Advisory Circular (AC) No. 400-002

Aviation Language Proficiency Requirements

Issuing Office: Standards
PAA Sub Activity Area: Aviation Safety Regulatory Framework Document No.: AC 400-002
Classification File No.: A 5800-1 P/A Issue No.: 02
RDIMS No.: 4276189-V18 Effective Date: 2010-08-09


This Advisory Circular (AC) is provided for information and guidance purposes. It describes an acceptable means, but not the only means of demonstrating compliance with regulations and standards. This AC in and of itself does not change, create, amend or permit deviations from regulatory requirements nor does it establish minimum standards.

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this AC is to provide information to Canada’s aviation community and other foreign aviation authorities about the new licensing requirements associated with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Language Proficiency Standards. It also describes the Aviation Language Proficiency Test (ALPT) requirements and provides procedures and guidance to individuals wishing to complete a language proficiency assessment.

1.2 Applicability

This document applies to Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) employees, to external ministerial delegates authorized to administer the ALPT and to individuals interested in completing the ALPT.

1.3 Description of Changes

A new section 9.0 was inserted to cover Applicants Holding Foreign Licences.


2.1 Reference Documents

It is intended that the following reference materials be used in conjunction with this document:

  1. Part IV Subpart 1 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs)—Flight Crew Permits, Licences and Ratings;

  2. Part IV Subpart 2 of the CARs—Air Traffic Controller Licences and Ratings;

  3. Standard 421 of the CARs—Flight Crew Permits, Licences and Ratings;

  4. Standard 422 of the CARs—Air Traffic Controller Licences and Ratings;

  5. Staff Instruction (SI) 400-002, 2008-03-27Aviation Language Proficiency Licensing Requirements;

  6. Authorized Person Guidelines, 1997-11;

  7. ICAO Guidance Manual for the Implementation of the Language Proficiency Requirements (DOC 9835).

2.2 Cancelled Documents

On issue of this present AC, the following document is to be cancelled:

  1. Advisory Circular (AC) 400-002, Issue 01, 2008-03-27Aviation Language Proficiency Licensing Requirements.

2. 3 Definitions and Abbreviations

Not applicable.


The introduction of aviation language proficiency standard by the ICAO is meant to ensure that flight crews and air traffic control personnel are proficient in conducting and comprehending radiotelephony communications in English or the language used for aviation communications between aircraft and ground stations worldwide. TCCA now annotates flight crew and air traffic controller licences to indicate the linguistic competence of the licence holder. New regulations have been introduced to require a demonstration of language competence for the initial issue of any flight crew licence. TCCA has also developed the ALPT to assess linguistic ability in English and French. Canadian testing and licensing requirements are based on ICAO standards, recommended practices and associated guidance material.

3.1 Licensing Requirements

  1. A confirmation of language proficiency is now one of the requirements for licence issue, similar to the confirmation required for age, citizenship and medical fitness. The new aviation language proficiency requirements will be found in sections 401.06 and 402.03 of the CARs and subsections 421.06(4) and 422.03(4) of the associated Standards, which include the rating scale.

  2. This new licensing requirement applies to all new applicants for air traffic controller licences and to all new applicants for flight crew licences at any level (private, commercial, and airline transport) and for all categories for which a licence is issued (aeroplane, helicopter, balloon and glider).

  3. The requirement to demonstrate language proficiency will not apply to those applying for the issue of flight crew permit, since permits are only valid for domestic flights, for use within Canada.


  1. Consistent with the ICAO standards, Canada has used an informal assessment process to determine the language proficiency of existing document holders. Most current licence holders have been assessed for language proficiency through this review process.

  2. With the introduction of amendments to the CARs, new applicants must be formally assessed using the ALPT.

  3. The ALPT rates language proficiency as either “Expert” (corresponding to ICAO Level 6) or “Operational” (corresponding to ICAO Levels 4 & 5) or “Below Operational” (corresponding to ICAO levels 1-3).

    1. Those assessed at the Below Operational level do not qualify for a Canadian flight crew or air traffic controller licence;

    2. Those assessed at the Expert level require no further testing; and

    3. Those assessed at the Operational level must be re-tested every 5 years.


  1. The ALPT will be used to test the English-language or French-language ability of all new applicants for flight crew or air traffic controller licences in Canada.

  2. TCCA has established a national network of delegated examiners who can administer the ALPT. Applicants can contact a designated examiner through the training unit where they receive instruction for the flight crew licence or through the Air Navigation Service Provider where they receive instruction for the air traffic controller licence.

  3. Any current TCCA delegate (Pilot Examiner, Authorized Person, Authorized Examination Invigilator, etc.) who is interested in becoming designated to conduct the ALPT for flight crew should contact the nearest Regional Office for more information.

  4. Any current TCCA delegate (Authorized Person - ATC) who is interested in becoming designated to conduct the ALPT for ATC should contact the Chief, ANS Operations Oversight for more information.


  1. The test is a proficiency test of speaking and listening. It is scored using a rating scale and holistic descriptors developed by ICAO. It tests language in a broader context beyond the use of ICAO phraseologies. The test is designed to measure language proficiency in an aviation context.

  2. A trained test administrator or Examiner conducts the ALPT. The Examiner will present several different scenarios and ask the candidate to respond as if he or she were part of the scenario (“role-play”). The test consists of up to 20 responses and takes about 20 minutes to complete.

  3. The ALPT will assess:

    1. Listening comprehension;

    2. Speaking ability; and

    3. Responses to different scenarios.

  4. Candidates are evaluated on 6 areas of their verbal communications: Pronunciation, Structure, Vocabulary, Fluency, Comprehension and Interactions.


  1. Individuals wishing to complete the test should contact an ALPT Examiner. When you register with an Examiner, you will receive a date and time for the test, as well as instructions for the completion of the test.

  2. A list of regional ALPT Delegates can be found on the Internet at: or, in the case of air traffic controller Examiners, a list can be obtained from the Air Navigation Service Provider.


  1. Canadian flight crew licences bear one of three annotations:

    1. Language Proficiency – English;

    2. Language Proficiency – French; or

    3. Language Proficiency – English/French.

  2. Canadian air traffic controller licences bear one of two annotations:

    1. Language Proficiency – English; or

    2. Language Proficiency – English/French.

  3. Canadian licences do not list the holder’s language proficiency level. Applicants who demonstrate proficiency at the “Below Operational” level cannot be issued a licence. The “Language Proficiency” annotation on a Canadian licence indicates that the holder has demonstrated linguistic ability at or above the Operational level.

  4. Since the fall of 2007, reissued licences have included a notation about language proficiency. Documents issued without a language proficiency annotation will be reissued with the language notation. Because of the potential for international usage, Commercial and Airline Transport Pilot licences that do not already include a notation about language proficiency have been reissued. Holders of other licences who anticipate using their licences outside of Canada can have their licences reissued to include the language annotation by making a request to their regional General Aviation offices. There is no charge for reissuing licences to include the notation about language proficiency in the current licence format for pilots travelling outside of Canada.


  1. Applicants for a Canadian Foreign Licence Validation Certificate must present a foreign licence endorsed with English or French Language Proficiency.

  2. Applicants for Canadian Licences (including licences issued on the basis of foreign licence) must provide evidence of language proficiency. This evidence can be in the form of:

    1. A foreign licence endorsed with English or French language proficiency;

    2. Other documentation from the Civil Aviation Authority that issued the licence attesting to the applicant’s language proficiency; or

    3. Evidence of having completed the Canadian Aviation Language Proficiency Test.

  3. When a foreign licence provides no information about the level of language proficiency, the applicant will be assumed to be proficient at the Operational level and the validity date of the Canadian licence will be determined accordingly based on the 5-year validity period for the Canadian "Operational" level. Applicants holding a foreign licence without information about the language proficiency level may provide other documentation from the Civil Aviation Authority that issued the licence attesting to the applicant's Expert level language proficiency if they wish Canadian language proficiency records to reflect an Expert level assessment. Applicants presenting a foreign licence that gives no information about the test date, re-test date or expiry date for language proficiency must provide additional documentation from the Civil Aviation Authority that issued the licence showing the language proficiency level and test date.

    Note: ICAO recommends retesting every three years for Operational level 4 and six years for Extended level 5 licence holders. When only the valid to date is shown, this information should be used to determine the test date to be entered into the Distributed Air Personnel Licensing System (DAPLS).

  4. TCCA’s licensing records require information about the date on which an applicant's language assessment was conducted. When a foreign licence specifies a valid-to or re-test date for language proficiency but does not specify the test date, TCCA staff will estimate a test date from the listed validity date, based on the assumption that Operational level 4 assessments are valid for three years and that Extended level 5 assessments are valid for six years. The validity date of the Canadian licence will be determined accordingly. Expert level assessments have no expiry date.

  5. Some Civil Aviation Authorities are not yet fully compliant with ICAO language proficiency requirements, therefore they are obliged to post their language proficiency implementation plans on the ICAO website. Applicants holding documents from one of these states must provide evidence consistent with what is posted by their country. To locate information about the implementation plans of states not yet in full compliance with ICAO language proficiency requirements, please:

    1. access the ICAO Language Proficiency website at;

    2. select the List of States that have provided information concerning compliance with language proficiency requirements; and

    3. select the ICAO State that issued the licence.


For more information on Flight Crew language issues, please contact your regional office

Suggestions for amendment to this document are invited and should be submitted via the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS) at the following Internet address:

or by e-mail at:

Original signed by Arlo Speer for

Don Sherritt
Director, Standards
Civil Aviation
Transport Canada


Atlantic Region - Air Transport (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland & Labrador)
PO Box 42
Moncton, New Brunswick
E1C 8K6
Phone: 1-800-387-4999

Quebec Region - Air Transport (Quebec)
700 Leigh Capreol
Dorval, Quebec
H4Y 1G7
Phone: (514) 633-3863
Facsimile: (514) 633- 3575

Ontario Region - Civil Aviation (Ontario)
4900 Yonge Street, Suite 300
North York, Ontario
M2N 6A5
Phone: (416) 952-0230
Facsimile: (416) 952-0196

Prairie and Northern Region (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut
344 Edmonton Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Phone: (204) 983-3152
Facsimile: 1-888-463-0521

Pacific Region - Air (British Columbia)
Transport Canada
820 - 800 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6Z 2J8
Phone: (604) 666-5571
Facsimile: (604) 666-4839

For information on Air Traffic Controller Aviation Language Proficiency Test contact:

Chief, ANS Operations Oversight
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C, 4th Floor,
330 Sparks Street,
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N8

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