An Educational Credential Assessment evaluates your degree, diploma, or certificate earned outside of Canada to Canadian education standards.
Canada, Immigration

What is Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)?

Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Visa Journal

Educational credential assessment (ECA) is a mandatory requirement for those applying for Canadian immigration. It is a way to prove the non-Canadian education for the purpose of Canadian immigration.  This article will provide in depth guidance on Educational Credential Assessment for Canadian immigration.

What is Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)?

An educational credential assessment is an official equivalence of  a non-Canadian educational qualification (degree, diploma, certificate). It is used to establish, if the foreign education that a person has is valid(legitimate), and  the comparable level of that education to  Canadian educational standards.  Assessment bodies  issue various types of educational credential assessment. If that is the case then its ECA for Immigration that is required by applicants of Canadian permanents residence. Those interested in applying under Express Entry must obtain an ECA as a starting step.  Lets look at some more details on ECA.

Who needs an ECA?

It is needed by applicants of Canadian immigration. Those that have had their education completed outside of Canada will need ECA.

Which Canadian immigration programs require ECA?

It  is required for almost all such Canadian permanent residence programs,  which allocate points for applicant’s education. Some of the major streams of Canadian  immigration that require it are listed below

  • Express Entry
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
  • Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program
  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program
  • BC Provincial Nominee Program
  • Various PNP programs

Applicants of Express entry are only able to achieve Comprehensive Ranking System Score (CRS Points) for non-Canadian education once they have obtained an ECA. If an applicant has had Canadian education then ECA may not be needed for that qualification.

Where to get ECA from?

For the purpose of Canadian immigration you can only apply for an educational credential assessment from the following  credential assessment bodies as these  have been approved by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Applicants who are physicians (medical doctors) by profession need to obtain it from

Pharmacy professionals belonging to the specific NOC code of 3131 in most cases are required to obtain it from

How much does an ECA cost?

It may cost you around $200-240, excluding the courier fee for the original document to be delivered to you. Listed below is the eca cost that each of the IRCC approved organization charges.

ECA Approved OrganizationsApplication Fee (CAD$)
Comparative Education Service (CES) - by University of Toronto$210
International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)$200
International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES)$200
International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)$200
World Education Services (WES)$240

Some assessment bodies such as CES charge the above mentioned fee per credential evaluated. So always advisable to re-confirm exact fee being charged by the eca body. As this can have significant impact on the exact cost that one will pay for their Canadian ECA.

Apart from the fee charged by the ECA body for assessment the major cost is courier charge. Depending on where yo wish your ECA certificate to be couriered in the world it and how quick you want this delivery it can cost you and additional $ 20 – 80.  If one wishes to save cost of ECA processing, then look for a friend or family member in Canada. As the ECA can be couriered at their address, this will mean less cost on courier charge. For the purpose of immigration application one only needs to upload the pdf copy of ECA, and is uploaded in your online account as soon as ECA assessment gets finalized.

How long is ECA report valid for?

An educational credential assessment  issued for immigration purpose is considered valid for five (5) years from the the date of issuance.

When to get an ECA?

Please note that an educational credential assessment issued for immigration process is valid for five years, so you do not exactly have to worry about it expiring before going ahead with your immigration application. As it is needed for various Canadian Immigration programs, and in some cases, is demanded early in the immigration process. For instance, the Federal Skilled Worker Program demands you obtain it before making your Express Entry profile. Some permanent residence programs do not require an educational credential assessment, but can always help in boosting your points and your chances of being successful. Those applying for study in Canada are not required to obtain educational credential assessment for immigration.

ECA application process

The actual process of applying for an ECA varies. Each assessment body has its own requirements. There are some variations based on which country the education was completed in. In general, one is required to undertake following steps

  • Create an account with an ECA body designated by IRCC
  • Add personal and educational details
  • Upload scans of educational transcripts
  • Upload scan of  passport
  • Choose who to share your report with
  • Choose delivery method and number of copies to be issued
  • Make fee payment online using credit card
  • Request educational institution (university, college, etc.) to mail, email or digitally transmit copy of your educational transcripts to the ECA body.

Processing time for an ECA

Processing of an educational credential assessment can take between few weeks to several months. At present the average is between 1 – 4 months. Each of the above listed organizations have their own processing framework. This causes variation in processing time for  each of the these bodies. Other factors that can impact processing time are missing documents,  and delay in submission of official transcript by the issuing educational institution. In general WES is considered to have the quickest processing time. They mention that it takes around 35 working days for issuance of ECA by WES once all required documents are received at their end. In actual, WES usually competed the processing of ECA between 2-3 weeks.

CES – UofT currently has a processing time of about 15-20 weeks for most ECA applications. IQAS, ICAS, ICES are also taking between 12-16 weeks for processing of ECA.

What does an ECA certificate include

Each of the ECA issuing body has its own format when it comes to the actual document. But they all include the following details

  • Name of the applicant
  • Date of birth of the applicant
  • ECA reference number, which needs to be inserted in the Express Entry profile.
  • Canadian equivalency summary/outcome.
Sample WES ECA

How to read the ECA report

The assessment report clearly states the “Canadian education equivalency”. It is important to see what is mentioned in this section. The applicant may have completed a masters degree in their home country, but if this section of ECA report states that it is equal to a Canadian bachelors degree then the applicant will only be considered as a bachelor degree holder for immigration application.

There is a very useful online tool to see how each ECA outcome translates into CRS points. When using this tool pick “comprehensive ranking score” under the points system and click on see points.

Useful tips about ECA

Those applicants who hold a masters degree should only send thee masters for ECA assessment. This will give then maximum CRS while saving cost and time to obtain the assessment.

For those who hold dentistry and pharmacy they may get their ECA done by WES for professional degree. This will make them eligible for maximum CRS points and they can proceed with Express Entry creation as well. The licensing process may be done later when they arrive in Canada on PR.

Lawyers who are members of their local bar association can be assessed for CRS points equal to masters.


Frequently asked questions about ECA

When to obtain ECA: ECA must be obtained before express entry profile is created. Infact express entry profile cannot be created without having a valid ECA.

Is ECA needed for Canadian education: No, ECA is only needed for non-Canadian education. ECA is not required for Canadian experience class(CEC) category of applicants under the express entry.

Does spouse need ECA as well: Only the main applicant is required to have ECA when applying under Express entry. Spouse can add CRS points by obtaining it, but it is not mandatory for them.

Can multiple ECA be obtained: Yes, one can have ECA obtained from more than one designated bodies.

Do you need ECA for all degrees completed: No, it is needed for the highest qualification in most cases.

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