Undue Hardship

Master Electrician Renewal of Expired Licence (One Year or More) – Undue Hardship

Are you a Master Electrician (ME) whose licence expired over 12 months ago? In order to re-activate your Master Electrician licence after more than 12 months have passed since its expiration, you would normally have to reapply for it as a new applicant. This includes passing the Master Electrician qualifying exam.

However, if your circumstances fall under the "undue hardship" exception under Section 15 (10.1) of Ontario Regulation 570/05, you may be able to renew your licence instead.

What is undue hardship?

Do you qualify for undue hardship? ESA strongly recommends you review the definition before taking steps to apply. Here’s what it means:

An undue hardship is a circumstance or experience that creates an excessive or disproportionate burden or obstacle, usually beyond a person’s control, that directly causes the person to be unable to complete the renewal application process in the specified one year timeframe.

You must prove that these five factors apply to your situation for it to fall under undue hardship:

  1. The burden is significant, not just the ordinary hardships of life.
  2. The situation directly prevented you from completing the renewal process in time.
  3. The burden was not just temporary, but lasted long enough to cause you to miss the one-year deadline.
  4. The circumstances were beyond your control, but you took reasonable steps to improve the situation.
  5. You applied for late renewal under the “undue hardship” exemption as soon as possible after the one-year deadline expired.

An example of undue hardship would be your own or a family member’s serious illness or disability. The key is a significant and lengthy crisis that directly caused you to miss the renewal application deadline.

You must be able to show that your undue hardship fell within the application timeline, and it prevented you from renewing on time.

Some examples of what is NOT considered undue hardship

  • Moving your home, resulting in a changed mailing address or misdirected mail.
  • Being unable to pay the renewal application fee.
  • Having your Master Electrician licence suspended, revoked or refused renewal because you didn't meet an imposed condition.

Supporting Documents

To have your application considered as undue hardship, you must show that your situation directly contributed to your inability to meet the deadline.

You must include all relevant documents to support your case. Depending on the nature of the hardship, this may include hospital records or a doctor’s note. The documents must show why you were not able to complete the renewal application at any time during the 12-month renewal period.

Failing to provide the documents that support your application may lead to it being refused.


  • The Director may question and clarify any documents and reasons given.
  • The Director may ask for other documentation (a doctor's letter, for example) to support your application under undue hardship.
  • The Director may impose terms, conditions and limitations on a Master Electrician licence renewal. For example, you may have to complete a Health & Safety course or Ontario Electrical Safety Code training. You may also have to write the Master Exam within a set time.

Application Process

The Director will assess applications under the undue hardship clause and deal with them on a case-by-case basis. The applications are considered as part of a renewal process.

The Director will communicate his/her decision in writing as soon as possible.

To apply for an undue hardship request:

  1. Step 1
    Call ESA at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (Option 3). Ask for a Licensing Customer Service Representative. You must speak with a member of ESA’s Licensing Team before you submit a claim of undue hardship. The Representative will give you more information and a formal application.
  2. Step 2
    Send your Application for Renewal with Hardship Consideration Form to ESA.Licensing@Electricalsafety.on.ca. Attach all relevant supporting documents. Not providing the right documents may cause delays or the refusal of your application.
  3. Step 3
    The Director of Licensing will review your submission and make a decision.
    Note: the Director may ask for more information during this process.
  4. Step 4
    You will either be granted the licence renewal or the Director will advise you of the decision in writing. The Director will provide his/her decision as soon as possible after your completed application is received.
    Note: the Director of Licensing may set terms, conditions and limitations to the approval of your application.
  5. Step 5
    If the Director approves your application, you will be invited to finalize the renewal. This includes paying the renewal fees.

If your application is denied or you must meet terms, limitations or conditions, the Director will send you a Notice of Proposal explaining the decision. If you disagree with the Notice, you may dispute it through ESA’s appeals process