Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs) For International Students in Canada

Taking the leap to study in Canada is a dream shared by countless international students worldwide. However, many newcomer students to Canada may also feel overwhelmed by the processes of getting credential validation and recognition for their required supporting documents.

This is where a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) comes into play as a vital tool in streamlining and limiting the administrative application hurdles international students must overcome to study in Canada.

The following will guide you through the significance of PAL for international students, unpacking its role in ensuring your seamless transition from your country’s to Canada’s educational institutions.

What is a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)

What is a provincial attestation letter

Provincial attestation letters serve as official documentation issued by provincial authorities, verifying the authenticity of various documents and certificates submitted by individuals for immigration, education, employment, or other purposes. These letters are crucial for international students, immigrants, and professionals seeking to validate their qualifications or credentials in a new province.

They confirm that the provided documents meet the standards set by the provincial government and are genuine representations of the individual's academic or professional achievements. Additionally, provincial attestation letters often play a vital role in:

Whether it's confirming educational degrees, professional licenses, or other credentials, provincial attestation letters offer peace of mind and credibility in your various personal and professional pursuits in Canada.

Who Needs to Apply For a PAL?

There are primarily two categories of international students who must apply for a PAL in order to study in Canada. They are:

If you’re a Canadian student permit applicant who falls into one of the following categories, then you don’t need to apply for a PAL.

  • You applied to study in Canada’s basic education system (preschool, primary and secondary school)
  • You applied for entry into a master’s or doctoral postgraduate program
  • You applied for a PAL before 08:30 am ET on January 22, 2024
  • Have entered Canada already under one of the following situations

Furthermore, you do not have to apply for a PAL if you are a family member of a foreign national who lives in Canada and is a/an:

  • Study permit, work permit, or temporary resident permit holder valid for at least 6 months
  • Member of foreign armed forces in Canada under the Visiting Forces Act
  • Foreign government representative (accredited)
  • Certain sports or events participant
  • Work in Canada for a foreign news company
  • Religious worker
  • Protected person
  • Eligible person for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
  • Eligible person for permanent residence based on current public policy
  • Eligible person for permanent residence as a spouse or common-law partner (via the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class)

How Can I Be Eligible to Apply for a PAL?

How Can I Eligible For a PAL?

For international students in Canada, eligibility to apply for a provincial attestation letter depends on several factors. This includes the following.

  • You must have completed an academic program and obtained a degree, diploma, or certificate from a recognized DLI within the province you’re applying for a PAL
  • Your academic credentials meet the standards set by the provincial regulatory bodies or DLIs for attestation by applying for an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
  • International students must have legal status in Canada, such as a valid study permit or work permit, during the application process for a PAL
  • You familiarize yourself and meet the provincial or territorial eligibility requirements for international students seeking attestation, such as language proficiency tests or additional documentation
  • You must be able to pay any associated fees for the attestation process, which can vary depending on the province and the type of documents being attested.

How Can I Apply For a PAL?

The following provides an outline for the general requirements and application steps to obtain a PAL in each province or territory.

The General PAL Application Process

Note that there is no direct application for a PAL. The DLI you plan to attend is responsible for requesting your PAL from the provincial government on your behalf. Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Apply to a Designated Learning Institution

Research and apply to DLIs across Canada, offering your desired study program or course.

Step 2: Receive A Letter of Acceptance (LOA)

Focus on meeting the DLI's admission requirements (academic transcripts, standardized test scores, etc.) to secure your Letter of Acceptance (LOA). This is a vitally important first step.

Step 3: Contact Your DLI

Once you receive your LOA, contact the DLI's admissions office to inquire about their PAL application process and deadlines.

Step 4: DLI Submit Your PAL Request

The DLI will submit a request for your PAL to the relevant provincial authority. They may require additional documents from you to support the request.

Step 5: Provincial Processing

The provincial government will process the request and issue a PAL directly to the DLI.

Step 6: DLI Includes PAL in Application

The DLI will include your PAL with your study permit application package submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

PAL Application in Each Province or Territory

The PAL application process for each province or territory in Canada can be outlined as follows.

Province or Territory in Canada PAL Application Process Date Implemented
Alberta Alberta adheres to the national guidelines as per information from the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education. Contact your chosen DLI in Alberta for specific instructions. PAL process in place March 1, 2024
British Columbia British Columbia follows the national process as per information from the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education. Consult the admissions office of your chosen DLI in British Columbia. PAL process in place March 4, 2024;
Manitoba Reach out to the admissions department of your DLI in Manitoba for specific details. PAL process in place March 4, 2024
New Brunswick Contact your chosen DLI in New Brunswick for their PAL application procedures. PAL process in place March 18, 2024
Newfoundland and Labrador Check with your chosen DLI in Newfoundland and Labrador for their PAL application guidelines. PAL process in place March 19, 2024
Nova Scotia Information on Nova Scotia's PAL process is still emerging. Stay updated by checking the websites of your chosen DLI and the Nova Scotia Department of Education. PAL process in place March 28, 2024
Ontario Contact the admissions office of your DLI in Ontario for specific instructions on their PAL application process. PAL process in place March 28, 2024
Prince Edward Island Monitor the website of your chosen DLI in Prince Edward Island and the provincial government website for updates and application instructions. PAL process in place March 27, 2024
Quebec Quebec requires an attestation of issuance of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ). Contact your chosen DLI to find out how to apply for the CAQ. Updated QAC process in place February 13, 2024.
Saskatchewan Consult your chosen Saskatchewan DLI for PAL application guidance. PAL process in place March;13, 2024
Other provinces or territories Information about implementing PALs in the remaining territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut) is still emerging. Monitor the provincial or territorial government and chosen DLI websites for updates. PAL process were expected March 31, 2024

Now that you’re better informed about what the Provincial Letter Attestation Letter is, you can begin the process of becoming an international student in Canada with the help of a College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) registered and accredited Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).



How Long Does Receiving a Provincial Attestation Letter for My Documents Take?

The timeframe for receiving a provincial attestation letter varies, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months, contingent on the specific processing times and requirements of the provincial authority overseeing the attestation process.

Are Provincial Attestation Letters Recognized Internationally, or Are They Only Valid Within Canada?

Provincial attestation letters are generally recognized internationally, particularly in countries where Canada has established agreements or mutual recognition arrangements regarding educational credentials; however, it's advisable to verify the specific requirements of the intended recipient or institution outside Canada.

Can I Submit Photocopies of my Documents For Attestation, or do I Need to Provide Original Copies?

While requirements may vary among provinces, original documents are typically required for attestation to ensure authenticity; submitting photocopies may not be accepted unless explicitly stated otherwise by the provincial authority handling the attestation process.

What Should I do if my Document is Rejected For Provincial Attestation?

If your document is rejected for provincial attestation, carefully go over the reasons provided by the authorities and address any issues or discrepancies accordingly, such as correcting errors, providing additional documentation, or seeking guidance from the provincial authority on steps to rectify the situation and resubmit your application.