Can my referee send a reference letter before a match opens?

Applicants can request an early letter of reference as early as one year prior to their match year opening. Instructions on requesting an early letter of reference can be found here and further below.

NOTE: Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Orthopedic Surgery programs have approved structured reference letter templates that must only be completed by referees when the match is open as they will not accept traditional letters of reference. You are unable to request an early reference letter for these disciplines early. Once the match opens, you will be able to make an online request for the Family Medicine Structured Reference Letter, Emergency Medicine Structured Reference Letter, and/or the Orthopedic Surgery Structured Reference Letter. Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine Structured Reference Letters are forms built-into the CaRMS Online system directly which means they can only be completed by the referee in their CaRMS Referee Portal account. Orthopedic Surgery is not yet built-into CaRMS Online and must be completed and then uploaded by the Referee. 

Applicants may choose to request an early letter of reference during an elective, prior to the CaRMS Online platform opening. Typically, early letters of reference are requested during clerkship.

The early reference letter form gives an applicant the opportunity to ask for a reference letter while still interacting with their preceptor, before the CaRMS Online platform opens for their match year.  

To request an early letter, follow the instructions below:

  1. Fill out the reference form and give it to your referee. The form can be found on our website, here:

  2. Once the letter of reference is completed by your referee, both the letter and early reference letter form must be sent by email to prior to the match opening.

  3. Once CaRMS is in receipt of both documents, you will receive an email confirming that we are in possession of your letter and you will be asked to create a request for it in your CaRMS Online account when the match is open.

  4. Once the match is open and you have created the reference request in your CaRMS Online account, you are required to reply to the email and include the reference ID number provided once you have created the request online. Please note that your reference letter will not be uploaded into your account until you have sent us your reference ID number by e-mail at


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