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Serving the public interest by advancing client care and professional practice through evidence-based certification standards and the validation of knowledge essential for effective practice in occupational therapy.


Certified occupational therapy professionals providing effective evidence-based services across all areas of practice worldwide.

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The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT®)

12 South Summit Avenue
Suite 100
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
(301) 990-7979

Email NBCOT at

Business Hours
Monday-Thursday: 9 am – 5 pm, Lunch: 12 pm – 12:45 pm

Friday: 9 am – 4 pm, Lunch: 12 pm – 1 pm


OTR® & COTA® Credential Verification

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Early Determination

An individual who is considering entering, or who has already entered, an occupational therapy educational program can have his/her background reviewed prior to actually applying for the exam by requesting an Early Determination Review.  NBCOT uses a third party vendor to provide background checks on current and prospective occupational therapy students who are concerned that an issue in their background may prevent them from being eligible to sit for the certification exam.  A written explanation of any incidents in question is also required.  If an individual has been on parole or probation at any point within the last seven (7) years, he/she must also include official documentation confirming his/her compliance with or completion of all terms and conditions imposed by the court.  NBCOT may request additional information as needed on a case by case basis.

In this Early Determination Review process, NBCOT may give early or prior approval to take the certification exam, as it pertains to good moral character, provided that the information reviewed is not found to be a violation of any of the principles of the Practice Standards/Code of Conduct.

Current and prospective occupational therapy students should visit NBCOT's Character Review webpage to see what questions must be answered at the time of the exam application.  If a current or prospective student answers "Yes" to one or more character questions, that individual should then determine whether or not an Early Determination Review is the right option for them.

Each early review case is reviewed on an individual basis.  After NBCOT has completed its review, the individual is notified in writing regarding whether he/she will be eligible to sit for the NBCOT exam, provided that all eligibility requirements are met.

It is important to note that the NBCOT staff is only able to advise any individual regarding eligibility after all required information has been received and reviewed.  This means that individuals who contact NBCOT requesting a “Yes” or “No” response as to whether his/her background would be cause for disqualification must go through the background screening process and will receive written notification after the review is complete.

Please note, if an individual receives a favorable Early Determination Review, he/she will need to apply for the certification exam upon completion of all academic and fieldwork requirements.  When the individual applies for the exam, he/she will be expected to answer the character questions.  Individuals who receive a favorable Early Determination Review decision two or more years prior to applying for the certification exam and answer affirmatively to one or more of the character questions will undergo another background check as part of their exam application.

To request an Early Determination Review, complete and submit the Early Determination Review Payment Form.  

Early Determination Review Payment Form (PDF)