The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) licensing process includes a thorough assessment of the application submission and, if the licence is being renewed, a verification of the licensee’s compliance performance. All licence applications are assessed based on the risk-ranking of the proposed licensed use type. Read about the licensing and compliance tools that the CNSC uses.
A licence application goes through the following steps within the CNSC:
- entry into our electronic records system
- assessment for relevant cost-recovery fees, if applicable
- entry into our licensing database
- technical assessment by a licensing specialist
- quality assurance
- sign-off by a designated officer (if the application and the applicant meet all regulatory requirements)
- licence issued and mailed/faxed to licensee
New licence application
In order to obtain a nuclear substances and radiation devices licence, an application must be submitted to the CNSC. The CNSC will only issue a licence when the applicant:
- is deemed qualified to carry on the activity that the licence will authorize
- has demonstrated that they will protect the health and safety of persons and the environment
- has demonstrated that they will maintain national security
- has confirmed that they will adhere to international obligations to which Canada has agreed.
To apply for a licence, please consult REGDOC-1.6.1, Licence Application Guide: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, version 2 (REGDOC-1.6.1, version 2 HTML) (REGDOC-1.6.1, version 2 PDF), and fill out the corresponding licence application form for nuclear substances and radiation devices, revision date 2017-05 (PDF).
To view the costs associated with the licensing process, please refer to the CNSC’s cost recovery program.
If the application received by the CNSC is complete, processing time could take up to 80 business days. Applicants will be contacted by the CNSC during the licence application review process and once a licence is issued.
All licensees are responsible for safely carrying out the nuclear activities authorized under their licences, from the issuance of the licence up to and including safe termination of the licensed activities. A financial guarantee ensures there are funds available for the safe termination of licensed activities when the licensee is unable to carry this out. Licensees are required to provide a financial guarantee to the CNSC.
Existing licensees follow the same process as new applicants when applying for licence renewals. The decision by the CNSC to renew a licence is based on the application information submitted as well as a satisfactory compliance performance. The CNSC conducts a review of compliance information, such as a licensee’s previous assessments, reported incidents and events, annual compliance report (ACR) submissions, Type I inspections and Type II inspections results. Read more about the licensing and compliance tools that the CNSC uses.
If the application received by the CNSC is complete, processing time could take up to four weeks for a licence renewal. Applicants will be contacted by the CNSC during the licence renewal review process and once a licence is issued.
PLEASE NOTE: CNSC licences issued for nuclear substances and radiation devices cannot have their term extended. The licence will expire on the date stated in the licence unless renewed, revoked or replaced.
Fill out a nuclear substance and radiation device licence application form, revision date 2017-05 (PDF)
Under certain circumstances – as per the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), sections 24(2) and 24(4) – the CNSC may authorize the transfer of a licence from one licensee to another, or to a new licence applicant, provided there has been no significant change in the licensed activity. This process is intended to simplify the regulatory process for licensees, while ensuring that all regulatory requirements are met.
A request for licence transfer can be triggered by the following changes:
- change to a corporation’s name and number
- corporate merger
- corporate restructuring
To request a licence transfer, the existing licensee must complete and submit an application form to their CNSC licensing officer including the following:
- a copy of the new proof of legal status
- the appropriate applicant authority form, including required photo identification
- the request to appoint a new radiation safety officer (RSO) form, with associated information, if there has been a change in RSO or applicant authority
Fill out a nuclear substance and radiation device licence transfer form, revision date 2018-10 (PDF).
Submitting an application
Before submitting a licence application to the CNSC, you must ensure:
- the application form is complete and signed in all required locations as well as the relevant application Authority form
- all supporting documents are attached, clearly identified and cross-referenced
- a copy of the radiation safety manual (RSM) is included
- proof of legal status is included if the applicant is a corporation
- the designated payment is enclosed if subject to the CNSC Cost Recovery Fees Regulations
Submit by mail:
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
280 Slater Street
P.O. Box 1046, Station B
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5S9
Submit by fax: 613-995-5086
PLEASE NOTE: The applicant authority form contains protected personal information and must be submitted by regular mail or by courier. Do not send the applicant authority form and proof of identification by e-mail.
Licence amendment requests
During the licence period, certain circumstances may require changes to the licence, and a request for amendment must be submitted. An amendment is a modification to an existing licence in order to change certain information. You are required to request an amendment if there is any change in your current regulatory program information, equipment or licensed activities.
When requesting an amendment to an existing nuclear substances and radiation devices licence, the following details must be submitted along with the licence number:
- changes to nuclear substances and/or radiation devices
- changes to the location of use and/or storage
- changes to personnel (licence contact information i.e., RSO applicant authority, alternative RSO, etc.)
- changes to policies, programs and procedures
In order to process a change in corporate name, a copy of a legal document showing the change, such as certificate of amendment, certificate of amalgamation or certificate of incorporation must be submitted to the CNSC with the licence amendment.
For changes to applicant authorities, the CNSC must be notified within 15 days in accordance with section 15 of the General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations. Please fill out one of the following forms:
- REGDOC-1.6.1 Applicant Authority Form for a Sole Proprietorship, revision date 2017-05 (PDF)
- REGDOC-1.6.1 Applicant Authority Form for a Public Institution, revision date 2017-05 (PDF)
- REGDOC-1.6.1 Applicant Authority Form for an Incorporated Company, revision date 2017-05 (PDF)
PLEASE NOTE: The Applicant Authority form contains protected personal information and must be submitted by regular mail or by courier. Do not send the Applicant Authority form and proof of identification by e-mail.
The CNSC must also be notified of changes made to radiation safety officers. Please fill out a radiation safety officer appointment form (PDF).
All requests for licence amendments must be made in writing by the licensee’s designated signing authority. This can be done by fax (613-995-5086) or by contacting a CNSC licensing specialist at 1-888-229-2672.
Processing an amendment to a licence could take up to three weeks from the date a completed submission is received.
Revoking a licence
In order to revoke a licence, proof of decommissioning of the site or building must be submitted to the CNSC staff before the site or building can be released from regulatory control. The licensee must ensure that all nuclear substances and radiation devices have been removed, and that the contamination levels of the site or building do not exceed the limits specified on the licence. Licensees must submit documentation showing that any nuclear substances and radiation devices formerly in their possession have been received by another licensee who is authorized to possess these materials.
In order for an existing CNSC licence to be revoked, a licensee must submit a request for revocation (PDF). Once the CNSC determines the information is complete, the licence will be revoked and a letter confirming the revocation will be sent to the licensee.
See the CNSC’s decommissioning checklist (PDF) to ensure you are following the right steps.
CNSC licensing and compliance tools
CNSC’s Risk Informed Regulatory Program specifies that activities with the greatest risk profile will receive the greatest regulatory oversight. The following tools allow the CNSC to monitor and verify compliance with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), its regulations and the licence conditions:
Application assessment (desktop reviews)
The CNSC reviews all information provided in the application to ensure compliance with the NSCA and the regulations.This stage includes the review of a new licence application, an amendment request or a renewal application.
- Annual compliance report (ACR)
Licensees are required to submit annual reports of the activities they performed. Examples of items to report in the ACR include:
- transfers, purchase, disposal of nuclear substances and radiation devices
- dosimetry information
- changes in the radiation protection program
Annual compliance reports allow licensees to self-report, and allow the CNSC to monitor routine compliance indicators. ACR forms for your usetype can be downloaded for submission.
- Type I inspections
Type I inspections (also known as audit) are in-depth examinations of a licensee’s processes and operations and typically occur at the licensee’s operational site(s). Compliance verification is done through direct observations of work activities, a comprehensive review of procedures and records, and staff interviews. This type of inspection will include the participation of several CNSC staff members, who may be onsite for a period of several days. At the end of the inspection, the licensee is presented with the preliminary findings, and a complete report is sent to the licensee within 60 days of the inspection. The licensee is given a list of non-compliances found, and must provide timelines for addressing these findings. Should something be found during the inspection that is an imminent threat to health, safety or the environment, the NSCA provides inspectors with the power to immediately order cessation of these activities.
- Type II inspections
A Type II inspection is an onsite snapshot of the licensee’s operations. These inspections are typically shorter than Type I, since extensive interviews are not performed, and data is collected mainly through direct observations, measurements and reviews of onsite records. At the end of the inspection, the licensee is presented with a preliminary report, and a complete report is sent to the licensee within 40 days of the inspection. The licensee is given a list of non-compliances found and must provide timelines for addressing these findings. Should something be found during the inspection that is an imminent threat to health, safety or the environment, the NSCA provides inspectors with the power to immediately order cessation of these activities.
For licensees:If you have any questions relating to licensing issues, such as licence amendments, annual compliance reporting or disposal of nuclear substances and radiation devices, contact your licensing specialist at 1-888-229-2672. You can also send an email.
If you are not a current CNSC licensee, contact the CNSC general information line at 1-800-668-5284. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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