What is ECA Canada? How to Validate Your Qualifications in Canada

September 1, 2023


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Canada is a prime destination for many international students looking to capitalize on the opportunity to study overseas. With its top-ranked institutions, multicultural student body, and many innovative research and development programs, it's easy to see why the North American nation has become highly sought after by people looking for a quality educational experience overseas.

Ready to leap into the next phase of your life by immigrating to Canada? Discover what is ECA Canada and the process for how to validate your qualifications in Canada!

What is ECA Canada?

An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) Canada is a document that evaluates and verifies foreign educational qualifications, such as a degree, diploma, or certificate, for individuals who wish to study, work, or immigrate to Canada.

An ECA will evaluate your level of education, field of study, and the authenticity of your educational qualification documents. It is important to note that ECA evaluations are not required for qualifications obtained in Canada or for professional designations obtained outside Canada.

The ECA evaluation assesses a wide range of educational credentials, including:

  • Degrees
  • Diplomas
  • Certificates
  • Other qualifications obtained from foreign institutions

This includes both completed and incomplete programs of study.

The Canadian government issues different ECAs.

General Purpose ECA

The general purpose ECA is for people want to study, work andcget licensed professionally in Canada. Applicants must demonstrate that their foreign educational qualfications are equivalent to Canadian standards in order to receive a positive general purpose ECA.

Immigration Purpose ECA

The immigration purpose ECA is for people who want to immigrate to Canada via Express Entry system, Provincial Nominee Program or Immigration pilot. Immigration purpose ECA reports have unique immigration client reference numbers, are valid for five years if used for immigration programs and can be renewed upon expiration.

Please Note:

Your ECA report may assist you in your job search. Still, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive a job in your chosen field or receive a license to practice in a regulated profession

If you want to work in a regulated job, ensure you receive your license in the province or territory you plan to settle in.

When is an ECA Evaluation Required?

Various foreign immigration scenarios require an ECA evaluation. The scenarios can be outlined as:

Validate the Equivalence of Your Foreign Qualifications to Canadian Standards

If you plan on pursuing higher education in Canada, you must submit an ECA report to Canadian Designated Learning Institutions to demonstrate the validity and standard of your foreign qualifications.

Applying for a Work Permit

If you are applying for a work permit for a regulated Canadian occupation, you may need an ECA report to prove that your qualifications meet Canadian standards.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which allows Canadian provinces or territories, to attract and retain eligible foreign immigrants who meet the labor market needs of that province or territory, has skilled worker immigration streams that require an ECA report.

If you’re a caregiving worker and plan to use the Homecare Provider Pilot, you will need to obtain an immigration purpose ECA report.

Claim CRS Score Points for Express Entry Application

If you are applying for immigration through the Express Entry system, an ECA report is mandatory to claim Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points for your foreign education, adding to your chances of being drawn from your Express Entry pool and receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Who Can Do Your ECA?

You need to choose one of the designated organizations approved by the Canadian government To get your ECA done. These recognized accreditation organizations are responsible for assessing and verifying your educational credentials.

Recognized organizations for ECA evaluations include:

Please Note:

Each organization has its own application process, fees, and evaluation criteria. Hence, it's important to research and choose the organization that best suits your needs.

How to Get an ECA Canada

Follow the steps outlined below to validate your qualifications and receive an ECA report.

Step 1: Find an Approved Canadian Designated Organisation

The first step towards validating your qualifications in Canada is to find an Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)-designated organization to process the ECA.

Ensure you choose a designated organization that is recognized and trusted by the Canadian government to ensure the credibility of your assessment.

Several designated organizations in Canada offer ECA services, such as:

  • World Education Services (WES)
  • International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)
  • Comparative Education Service (CES)
  • International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
  • International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) – British Columbia Institute of Technology

Each organization has its requirements and evaluation criteria, so it is important to research and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Step 2: Gather And Submit the Required Documentation

Once you have selected a designated organization, you must gather and submit your educational qualification documents for evaluation. The required documents typically include your:

  • Academic transcripts
  • Degree certificates
  • Diplomas
  • Other relevant educational documents

It is important to ensure that these documents are authentic and in the original, legally recognized language of your country of origin.

In addition to the educational documents, you must provide a copy of your passport, proof of identity, and any other supporting documents the designated organization may require. Carefully review the organization’s document checklist to ensure that you have included all required paperwork.

Step 3: Receive Your ECA

Once you have submitted your documentation, the designated organization will evaluate your educational qualifications and provide you with an ECA report. An ECA report is a legal record of the equivalency of your foreign educational qualifications to Canadian standards. It will also indicate the level of your education in terms of the Canadian education system, such as a certificate diploma, bachelor's or master's degree, and Ph.D.

The ECA report is essential to your application for various Canada immigration visa programs. For example, if you apply through the Express Entry system, the ECA report will determine the number of CRS points you can claim for your foreign education. It is also required if you are applying for a Study Permit to study in a designated learning institution in Canada.


What is the Cost of an Educational Credential Assessment?

Each designated organization sets its own cost for an ECA.

For most foreign immigrants, the cost of applying for an ECA is about 200 CAD plus the delivery cost. Delivery costs depend on your preferred delivery method, with courier delivery being the most expensive option.

Please Note

The fees for an ECA report and the length of time to get one vary and can change without notice. For example, the cost of applying for an ECA report will be higher for certain categories of immigrants like families, specialist physicians, or pharmacists. In this case, we recommend you contact the organization to determine how much your ECA will cost.

Can I Use an ECA for Multiple Applications?

Yes, you can use an ECA for multiple applications. Once you have received your ECA report, it is valid for a certain period, typically five years. You can use the same ECA report for multiple applications, such as study permits, work permits, and immigration programs, provided it remains valid.

How Long Does it Take to Receive an ECA?

The processing time for an ECA varies depending on the designated organization you choose. However, receiving your ECA report generally takes four to six weeks.

Please Note

Some organizations offer expedited services for an additional fee, which can shorten the processing time to as little as two weeks. It is advisable to check the processing times of different organizations and choose the one that suits the needs of your timeline the most.