Your right to work and practise in the UK

If you are a national in the European Economic Area (EEA), you are free to come to the UK to work. There is no limit to how long you can stay in the UK – it will depend on the contract of employment.  Once an EEA national has been in the UK for five years, they and their family members can claim permanent residence providing they have been working or self-employed for those five years.

The UK is in the process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU) and a specific agreement has been made so that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now.

Therefore, any GP recruited under the International GP Recruitment programme and working in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy the same rights and benefits as now. GP qualifications of EU doctors will continue to be recognised if they were obtained before 29 March 2019.

For the right to work and practise in the UK, specific requirements must be met:

  1. All doctors must be registered and licensed to practise with the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC checks your qualifications and whether your training is fit for purpose. If you do not hold a UK primary medical qualification there are three ways you can obtain full registration with a licence to practise:

These assess whether you have the required knowledge and skills to practise medicine safely. Whichever route is followed you must hold an acceptable primary medical qualification. Doctors who have either a postgraduate qualification in general practice, or a minimum of six months’ GP training can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for GP Registration (CEGPR). Once you have gained a CEGPR you are automatically included in the GP Register.

  1. Doctors must prove they have the necessary knowledge of English to communicate effectively so the safety of patients is not put at risk. In the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) a score of at least 7.0 in each of the four areas tested (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and an overall score of 7.5 is required by the GMC.
  1. Doctors must satisfy immigration requirements set by the Home Office and have permission to work. Please refer to the NHS Guide for International Medical Graduates.

If you are an European Economic Area (EEA) national see the section below which explains the rights of EU Citizens during the transition as the UK prepares to leave membership of the EU. If you are not an EEA national you will need a job offer and a tier 2 (General) visa and there are several rules you need to meet. The Royal College of General Practitioners also provides information and there is also support from the British Medical Association. 

  1. Doctors must complete an induction and be included on the NHS England GP Performers list, the National Medical Performers List (NMPL or NPL). The NMPL states you are fit to practise as an independent practitioner. For the application process visit the online portal.

Doctors in the European Economic Area

If you are a national in the European Economic Area (EEA), you are free to come to the UK to work. There is no limit to how long you can stay in the UK – it will depend on the contract of employment. Once an EEA national has been in the UK for five years, they and their family members can claim permanent residence providing they have been working or self-employed for those five years. The BMA has information on claiming permanent residence for EEA nationals.

The UK is in the process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU) and a specific agreement has been made so that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now. Therefore, any GP recruited under the International GP Recruitment programme and working in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy the same rights and benefits as now. GP qualifications of EU doctors will continue to be recognised if they were obtained before 29 March 2019.

The agreement includes that:

  • Close family members will be able to join after the UK has left the EU. This includes spouses, unmarried partners, children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents. Children born or adopted outside of the UK after  29 March 2019 will also be covered,
  • People will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing settled status, more than double the level of absence allowed under current EU law. There will be the same reciprocal protection for UK nationals living in the EU,
  • Professional qualifications (eg doctors and architects) will continue to be recognised where these are obtained before the date of the UK’s departure from the EU,
  • It will be easy to apply for settled status and there will be a full right of appeal,
  • Those EU citizens who already hold a valid Permanent Residence document will be able to have their status converted to settled status free of charge.

There will be a transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable EU citizens to apply for settled status from the latter half of 2018. For the latest information for European Union citizens living in the UK please refer to this UK government webpage.

Doctors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)

The Royal College of General Practitioners, working with the General Medical Council, are reviewing the curriculum, training and assessment processes for GPs trained outside the EEA, beginning with Australia, to identify whether the GP registration process can be streamlined for those doctors whose training is seen as equivalent to the UK GP programme.

While the initial focus is on recruiting doctors from within the EEA,  doctors from outside the EEA can still register their interest in this programme, by emailing england.primarycareworkforce@nhs.net.