Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - Registration and how to apply
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Registration and how to apply

Topics on this page include:

  • Registration 
  • Applications 
  • Fees 
  • Qualifications 
  • Non-practising registration

Anyone working under the title of occupational therapist (OT) must be registered with AHPRA from 1 July 2012. To be entitled to practise as an OT in any state or territory in Australia from 1 July 2012 you must be registered with the OT Board of Australia (the National Board). The title occupational therapist is protected under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (the National Law), as in force in each state and territory for use by persons that hold national registration as an OT. If a person does not hold registration and uses this title, they risk being in breach of the National Law and the Board may take action.

Yes, applicants who applied before 30 September 2012 are still covered by the transitional enforcement policy. AHPRA will not take any action against you for practising provided you comply with all notices. If you are refused registration you must cease to practice.

No. You may not practise until a decision has been made on your application for registration and you have been advised that registration has been granted.

Not necessarily. You need to register if you call yourself an OT and/or are working as an OT. If you are not sure about this, you can check the definition of practice below, check with your manager and/or contact AHPRA for advice via the contact details provided at the end of this document.

The Board’s definition of practice is: Any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in their profession. Practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles, and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the profession.

No. You must apply for registration in Australia and meet the Australian requirements.

A person who is not working directly with clients (e.g. presenting a conference paper or workshop with no hands-on demonstrations) can use the title if they make it clear they are not registered in Australia. (e.g. ‘I am an occupational therapist registered in the United Kingdom but not in Australia’ or ‘I trained as an occupational therapist in the United States but am not registered in Australia’).

The application fee is $280. The annual registration fee is $280.

An application fee is a one-off fee, to cover administrative costs, including activities such as criminal history checks associated with processing a new application.

A registration fee is an annual fee that provides you with registration for your profession for that year.

For practitioners with a principal place of practice in NSW a component of the registration fee is determined by NSW and may be subject to change.

Please note that if you are required to apply for an international history check from an approved supplier, you will be responsible for the cost of the check. For more information, please refer to the International criminal history page on the AHPRA website.

Fees are tax deductible and GST free.

There are significant resources involved in processing applications. The fee principally covers the costs of processing the application.

Board fees reflect the requirements of building and maintaining an effective regulatory system that protects the public and guides the profession. Importantly, there is no cross-subsidisation in the National Scheme so registration fees paid by OTs fund only the regulation of occupational therapy. The fees cover the costs including:

  • managing registration, notification and customer service processes
  • development and ongoing review of registration standards
  • development and maintenance of National Board policies
  • legal fees and costs of tribunals for management of notifications
  • implementation of occupational therapy regulation in the National Scheme.

In setting fees, the Board has considered the resources necessary to implement a single national regulatory system and the need for prudent financial management to ensure the Board meets its obligations effectively under the National Law.

No. The registration fee is an annual fee and not a fee for service. Everyone must pay the full fee every year. Fees are tax deductible and GST free.

Yes. Belonging to a professional association is something you do voluntarily. It is not something you have to do. Being registered is a legal requirement under National Law if you want to use the title ‘occupational therapist’ or practice as an OT in either a paid or voluntary capacity.

The Board has a non-practising registration category, which has a reduced fee compared to general registration. A person who holds non-practising registration is exempt from some registration standards. However, in order to undertake any professional practice, you must apply to return to the general registration category.

OTs with non-practising registration cannot undertake any clinical practice but they can use the protected title. They are not permitted to treat or refer, regardless of whether they are being remunerated.

There is a reduced fee for non-practising registration. This type of registration may be suitable for practitioners who:

  • have retired
  • are temporarily not practising (for example on maternity or extended sick leave) or
  • who are not practising in Australia but are practising overseas.

No. You must renew your registration and pay the registration renewal fee every year. You will also be required to complete and submit an annual renewal form declaring that you meet the Board’s registration standards (i.e. continuing professional development, criminal history, professional indemnity insurance arrangements, recency of practice and English language requirements).

Yes, you can reapply for registration at a later date and this will require you to complete a new application and provide evidence that you meet all the Board’s registration standards as if applying for the first time. However, you cannot practise while unregistered.

The Board’s recency of practice registration standard outlines the scope, requirements and possible exemptions for practitioners who have been absent from practice.

Under the National Law, the Board may decide that an individual is not a suitable person to hold general registration as an OT because they have not practised the profession for the length of time which the Board considers to be sufficient. More information of the requirements in relation to recency of practice can be found in the Board’s recency of practice registration standard and the Board’s recency of practice guidelines. The recency of practice standard also outlines what a person will be required to do to return to practice after a break of more than five years.

When a practitioner renews their registration, they must also make a declaration that they have met the recency of practice requirements set by the Board.

A list of approved programs and courses leading to the qualifications necessary to register as an OT is available on this website.

It is important to note that you must also meet all the Board’s requirements for suitability as a person. Suitability takes into consideration:

  • any impairment that would detrimentally affect your capacity to practice
  • criminal history (including criminal history outside of Australia)
  • any un-finalised legal proceedings
  • English language competence
  • any current suspension or cancellation of registration in any jurisdiction
  • recency of practice
  • whether you can demonstrate the required amount of continuing professional development
  • whether you have professional indemnity insurance
  • whether you are a fit and proper person
  • whether you are able to practise competently and safely and
  • any other prescribed requirements.

New applicants for registration must provide sufficient evidence of their identity. Details are included in the application form.

You can phone AHPRA and talk to one of the customer service team members.

From within Australia call 1300 419 495 between 9:00am – 5:00pm Local Time and from overseas phone +61 3 8708 9001 between 9:00am – 5:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Daylight Saving Time.

Enquiries may also be submitted via email.

It depends on your particular situation and circumstances and what has happened since. Each case will be considered individually. The Board expects applicants to be honest about their past—a failure to report previous action taken will be considered serious, even if the underlying conduct was not so serious.

You are not required to be registered if you are not working in Australia but if you want to register prior to departure, then you will be required to pay the registration fee and meet the Board’s registration standards. These standards will also apply on renewal.

No, not necessarily. The Board is not involved in determining who has access to Medicare; this is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. The Board is only concerned with issues to do with registration and accreditation.

All registered OTs who hold general registration will be required to participate regularly in continuing professional development (CPD) activities and to maintain records of their CPD activities from 1 July 2012.

The Board recognises that not all OTs have previously been subject to CPD requirements. When making an initial application for registration, applicants will be required to give an undertaking to meet the CPD requirements during the period of registration. There will be no requirement to have completed 30 hours of CPD prior to initial application for registration. However, applicants who do not meet the recency of practice requirements for general registration may be required to undertake additional CPD.

OTs will have 17 months from 1 July 2012 until 30 November 2013 to meet the initial requirement of 30 hours of CPD. Then, from the 1 December 2013 all registered OTs will need to comply with this standard every registration year.

To assist practitioners in understanding this registration standard the Board has also developed CPD Guidelines, both are available at the Board’s website.

Copies of the National Law can be downloaded from the AHPRA website.

No, it is not necessary to include your registration number, because ‘occupational therapist’ is a protected title – if you use this title you must be registered to practice.

It is important to consider the following: is the basis for using your title, qualification, or other words or letters, relevant to your area of health practice? Is it current, verifiable and credible? If you display or promote your qualifications in advertising materials or in your occupation, are they easy to understand? A risk is people misunderstanding or misinterpreting the abbreviations you use. One option would be to simply state your occupation as occupational therapist. Another could be to sign off in one of two ways:

  • (name), occupational therapist 
  • (name), BHSc (OT), occupational therapist.

Under the National Scheme, you have to be registered to use the title ‘occupational therapist’. If you are practising, even in a voluntary capacity, you need general registration. It is important to note that professional indemnity insurance must be in place for all practice undertaken – including voluntary practice.


Non-practising registration

There is no restriction on this. However, at any time in the future when you wish to return to practice, the Board’s recency of practice standard will apply. If you do not meet this standard, then you will need to successfully meet the Board’s requirements before being eligible for general registration.

Yes, you can fill out the non-practising registration form on the Board’s website and submit it to AHPRA.

Non-practising registration is relevant to someone who is not employed in an occupational therapy-related role and is not therefore using the title ‘occupational therapist’ in their occupation. However, the Board’s definition of ‘practice’ is broad and includes management roles. To hold non-practising registration you should not engage in any activities that can satisfy the Board’s definition of ‘practice’. Refer to the definition of occupational therapy practice for further information, found on the non-practising registration form. Where your employment activities are likely to fall within the Board’s definition of ‘practice’ you should not hold non-practising registration.

No, you would only need to provide all of the original documents if you let your registration lapse. Switching to non-practising registration temporarily is a good idea if you are planning a break from practice, as the process to shift back to general registration is more straightforward.

Page reviewed 28/11/2019