Hockey Canada (HCOP) Level System

Hockey Canada Officiating Program (HCOP) employs a six level system.

Prepares a young or new official to officiate minor hockey

  • Register for a Level I clinic to get started.
  • Certified at Level I with attendance and completion of a Level I clinic – minimum eight (8) hours of instruction
  • National exam must be marked and returned prior to the completion of the clinic
  • Minimum age to participate in the Level I clinic is 13 years old on or before December 31 of the current season.

There are over 10,000 officials registered as Level 2 annually.

  • Further enhances the training and skills of the minor hockey official.
  • Minimum of 16 years old as of December 31 of the current season
  • Complete Level II clinic
    • minimum eight (8) hours in duration
    • obtain a minimum of 70% on a written national exam (marked and returned prior to the completion of the clinic

Prepares officials to referee in minor hockey playoffs, minor hockey regional playoffs, or female national championship, or to be a linesman in Junior B, Senior, Bantam or Midget regional championships. There are over 5,000 registered level 3 officials across Canada.

  • Fully certified at Level II and referee at least one year at that level to register for Level III
  • Attend Level III clinic (minimum eight hours of instruction), and obtain a minimum of 80% on a written national examination (marked and returned prior to the completion of the clinic)
  • Pass a practical, on-ice evaluation, performed by a qualified Hockey Canada Branch Officiating Program supervisor
  • Judged capable of refereeing in minor hockey playoffs

Prepares officials capable of refereeing Senior, Junior A or B, minor hockey regional and national championships, female hockey national championships and designated minor hockey IIHF competition; or linesman in Major Junior, Junior A, Senior, University, College, Inter-Branch and IIHF competitions. On average there are 900 registered level 4 officials in Canada.

  • Fully certified at Level III and referee one year at that level
  • Attend a Level IV Branch clinic (attendance is by invitation only)
  • Attend and participate in all sessions of the Level IV clinic (minimum 14 hours), obtain a minimum of 80% on a written national exam
  • Pass a practical, on-ice evaluation, performed by a qualified Hockey Canada Branch Officiating Program supervisor

To prepare competent officials to referee Major Junior, Junior A, Senior, University, College, Inter Branch playoffs, Minor Hockey Regional or National Championships. On average there are 200 registered Level V officials in Canada.

  • Fully certified at Level IV and referee one year at that level
  • Attend the Branch Level V seminar (minimum of 14 hours of instruction); attendance is by invitation only
  • Participate in all sessions obtaining a mark of 90% on a written national exam
  • Evaluated on-ice by Branch Hockey Referee in Chief to complete certification
  • Must undergo fitness and skating tests

To prepare competent officials capable of officiating at national championship finals and designated IIHF competition – including the Memorial Cup, Canadian Junior A Championship, Allan Cup, World Championships, Olympics and others. There is on average 70 registered Level VI officials in Canada.

  • Branch nominations are submitted to the Hockey Canada National office and are reviewed by a selection committee
  • Fully certified at Level V (including fitness tests) and referee one year at that level
  • Attend and participate in all sessions of a Level VI clinic, minimum of four days of instruction, obtain a minimum of 90% on a written national examination
  • Pass a practical on-ice evaluation, performed by a national supervisor
  • Complete a written assignment assigned by the Hockey Canada Referee in Chief
  • Level VI clinics are held based on national need for Level VIs. The Hockey Canada Manager, Officiating is responsible for the organization of the site and program, establishing criteria and review of candidate qualifications
  • Attempts are made to stage the clinic in conjunction with a major training program or early in the season, requesting cooperation from local leagues so officials are able to work scrimmages or games.
  • An individual must be at least 13 years of age (by December 31 of the current season) to attend a clinic.
  • An individual must be at least 16 years of age to be certified at Level II or higher.
  • An individual will not be eligible to advance more than one level of the Hockey Canada officiating program per season, except for Levels I and II.
  • Certification at any level with the Hockey Canada officiating program does not make an individual automatically eligible for entry to the next higher level (except Level I). Demonstration of ability or potential ability is necessary to move to the next level.
  • Being certified at any one level does not necessarily mean that an individual will be able to officiate all categories of hockey defined at that level. Conversely, an individual does not have to officiate all categories of hockey labeled at a certain level in order to gain certification at that level.
  • Officials, where it has been determined (through supervision) that they are no longer able to officiate at a certain level, will be certified at a new, lower level in line with their present ability.
  • To maintain one’s present level of certification, an individual must attend a full Hockey Canada officiating program clinic and write a national examination every year with appropriate passing mark. An open book exam is not acceptable for re-certification purposes.
  • Should an official fail the Level IV, V or VI examination, the branch shall be authorized to allow the candidate to write a supplementary examination during the current season. This second exam shall be different from the first one and shall originate from the Hockey Canada head office. Only those officials whose supplementary examinations are successful and sent to the Hockey Canada head office shall be eligible to referee inter-branch playoffs.
  • An individual will not be eligible to advance more than one level of the Hockey Canada officiating program per season, except for Levels I and II. Certification at the higher level cannot be granted until one year has passed.
  • When an official has not officiated for a season or more, the individual must attend a full Hockey Canada officiating program clinic at the appropriate level and successfully complete a practical assessment.
  • When a Level VI official has not officiated for a season or more and wants to regain Level VI status, the individual must first obtain Level V status within the branch. The candidate may then apply to the Hockey Canada manager, officiating through his/her branch referee-In-chief for Level VI certification, which requires the successful completion of the Level VI examination, and an on-ice evaluation by a national supervisor. The cost of such re-assessment shall be borne by the branch and/or official.