This pathway shows you how to apply for a Skills Assessment letter that you can use to register and work as a pharmacist in Australia.

This process applies if:

  • you completed an approved pharmacy qualification, or been through an approved adjudication process, in Canada, Ireland, the UK or the USA
  • you're currently registered in one of those countries

You'll need this letter to:

Overview

This pathway applies if you completed an approved* pharmacy qualification or adjudication process in either:

  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom (UK), OR
  • United States of America (USA)

*An approved qualification must be recognised by the pharmacy regulator in the country of qualification.

The qualification must also be the equivalent of either:

  • 4 years’ full-time academic study, if completed after 1 January 2006, OR
  • 3 years’ full-time academic study, if completed before 1 January 2006

Besides holding a completed degree, you must also:

  • be currently registered as a pharmacist in one of the countries listed above
  • hold certificates of good standing in all jurisdictions where you've been registered at any time in the past 10 years
  • hold a current senior (or equivalent) first aid certificate from an accredited course provider, either in Australia or one of the countries listed above

If any of the above points are not true for you, this process does not apply. See Skills assessments.

Skills Assessment structure

The process for requesting a Skills Assessment letter has two parts:

  1. passing the eligibility check
  2. passing the CAOP (Competency Assessment of Overseas Pharmacists) Examination
There is no expiry on the initial eligibility check.

Time frames

  • Processing time for the eligibility check: 8 weeks
  • Key dates for exams: see Exam dates and centres
  • Processing time for CAOP exam results: 4 weeks

If you leave out any documents or provide incorrect information when you apply, the eligibility check will take longer.

Cost

  • Eligibility check: AU$1290
  • Exam registration: AU$1870

Documents

This section describes what documents you will need at each step of the process.
 

When you apply for a Skills Assessment letter eligibility check, you need to include scans of your:

You do not need to:

  • have any documents certified
  • show proof of English competency

If you leave out any documents or provide incorrect information, the process will take longer than usual.

Proof of your identity

Provide the pages of your current passport showing your photo, personal details, and passport issue and expiry dates.

We cannot accept scans of an expired passport.

Academic qualifications

To apply using this process, you must have graduated with a degree in either Canada, Ireland, the UK or the USA. To show this, include scans of:

  • your degree certificate OR letter of completion if your degree has not yet been issued
  • your academic transcript, with all pages saved as 1 PDF file

If you completed your degree in another country but are now registered in either Canada, Ireland, the UK or the USA you will still need to include scans of:

  • your degree certificate/s
  • your academic transcript/s, with all pages saved as 1 PDF file
  • evidence of completing an approved adjudication process in Canada, Ireland, the UK or the USA
Please note: You are not eligible of the Competency Stream if you trained outside of the UK and registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council via the EU treaty / directive.

Registration status

You must be fully registered as a pharmacist in the country where you completed your degree. To show this, arrange for the registering authority to send us a scan of:

  • your Certificate of Current Professional Status or Letter of Good Standing from each professional body you have been registered with during the past 10 years.

Ask the registering authority to email these directly to us at assessments@pharmacycouncil.org.au 

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First aid certificate

You must hold a current, valid senior (or equivalent) first aid certificate for a entirely face-to-face course. The course must have included:

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • AED (automated external defibrillator)
  • burns
  • wounds
  • cuts

We accept first aid qualifications from:

  • St John Ambulance
  • Red Cross
  • American Heart Association
  • an approved first aid provider in Australia

Work history (optional)

You do not need to have worked as a pharmacist to apply for an eligibility check.

However, if you've selected the option for us to comment on your work history, we'll need to see evidence of your work experience.

We can only consider your work experience if you've worked:

  • as a retail or hospital pharmacist
  • for more than 20 hours per week

If this applies to you, and you want us to comment on your work history, also include scans of:

  • an up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV) that shows start and finish dates for all your jobs as a fully registered pharmacist
  • original work references using the Work Experience Reference template for all your jobs as a fully registered pharmacist, with all pages saved as 1 PDF file

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Show your correct name

Your name must appear the same way on all your scanned documents as it does on your passport.

Send us proof of any name change. Documents that prove a change of name include:

  • a marriage or divorce certificate
  • a deed poll
  • change of name documents from an Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, or the relevant authority outside Australia
  • documents that show other formal names you've been known by

Get translations

Have all non-English documents translated into English. An extract translation of the document/s will not be accepted.

You must use a translator who is accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

Include scans of the original non-English document and the original translated document in 1 file.

Create files

Scan all original documents (English and non-English) in colour. We will not accept scans of a copy, even if you get it certified. We also cannot accept scans of laminated documents.

The images must be clear enough for us to read the file, so scan them in high resolution. Include all edges, corners and images from the original document.

If a document has more than 1 page, save all pages in 1 file.

Name each file in English with a descriptive title, for example:

  • Marriage-certificate.png
  • Passport.pdf
  • Registration.jpg

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Registering for the exam

To register for the CAOP exam, you'll need to upload a scan of a recent, passport-sized photo. This photo must have been taken within the past 6 months.

The required dimensions of the photo are 35 to 40mm wide and 45 to 50mm high. The size of the face from chin to crown can be up to 36mm with a minimum of 32mm. If you usually cover your head for religious reasons, or you wear facial jewellery, your photo can include these items.

Special accommodation

If you have a disability or health-related needs, you may request extra support or an adjustment on the day of the exam. We call this type of support special accommodation.

Examples of special accommodation requests might include:

  • more time to complete the exam
  • being able to leave the exam room for breaks
  • more leg room at your exam desk if you're injured

You'll need to provide evidence to justify your request.

Asking for special accommodation

If you've asked for special accommodation, you'll need a scan of a medical certificate from a recognised healthcare worker. This certificate must include:

  • a date of issue that's no more than 12 months before the exam date
  • your name and date of birth
  • the recognised healthcare worker's name, profession and contact details
  • the specific help you're seeking on the day of the exam

For details on what we require when you apply, see our Special Accommodation Policy.

You'll need to show 2 forms of identification (ID) to enter the exam room and sit the exam.

For details on what we require as ID, see Exam dates and centres.

If you have an issue with any of your ID documents, email us on exams@pharmacycouncil.org.au now for advice.

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Process

This section describes what you will need to do at each step of the process.
 

Before you apply

Check that you're eligible to apply

You must:

  • have completed a pharmacy degree in Canada, Ireland, the UK or the USA
  • be currently registered as a pharmacist in the country where you completed your degree
  • hold certificates of good standing in all jurisdictions where you've been registered at any time in the last 10 years
  • hold a current Senior (or equivalent) First Aid Certificate from an accredited course provider, either in Australia or one of the countries above
  • now want to register as a pharmacist in Australia

If any of these conditions are not true for you, this pathway does not apply to you. See Skills Assessments page.

Gather your documents

You'll need to provide us with documents to:

  • show that you meet the eligibility criteria
  • support the claims you make in your application

You'll also need to ask your registering authority to send scans of your registration documents directly to us.

Get help with your application if you want to

Anyone can help you fill out forms or give you general help with your application.

But you may want us to correspond with another person, such as a migration agent or family member, instead of you.

If you want to nominate someone else to work with us, download and fill in our Agent Authorisation form. Both you and your nominated agent must sign it.

Please note that your nominated agent must use a different email address to yours.

You'll need to scan and upload the completed form in your application where it says 'If you use an agent'.

If you nominate someone else, we'll only talk to your authorised agent about your Skills Assessment letter.

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When you apply

Sign in to our Candidate Portal

Create an account in our Candidate Portal using your name and address.

In the portal, you will:

  • set up a candidate profile
  • request a Skills Assessment eligibility check
Upload your documents

Make sure you have all the correct documents, and that they're correctly prepared.

Pay the fee online

We can accept payment by credit or debit card. Your card must be issued by a bank in your country of residence.

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After you apply

We'll email you to let you know when we've received your application.

Wait to hear from us again

It will take us about 8 weeks to complete your eligibility check.

If you leave out any documents or send us incorrect information, it will take us longer.

Send us more information if we ask

We may email you to tell you we need more information.

If we ask for more information, you have 90 days to get this to us.

If we do not receive the correct information from you within 90 days, our system will close your application. If this happens, you'll need to re-apply and pay the fee again.

Receive your CAOP eligibility response

We'll tell you (or your agent) by email whether or not you can sit the CAOP exam.

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Before you register

Check that you're eligible to register

To register for the exam, you must have received confirmation from us that you're eligible to sit the exam.

Sign in to your Candidate Portal account

If you're a first-time user, create an account in our Candidate Portal.

If you're a returning user, sign in to your account with your username and password.

If you have trouble signing in...

If you created a Candidate Portal account earlier but cannot sign in now, email us at exams@pharmacycouncil.org.au. We'll help you to fix the issue.

Do not try to create another account with a different email address. Our system only allows you to have one account.

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When you register

Check the date of your exam

Go to the Exam dates and centres page to find out where and when the next exam will be.

Make any special accommodation requests

If you'd like to ask for special accommodation, you'll need to email your supporting documents to us on exams@pharmacycouncil.org.au for us to assess.

We'll review your documents. If we approve your request, we'll email you extra information before the exam date. If we decline it, we'll email you to let you know.

Register for the exam
  1. Once registrations open, sign in to our Candidate Portal.
  2. Use the drop-down menu at the top of the Candidate Portal to go to My Portal.
  3. Go to Section 2: 'Register and Complete the CAOP Examination’, then click on 'Book an exam'.
  4. Upload a recent, passport-sized photograph.
  5. Select your preferred exam centre, date and time.
  6. Click 'Proceed to checkout'.
  7. Confirm your details.
  8. Agree to our policies.
  9. Review the exam booking summary page.
  10. Submit your order.

Our exam provider, Pearson VUE, will email you to confirm that they've temporarily reserved a seat for you. Paying your fee in the next step will secure your seat.

Pay the registration fee

Paying the fee secures your seat at the exam.

  1. Agree to our policies again.
  2. Click on 'Return to APC website'.
  3. Click 'Pay now'.
  4. Pay the registration fee online.
  5. Click 'Confirm payment'.

Please note:

  • We can only accept payment through credit or debit cards.
  • Your credit card must be issued by a bank in your country of residence.

We'll email you a receipt for your payment after we process the order.

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After you register

Wait for your exam reminder

We'll send you a reminder email around 3 days before your exam.

Read this email carefully. It will include:

  • your appointment details
  • FAQs
  • identification requirements
  • the check-in process on exam day
  • policies and procedures
Prepare for the exam

We offer several resources that will help you prepare to sit the exam. These include:

2.4 When you sit the exam

Check what to take to the exam centre

To enter the exam room, you'll need your ID documents.

The CAOP exam is 'restricted open-book'.  This means you can bring with you:

The approved reference books include any edition:

  • Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH) – an evidence-based independent medicines reference book
  • Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary (APF) – an everyday guide to pharmacy practice
  • British National Formulary (BNF) – which includes treatment summaries for all drugs commonly prescribed in the UK

Your reference books must not contain any annotations, handwritten notes or loose additional notes.

However, you may highlight or flag parts of the text before the exam.

Pearson VUE will provide you with:

  • an online calculator
  • a whiteboard notebook
  • an erasable marker pen

However, at your exam desk, you cannot have:

  • a wristwatch
  • a mobile phone, tablet or any other electronic device
  • pens or pencils
Exam structure

The CAOP exam includes 70 multiple choice questions. Of these, 63 are scored questions, and 7 are unscored.

You'll have 2 hours to complete all 70 questions.

Exam content

The CAOP exam covers 5 content areas:

  • Develop a patient-centred, culturally-responsive approach to education management.
  • Implement the medication management strategy or plan.
  • Monitor and evaluate medication management.
  • Compound medicines.
  • Promote health and well-being.
Exam scoring

You must complete all 70 questions.

Learn more about what's in the exam in the CAOP Examination guide.

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Receive your results

We'll email you or your agent after your results are available. Expect this to be around 4 weeks after you sit the exam.

You'll be able to view and download your results certificate from the Candidate Portal.

If you do not see your results in the Candidate Portal, email us on exams@pharmacycouncil.org.au and provide your:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • 6-digit candidate reference number

The CAOP is a pass or fail exam. The pass standard for the exam is set at a level that demonstrates competency. This is based on the performance of candidates in prior sittings and analysis of results over previous years.

Each candidate receives a results certificate indicating the pass or fail outcome.

Learn more about results in the CAOP Guide.

If you pass ...

Once we release the results, we'll email you a copy of your Skills Assessment letter within 5 to 10 business days.

You'll need the letter and your results certificate to apply to register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

Your letter will be valid for our purposes for 3 years from the date we issue it.

If you fail ...

If you did not pass the CAOP exam, we’ll send you a breakdown of your results. We’ll also tell you which areas you need to improve on.

In this case, you can register to sit the exam again during the next exam period. You may only sit the CAOP exam 2 times. If you fail it a second time, you'll need go through the Knowledge Stream process instead to receive your Skills Assessment letter.

If you are unhappy with an APC decision, please see our Appeals policy.

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Next steps

Once you have a Skills Assessment letter from us, you can use it to:

The Department of Home Affairs sets the validity period for your Skills Assessment letter for visa applications. Contact them to check how long it will be valid.

If something significant changes after we issue your Skills Assessment letter, you can ask us for an updated Skills Assessment.

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