registrationIf you wish to work as a dental hygienist in Nova Scotia, you must be registered and licensed with the College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia (CDHNS). Registration and licensing with the CDHNS assures the public and employers that an individual has met the academic and other requirements to practice in the profession. 

If you are a graduate of a dental hygiene program, or are about to graduate from a dental hygiene program, and would like to apply to practice in Nova Scotia, please go to the Registration Forms and Payments page. Review the information and then select the application for registration link to start the application process. 

Practising dental hygiene in Nova Scotia without being registered with the CDHNS, and without holding a Practising Licence, is a punishable offence under the Dental Hygienists Act

General Registration/Licensing Requirements

Below is a brief description of the registration/licensing requirements.  If you still have further questions, contact the CDHNS office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Submit a complete application form, including payment of applicable fees and submission of required documents
  • Meet the Educational Requirements
    • Applicants require a diploma or degree in dental hygiene from an accredited dental hygiene in Canada (or equivalent).
    • Applicants who obtained their dental hygiene education from a non-accredited dental hygiene program, must meet the additional requirements outlined in the section below entitled Graduates of Non-Accredited Programs.    
  • Successfully Complete the Canadian National Dental Hygiene Certification Board Examination
    Applicants for registration are required to provide evidence of successful completion of the NDHCB examination. (See below for further information.)
  • Have 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;
    • Provide evidence of practice as a dental hygienist within the 3 years immediately preceding the date of the application for registration is received; 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. 
  • Complete the 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 Course, since it is mandatory that all dental hygienists must be authorized to self-initiate within two years of initial licensure [Regulations 8 (1) (h)].
      • Alternatively, applicants may provide evidence that they have the equivalent education/experience to that provided by the self-initiation module, as determined by the Registrar. [Regulations 8(1) (h) (ii)
    • Both are offered as an online course 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.
  • Interview: Applicants are required to meet with the Registrar. This is the last step in the application process. These are not booked until the rest of the registration process is complete. Once an application is complete, the CDHNS will contact the applicant directly to schedule this interview.
    • The purpose of this structured interview is to ensure that newly licencing registrants understand their professional obligations regarding the practice of dental hygiene in Nova Scotia, including obligations under the Act and Regulations. This 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, registrants are able to ask questions and obtain clarity on any area of the legislation or elements of dental hygiene practice that may be unclear.

Additional requirements include, evidence of:

  • Good Standing in any previous jurisdiction (complete the form provided by CDHNS). You must 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. 
  • Good Character
  • CPR Certification, 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.
  • English language proficiency necessary for safe and competent practice. The current English language requirements.
  • Being a Canadian citizen or legally allowed to work in Canada
  • CDHA Membership/Professional Liability Insurance

Registration of dental hygienists – Mutual Recognition Agreement Transfers (Section 4 of the Dental Hygienists Regulations)

“A person who is licensed to practise as a dental hygienist under a non-restricted license issued before July 1, 2001, in a jurisdiction that is a signatory to the Mutual Recognition Agreement is eligible to be registered in the Register upon compliance with clause 3(c) and Section 5.”

An applicant who is currently registered/licensed in the 'Practising' category or equivalent without restrictions, and in good standing, in another Canadian jurisdiction may find it easier to become registered/licensed as a dental hygienist in Nova Scotia.

There are some provinces and territories where there are significant variations in occupational standards between Nova Scotia and those jurisdictions. In these cases, a legitimate objective has been posted by the Nova Scotia Government under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). Applicants from these jurisdictions may be subject to additional requirements prior to being eligible for registration or licensing in Nova Scotia. For an up-to-date listing of the jurisdiction(s) and the legitimate objective(s), please refer to:

Graduates of Non Accredited Programs

The basic qualification for licensure to practice dental hygiene in Nova Scotia is graduation from a dental hygiene program which has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada or the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation.

  • 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.
    • This can include acquiring a Certificate of Clinical Competency as defined by the Council (e.g., completion of the Canadian National Performance Based Exam in Dental Hygiene). Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. directly for further information.   

Are you an internationally educated dental hygienist from a non-accredited program?  Review the Pathway to Licensure for Internationally Educated Dental Hygienists.


The NDHCB examination tests whether an applicant possesses the necessary knowledge, skills, attitude and judgment required for entry-level practice. The NDHCB Candidate Guide provides information on the exam objectives, eligibility criteria, application procedures (including special accommodations for testing), development process, format, content, security measures, scoring and exam review application process. The Candidate Guide is available on the NDHCB website
The 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 NDHCB website. 

Important: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many writing centres are closed, or open with significantly reduced capacity. The October 2020, January 2021 and May 2021 NDHCB examination sittings were administered using virtual proctoring. The NDHCB will make a decision about how future examination offerings will be administered at a later date. This decision will be posted on the NDHCB's website.


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