Frequently Asked Questions About:

1.  Why do I need to be licensed?  What does COBC do for me?

COBC sets the framework for the professional self-regulated profession of opticianry to protect the public in British Columbia. This means that COBC establishes and supports the standards of care and acts when the standards are not being met. The public trusts that Licensed Opticians provide high quality, competent and professional care to help health care consumers achieve better vision. 

As a Licensed Optician, the public will be able to find you on COBC's online registry; can trust that you adhere to COBC's Standards of Practice, Bylaws and Code of Ethics; and are accountable for your services. 

2.  When is my registration renewal deadline?

Registrants are required to submit their renewal form along with supporting documentation and payment by March 31 every year. The COBC registration runs from April 1 to March 31.

Registrants will normally receive their annual registration renewal notice by the end of February via email. 

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

Besides disciplinary action, COBC suspends registrants for two main reasons: non-payment of fees, and incomplete quality assurance requirements. Please ensure that COBC has your updated and preferred email address, and that you advise COBC of any other change of address or contact information to ensure you receive all communication regarding your license. 

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 (contact COBC office to request one); 
  2. Proof of completion of quality assurance requirements (past CE or CCP); 
  3. Criminal record check completion
  4. Reinstatement fee of $290 for each suspended or cancelled year; and 
  5. The current year's annual renewal of registration fee.
If your license has been suspended for over 3 years, the Registration Committee will review your application for reinstatement, which may result in an assessment of your opticianry skills and knowledge and the need for bridging courses to be completed. Please contact COBC for further guidance. 

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

Similarly, an applicant for registration entering British Columbia who is in good standing in another province or territory of Canada will be accepted for registration without further examination in the category they meets the general registration requirements for, provided COBC receives a Letter of Good Standing and completed registration application.

5.  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 opticinary or practicing under the supervision of an eye care professional. If your license has been non- practicing for over 3 years, the Registration Committee will review your application for practicing, which may result in an assessment of your opticianry skills and knowledge and the need for bridging courses to be completed. Please contact COBC for further guidance. 

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

Yes, COBC has a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process that assesses the candidate's eligibility to become a licensed optician in BC. This assessment entails an initial document assessment, a Competency Gap Analysis, and in-person interview. These assessment results are then considered by COBC to ascertain if the candidate is eligible to challenge the national examination or must complete bridging courses to meet the entry-to-practice standards for opticianry in Canada.

7.  How do I complete my certification as an Automated Refracting Optician?

To become certified as an Automated Refracting Optician, registrants must first finish an approved program of study and submit Form 4-Notification of Use of Automated Refraction Equipment, which can be found on our website under Resources. You can also submit your application online. Please click here, and choose "Change Status" from the registration options. Once you have submitted the Form 4, you will be contacted by College staff for the online jurisprudence seminar.

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

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

Registrants are required to have a minimum of $1,000,000 (one million) in professional liability insurance on a per occurrence basis at all times.  The College requires a certificate of insurance that indicates that 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.


1.  What are the requirements for the new Continuing Competency Program (CCP)?

If you are unsure what you need to do to meet the new CCP requirements, an explanation can be found here, along with a link to all of the Guides & Tools to help you get started and complete all of the necessary steps.

2.  Do I still need to complete the CCP requirements if I am non-practicing?

Yes, non-practicing registrants are still required to complete the CCP. Non-practicing status is designed for registrants who are temporarily not working as an optician. These registrants are still entitled to use the restricted title 'Optician' and therefore must maintain the same requirements as those who are practicing.

3.  I understand that I no longer need to acquire/submit credits for the CCP, but I still need to find and complete education to add to my program. What kind of activities can I participate in?

In-person and online courses are still acceptable ways to complete your learning for the new program. However, you can also complete your continuing education requirements through study clubs, supervising student opticians, volunteer work, publications, etc. COBC welcomes creative methods of furthering your knowledge of opticianry and completing your CCP requirements. If you need consultation on how to complete your requirements, please contact us.

4.  What if I have more questions about the new CCP requirements, or need assistance?

You are encouraged to review the Frequently Asked Question document, specifically created for the CCP, here. In it you will find 50 common questions about the program. If you still need something clarified, please contact COBC for assistance at any time.


1.  Who should apply for PLAR?

You should apply for PLAR if you have graduated from a non-accredited institution-either national or international.  If you are an internationally trained optometrist or other eye health professional, the PLAR process may also be appropriate for you.

2.  Can I do the Competency Gap Analysis (CGA) from my home country?

No, to ensure the security of the CGA, candidates are required to write the assessment in COBC office.  You can however submit the documents required for the initial document assessment to begin the PLAR process from your home country.

3.  What are the steps involved in PLAR?

The PLAR candidate may be required to complete all 7 of the following steps:
Applicant applies for registration
Preliminary assessment of application
Assessment of applicant (CGA and In-person interview)
COBC assesses information
Additional education
Examination
Proceed to COBC registration
For more information please visit the 'Becoming an Optician' page or contact COBC.

4.  How long does the PLAR process take?

The PLAR process generally takes 3-6 months before receiving the Registration Committee's decision.  COBC strives to process every application in a timely and efficient manner.

If the Registration Committee determines that the applicant must complete additional education prior to registration, it will take longer for the applicant to be eligible to challenge the National Examination due to the length of time required to complete bridging module(s).


1. Why do I need to maintain my license? What does the College do for me?

COBC sets the framework for the professional self-regulated profession of opticianry to protect the public in British Columbia. This means that COBC establishes and supports the standards of care and acts when the standards are not being met. The public trusts that Licensed Opticians provide high quality, competent and professional care to help health care consumers achieve better vision. 

As a Licensed Optician, the public will be able to find you on the College's online registry; can trust that you adhere to COBC's Standards of Practice, Bylaws and Code of Ethics; and are accountable for your services. 

2. How do I renew?

You are required to renew your license online by logging into your profile through the COBC website. Click below to submit the necessary steps, and read the additional requirements:
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 on COBC's mailing list. You may login to your profile on our website to make changes to your personal information at any time.

3. When is my registration renewal deadline?

Registrants are required to submit their renewal form along with supporting documentation and payment by 11:59PM on March 31, each year. Registrants will normally receive their annual registration renewal notice by the end of February via email. 

4. My continuing education requirements (to complete the steps in the Continuing Competency Program, or CCP) are past due. Can I still renew my registration online?
 
If your online CCP requirements are due, they will need to be completed in order for you to proceed with the online renewal process. However, if you need to request an extension to complete your CCP requirements, please contact cdodge@cobc.ca to discuss.

5. 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 submit an application to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (MPSSG). Please note that a police or RCMP check is not an acceptable substitute. If you cannot complete the application you may need to contact the MPSSG office directly at 1-855-587-0185 ext. 2. 

If you are unsure whether your criminal record check is past due, please contact COBC at reception@cobc.ca. 

6. 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. 

7. Can my employer pay for my registration renewal fee amount?
 
Yes. When it is time to pay online, select the appropriate payment type. Your employer can pay for your renewal by selecting credit card, and entering their details at the time of payment. Your employer can also send COBC an e-transfer. 
  • Please 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.  
  • Send the e-transfer 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 payment. 

Please note COBC no longer accepts cheques.

8. 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 1-2 business days. COBC must receive your payment in order for your receipt to be uploaded to your online profile. 

9. Do I need professional liability insurance to renew? 

Yes. Please 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. 

10. Is it safe to put my private information and credit card number online? 

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. 

11. 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. 

12. 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 office if you live in the Lower Mainland area. 

Please note the COBC office is currently closed to the public and registrants due to COVID-19. 

13. 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.


1. 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 COBC means that you have invested in extensive education and training to work as a professional in your field. It recognizes 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 recognize the risks to the public that exists without regulation. 

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

If you are not registered with 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 (HPA), 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 competency 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. 

3. What is COBC  going to 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. 

4. 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. 
 
5. 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 organization 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 take a look at the current year if you have any further questions. 

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