoming renewal year that begins on Nov 1. Starting Aug 1, on the application form, you will be asked to confirm which year you intend to apply for your initial licence. The full licensing fee is due regardless of when you are issued a practising licence during the year. 


Before you begin, it’s important to know:

  • We are available to help if you have any questions. Reach out to us at and we will respond within one to three business days.
  • We have developed a checklist to assist you with gathering the necessary documents.
  • All application documents must be provided in English or French. Translations from a professional (certified) translator are also accepted. You are responsible for the cost of all translations. If you had your documents translated for another organization e.g., FDHRC/NDHCB, we will accept a copy of those previously translated documents (if done by a certified translator, as noted above,) if they are sent directly from that organization.

Steps in the Registration and Licensing Process

As set out in sections 3 through 10 of the Regulations and the College’s registration policies, an applicant must meet the following requirements to be registered and issued a practising licence. Detailed information of each step is found below this initial step summary. 

  1. Establish Academic Eligibility:
    • Successfully complete a non-accredited dental hygiene program.
    • Apply to have the Federation of Dental Hygiene Regulators of Canada (FDHRC) evaluate your dental hygiene credentials to determine eligibility to write the exam.
  2. If deemed eligible by the FDHRC, successfully complete the written National Dental Hygiene Certification Exam (NDHCE).
  3. Complete online registration and licensing application form, with application fee.
  4. This will include acquiring a Certificate of Clinical Competency as defined by the Council [i.e., completion of clinical (performance-based) exams].
  5. Compile required documentation.
  6. Complete registration and licensing process, including payment of final fees.
  7. Complete interview with the Registrar.

Applications for Registration and Licensing are reviewed by the Registrar. In accordance with the Act (Sections 14 and 17), the Credentials Committee may review an application for registration or licensing upon referral by the Registrar, or at the applicant’s request. See Registration and Licensing Policies for more details. 

(a) Successfully complete a non-accredited dental hygiene program.

In Nova Scotia, the practice of dental hygiene is governed under the Dental Hygienists Act, 2009.  Dental hygienists in Nova Scotia must comply with the Act, as well as with the Bylaws and Standards of Practice of the College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia (CDHNS). 

The basic qualification for registration and licensure in Nova Scotia is that an applicant must have graduated from a dental hygiene program that has been accredited by either the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) or by the Commission on Dental Accreditation in the United States (CODA).

A non-accredited DH program is assessed in order to determine whether it is equivalent to an accredited program.

(b) Apply to have the Federation of Dental Hygiene Regulators of Canada (FDHRC) evaluate your dental hygiene credentials to determine eligibility to take the national dental hygiene exam(s).

Apply to the FDHRC to have your educational credentials assessed. Further information and contact details for FDHRC can be found on their website at

If the FDHRC has indicated that it will not be able to complete an assessment of an applicant’s dental hygiene program, or if the FDHRC has determined that an applicant is not eligible to write the exam, then the applicant may apply to the CDHNS Credentials Committee for an assessment.

Please note: The FDHRC and the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board (NDHCB) amalgamated effective January 1, 2022. The new organization is operating as the FDHRC. The national written exam is called the NDHCE and the performance-based exam is called the CPEDH.   

As part of the required documentation, you must provide an original copy of your NDHCE certificate, verifying that you successfully completed the written examination. Alternatively, you may submit a notarized* copy of your NDHCE certificate. 

ExplanationThe NDHCE written examination is delivered by the Federation of Dental Hygiene Regulators of Canada (FDHRC). This written exam tests whether an applicant possesses the necessary theoretical knowledge, skills, attitude and judgment required for entry-level practice. The NDHCE tab provides information on the exam objectives, eligibility criteria, application procedures (including accommodations for testing), development process, format, content, security measures, scoring and exam review application process. You will find the Policies and Procedures on the FDHRC websiteThe examination is held in May and again in September and January (depending on applicants) at Dalhousie University, Halifax and at a variety of other sites across Canada. A list of examination sites and the deadlines for application to write the examination are posted on the FDHRC website. 

*Notarized: A Notary public, Commissioner of Oaths, or Lawyer to sign or seal the required documentation. Alternatively, original documents may be brought into the CDHNS office in person, where staff will authenticate documents. (If you wish to bring in your original document, please contact the CDHNS office to schedule an appointment.) Contact: or 902-444-7241.  

Important: On Jan 1, 2022, the Federation of Dental Hygiene Regulators of Canada (FDHRC) and the NDHCB amalgamated. The new organization is operating as the FDHRC and the written exam certificate is called the NDHCE certificate.  

Registration is available online. Start by submitting Part 1 of the Application for Registration and Licensing (completing a Registrant Profile).

Once you have completed the Registrant Profile, you will be sent an email confirmation that includes a link to your application. 

  • You may also upload the necessary documentation required. You DO NOT have to upload all of the documents at once.
  • Your application will not be reviewed until you submit the non-refundable application fee.
  • The balance of the fees must be paid before your application will be considered complete. Please review the full listing of fees here.  
  • The next steps provide further details on the required documentation. You will also find this information summarized in the application checklist, which is listed below. It can also be downloaded directly from the application form.  

Registration and Licensing Application Checklist for Nov 1, 2023 to Oct 31, 2024

Graduates of non-accredited dental hygiene programs who want to be registered to practice in Nova Scotia are required to meet all the requirements for registration and licensure, and meet any additional requirements approved by the Council.

As a new applicant, who is not registered in another Canadian jurisdiction, this will include acquiring a Certificate of Clinical Competency as defined by the Council (e.g., successfully completing the Canadian Performance Based Exam in Dental Hygiene, CPEDH, or the earlier provincial equivalent examinations). If you already have a Certificate of Clinical Competency, please arrange to have it sent directly to the CDHNS. 

If you have been informed that you are required to complete the CPEDH, please go to for further information. This link includes the Candidate Guide for the CPEDH and other Examination Preparation Resources.

The next exam will be offered November 4-5, 2023 in Scarborough, Ontario. Registration opened in June. Please check the link above for updates on the upcoming CPEDH offerings. 

There is no specific order that the documentation, listed below, must be provided. However, before your application will be considered complete, all applicable documentation must be received. 

A. Provide proof of identity, including verification that you are a Canadian citizen or legally allowed to work in Canada. 

  • Upload a passport-sized photo in a format appropriate for a regulator e.g., business casual clothing. This does not have to be an actual passport photo. This gives you an example of the image size and that it should be a full facial profile (head and shoulders). You may smile in your photo.  
  • Upload a copy of your birth certificate. If this is in a language other than English or French, please provide a translation.   
  • Legally authorized to work in Canada. If you were not born in Canada, please upload a Canadian passport, your employment visa, or permanent resident document. 
  • Name changes: If your current name differs from that on the birth certificate and/or transcript, upload evidence of a name change e.g., driver’s licence, passport, marriage licence, or other government issued ID.

B. Currency in Practice
Applicants must meet one of the following:

    • Completion of a dental hygiene diploma or degree within the 3 years immediately preceding the date the application for registration is received. (The transcript, diploma or degree plus the Certificate of Clinical Competency, outlined in Step 1 is sufficient, if you graduated less than three years ago);
    • Provide evidence of practice as a dental hygienist within the 3 years immediately preceding the date of the application for registration is received. If applicable, evidence of the 600 practice hours must be in the form of a signed letter from the employer (on letterhead), ROE (Record of Employment), or another acceptable alternative document, as determined by the Registrar; or
    • Have successfully completed a Council-approved alternate requirement (e.g., refresher education program) within the year immediately preceding the date the application for registration is received. (Documentation required - certificate of successful completion, plus the cover letter from the educational institution, with the relevant individual assessment.) 

C. Have Currency in Continuing Education (Continuing Competence)
Applicants must meet one of the following:

    • Completion of a dental hygiene diploma or degree within the 3 years immediately preceding the date the application for registration is received. (As noted in B, the transcript you provide is sufficent evidence);
    • Provide evidence of having obtained 45 hours of continuing dental hygiene education within the 3 years immediately preceding the date of the application for registration is received. (This is entered directly within the application.)or
    • Have successfully completed a Council-approved alternate requirement (e.g., refresher education program) within the year immediately preceding the date the application for registration is received.  (Documentation required: Upload the certificate of successful completion, plus the cover letter from the refresher course educational institution.) 

D. Upload the certificate verifying you have completed the Nova Scotia Jurisprudence Examination.
Applicants must successfully complete a jurisprudence exam for Nova Scotia which assesses an applicant’s understanding of the legislation, standards of practice, and other matters relevant to the practice of dental hygiene in Nova Scotia. There are two courses (with exams) that meet these criteria — the Jurisprudence Course (JP) for Nova Scotia or the Self-Initiation (SI) Course for Nova Scotia (exam includes SI and JP exam content). 

    • It is strongly recommended that you complete the NS Self-Initiation (SI) Course, unless you are applying for an exemption, since all dental hygienists must be authorized to self-initiate within two years of initial licensure [Regulations 8 (1) (h)].
      • Alternatively, you may request an exemption from completing the SI course, and provide evidence that you have the equivalent education/experience to that provided by the self-initiation module, as determined by the Registrar. [Regulations 8(1) (h) (ii)] If approved, you will not be required to complete the SI course. You will still be required to complete the NS JP course. 

        Please contact CDHNS to request the template for submission.

    • Both the SI and JP courses are offered as online courses through the CDHA. Please contact CDHA directly to register, or for further details on the courses. 
    • Note: If you successfully complete the Self-Initiation Course (Nova Scotia), you are not required to complete the separate NS JP exam. 
    • Review the Act and Regulations on the Legislative Information page.

E. Demonstrate Good Conduct/Good Character  

  • Verification of Registration (evidence that you are in good standing in any previous jurisdiction) Complete the form provided by CDHNS. Follow these steps:  
    • Complete Part A of the form and send it directly to each jurisdiction where you are, or have been previously certified, licensed, or registered as a dental hygienist. 
    • The jurisdictional regulatory body must complete Part B and send the completed form directly to the CDHNS.
      Note: If you currently hold an unrestricted practising licence in another Canadian Jurisdiction, please go to the Tab entitled Applicants Currently Registered or Licensed in another Canadian Jurisdiction, and follow the application steps provided there.   
  • Self-declaration: In addition to the good standing verification from other jurisdictions, as applicable, there are good character questions that you must self-declare on the application form. 

F. Upload a perment CPR Card/Certificate, completed at the level required by Council, taken within the last 12 months. Must include both a classroom instruction and a practical component. See CPR Information and Courses for further details.

G. Upload your Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) policy(ies), as required by legislation and Council policy. You must have PLI for the full period for which you are applying for your initial practising licence. 

H. Evidence of English language proficiency, This is necessary for safe and competent practice. If there is no equivalent English proficiency requirement in the jurisdiction where you are currently registered, your primary language is not English and/or your program of study was conducted in a language other than English, you will be required to provide proof of English language competency. Please refer to the current English language requirements.

Time Frames for Processing Applications

Applications are processed in the order in which they are completed. We do our best to process all applications in a timely manner. Typically, applications take about 4-6 weeks to be completed and for individuals to be placed on the CDHNS Register and issued a practising licence. This timing depends on the length of time it takes the applicant to provide all of the necessary documentation and fees. During busier times, e.g., renewals and when multiple new graduates apply, this time frame may be extended. Please inform potential employers of this time frame, so that they can schedule your anticipated start date, accordingly.

The attached document provides you with a listing of potential application, registration, and licensing fees.

Payment Methods
For all applications, we accept certified cheques or money orders, e-transfers, and credit card payments. When an invoice is generated, it will include further details on how to complete the methods of payment. 

To ensure you are appropriately credited, provide the following information for all payment forms: 

  • the first name and last name of the individual who submitted the application form.
    • This must match the name on the initial application.
  • the invoice number related to that payment. Please remember that the invoice for your registration and licensing fee will be generated later in the application process. Your application invoice fee will be generated as soon as you submit your application.  

We accept credit card payment through Plastiq. Using Plastiq, a third-party service provider, you can pay with MasterCard, Visa or American Express:

Please note that payments may take 3-5 business days to process and that a Plastiq service fee will be applied (up to 2.9% for credit cards, 1% for debit cards).

For more information about Plastiq, review Frequently Asked Questions About Plastiq

Applicants are required to meet with the Registrar, virtually. 

This is the last step in the application process. An interview is not booked until the rest of the registration process is complete. Once an application is complete, the CDHNS will contact you to schedule this interview.

The purpose of this structured interview is to ensure that newly licensing registrants understand their professional obligations regarding the practice of dental hygiene in Nova Scotia, including obligations under the Act and Regulations.

The interview will highlight:

  • Sections 25 through 28 of the Regulations;
  • the Order or Protocol, Appendix A to the Dental Hygiene Regulations (if applicable);
  • the Continuing Competency Program Requirements document; and
  • any other relevant information pertinent to the specific registrant.

During this interview, you are able to ask questions and obtain clarity on any area of the legislation, or elements of dental hygiene practice, that may be unclear.