Licensing: Nuclear substances and radiation devices
In Canada, the possession and use of nuclear substances and radiation devices are regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in accordance with the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), its associated regulations and CNSC licences. Nuclear substances and radiation devices account for about 2,500 of the CNSC licences and are widely used in medicine, research and teaching, with the majority issued for a variety of industrial applications.
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- Nuclear substances
- Radiation devices
- Sealed sources
- Import/export of nuclear substances and radiation devices
- Exempted activities
- Use types
- Reporting an emergency
- Frequently asked questions
- Additional documentation and information
- Service providers
- Mentorship Program
- Contact us
The possession, use, transfer, import, export, abandonment and storage of nuclear substances must be licensed by the CNSC when the amount of nuclear substance involved is greater than its exemption quantity. See Schedule 1 of the Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations for a complete list of nuclear substances.
Learn more about the licensing process for nuclear substances and radiation devices.
The possession, use, transfer, import, export, servicing, abandonment and storage of radiation devices must be licensed by the CNSC when the amount of nuclear substances contained within the radiation device reaches 10 times the exemption quantity.
Learn more about the licensing process for nuclear substances licensing process for radiation devices.
Before you are licensed to possess and use radiation devices, you must ensure that the radiation devices you intend to possess are certified by the CNSC. All radiation devices that contain more than the exemption quantity of a nuclear substance are required to be certified by the CNSC prior to their use in Canada.
Learn more about certifying a radiation device.
See the current list of CNSC certified radiation devices
Sealed sources are nuclear substances in a sealed capsule or cover that prevents the dispersion of the substance. The possession and movement of high-risk sealed sources are monitored by the CNSC.
Read more about sealed source tracking.
Log in to the sealed source tracking system (SSTS).
Import/export of nuclear substances and radiation devices
The activities of importing and exporting nuclear substances and radiation devices can be authorized under a nuclear substances and radiation devices licence provided they do not appear on the list of controlled nuclear substances and equipment. If the substances and devices appear on the list, a separate CNSC licence is required.
The authorization to import or export can be added to the NSRD licence upon receipt of a licence amendment request from the licensee along with the proper justification. To clarify whether or not an export or import licence is required, you may contact your licensing specialist at 1-888-229-2672 or send an email to the CNSC.
Read more about the import and export of controlled substances, or see the Nuclear non-Proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations.
The possession of certain nuclear substances and radiation devices does not require a licence provided that they meet specific criteria. The Nuclear substances and Radiation Devices Regulations list a number of exemptions, including those related to smoke detectors, tritium safety signs and devices containing radium luminous compounds. Refer to the regulations below to determine if you need to apply to the CNSC for a licence.
- General exempted activities
- Exemption quantities
- Abandonment or disposal
- Smoke detectors
- Tritium safety signs
- Devices containing radium luminous compounds
- Check sources
There are about 60 different types of licences (called use types) that can be issued for nuclear substances and radiation devices. Examples of use types include:
- the manufacturing of nuclear substances and radiation devices
- industrial radiography
- diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures and therapeutic nuclear medicine
- x-ray fluorescence metal detection
- the various uses of fixed and portable radiation devices
To find out more about use types and learn which ones apply to you, see Appendix B of the Licence Application Guide: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices (REGDOC-1.6.1, version 2) or feel free to contact us.
Reporting an emergency
In the event of an emergency involving a nuclear facility, radioactive materials, nuclear substances or radiation devices, please contact the CNSC Duty Officer emergency telephone line at 613‑995‑0479 or call CNSC toll-free (within Canada) at 1-844-879-0805.
For more information, please see Report a Nuclear Incident.
Frequently asked questions
Read our frequently asked questions about nuclear substances and radiation devices.
Additional documentation and information
- REGDOC-1.6.1, Licence Application Guide: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, Version 2 (PDF, 915 KB)
- REGDOC-2.2.2, Personnel Training, Version 2 (supersedes G-313) (PDF, 1.40 MB)
- G-121 Radiation Safety in Educational, Medical and Research Institutions (PDF, 94 KB)
- G-129 (Rev 1) Keeping Radiation Exposures and Doses "As Low as Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)" (PDF, 154 KB)
- Regulatory Expectations Leak Testing of Sealed Sources – See Appendix AA of REGDOC-1.6.1 Licence Application Guide: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, version 2 (PDF, 915 KB)
- Regulatory Expectations for Calibration of Survey Meters – See Appendix Z of REGDOC-1.6.1 Licence Application Guide: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, version 2 (PDF, 915 KB)
- GD-52 Design Guide for Nuclear Substances Laboratories and Nuclear Medicine Room (PDF, 1.84 MB)
- RD-58 Thyroid Screening for Radioiodine (PDF, 370 KB)
- G-91 Ascertaining and Recording Radiation Doses to Individuals (PDF, 71 KB)
- CSA PCP-09 Certified Exposure Device Operator Personnel Certification Guide (PDF, 1.3 MB)
- REGDOC-1.6.1 Licence Application Form – Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, revision date 2017-05 (PDF, 1.27 MB)
- Request to Appoint a Radiation Safety Officer or an Alternate Radiation Safety Officer: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Licence, revision date 2021-02 (PDF, 329 KB)
- Request to Appoint a Radiation Safety Officer or an Alternate Radiation Safety Officer: Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Licence: Low-Risk Use Types ONLY, revision date 2021-02 (PDF, 329 KB)
- Landlord/Owner Acknowledgement Form, revision date 2017-05 (PDF, 837 KB)
- Request for Revocation and Record of Disposition of Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, revision date 2017-05 (PDF, 837 KB)
- Applicant Authority Form - Revision January 2020 (PDF, 201 KB) | updated form
- Application for a Licence to Export Nuclear and Nuclear-Related Dual-Use Items (PDF, 916 KB)
- Application for a Licence to Import Nuclear Items (PDF, 929 )
- Making Changes to Dose-Related Information Filed With the National Dose Registry (S-260) (PDF, 181 KB)
- Annual Compliance Reporting
- Licence Transfer Form - Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices, revision date 2018-10 (PDF, 824 KB)
- Checklist for Decommissioning (Unsealed Sources Only) (PDF, 42 KB)
- Basic Level: Use of Unsealed Nuclear Substances (PDF, 281 KB)
- Intermediate Level: Use of Unsealed Nuclear Substances (PDF, 297 KB)
- High Level: Use of Unsealed Nuclear Substances (PDF, 672 KB)
- Containment Level: Use of Unsealed Nuclear Substances (PDF, 674 KB)
- Nuclear Medicine: Nuclear Medicine Procedures (PDF, 296 KB)
- Guidelines for Handling Packages Containing Nuclear Substances – INFO-0744 (PDF, 237 KB)
- Spill Procedures (PDF, 297 KB)
- Responding to Accidents Involving Portable Gauges (PDF, 368 KB)
- Proper Care and Use of Personal Dosimeters (PDF, 640 KB)
- Welcome Package: Applicant Authority, Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Licences (PDF, 478 KB)
- Radionuclide Information Booklet
- Record Retention Period Summary (PDF, 146 KB)
- Radium Luminous Devices: Tips for Your Safety (PDF, 915 KB)
- CNSC Expectations for Licensee Response During Skin Contamination Events (PDF, 707 KB)
- Nuclear Safety and Control Act
- General Nuclear Safety and Control Regulations
- Radiation Protection Regulations
- Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations
- Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations, 2015
- Nuclear Security Regulations
- Nuclear Non-proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations
- CNSC Cost Recovery Fees Regulations
Service-providing organizations who wish to make their services available to licensees can submit their contact information to the CNSC by filling out a service provider form. Information will be published on the CNSC website once received. The CNSC will not endorse or recommend any of the organizations listed but provides them to licensees for information purposes only.
Canadian Radiation Protection Association members have offered to share knowledge and experience in their specialty areas with other licensees. The CNSC does not endorse or recommend any of the members and provides this list to licensees for information purposes only.
The CNSC is committed to providing you with a website that respects your privacy. The personal information on this form is required if you would like the CNSC to contact you with regard to your inquiry and/or comments. Please see our Privacy Act statement for more information.
Please fill out this form in order to contact the CNSC. Alternately, the CNSC can be reached at 1‑888‑229‑2672.
Contact form for nuclear substances and radiation devices
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