Your right to work and practise in the UK

For the right to work and practise in the United Kingdom (UK) as a general practitioner (GP) or family doctor, you need to meet these specific requirements:

  • You must be registered and licensed to practise with the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC checks your qualifications and whether your training is equivalent to that of a UK trained GP.
  • You must prove as a GP that you have the necessary knowledge of English to communicate effectively so that the safety of patients is not potentially 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.
  • You must satisfy immigration requirements set by the Home Office and have permission to work. Please refer to the NHS Guide for International Medical Graduates or see below.
  • You must complete an induction and be included on the NHS England GP Performers List (NPL), the National Medical Performers List (NMPL). 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 European Economic Area (EEA) national, see the section below, which explains the rights of European Union (EU) citizens during the transition as the UK prepares to leave membership of the EU.

Planning for a possible no-deal EU exit

Recognition of qualifications

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has written to health and social care staff updating on preparation on the UK’s exit from the EU. The letter sets out the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK after it leaves the EU and the continued recognition of EU professional qualifications in the UK. This means that qualifications currently recognised under the existing Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualification Directive will largely continue to be recognised in the event of a no-deal EU Exit.

This means:

  • Professionals who are currently working with a recognised qualification can continue to do so.
  • After exit day, any professionals entering the country whose qualification would have been recognised automatically under the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualification Directive at exit day will largely be entitled to similar treatment after exit for a period of a least two years.
  • If a professional holds a qualification that would not be entitled to automatic recognition under the Directive at exit day, their qualification will be assessed by the relevant UK regulator as it would be now.

EU nationals arriving in the UK before EU exit

If you are a national in the European Economic Area (EEA), you are currently 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 British Medical Association (BMA) has information on claiming permanent residence for EEA nationals.

The UK is in the process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU). If you’re an EU citizen who started living and working in the UK before the EU exit, you and your family will be able to continue living in the UK following the EU exit making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

EU nationals arriving in the UK after EU exit

European Temporary Leave to Remain

The UK Government has set out provisions for EEA citizens and their family members arriving in the UK after we leave the EU in the event the UK leaves without agreeing a deal. In this situation, the Government will end free movement, and this will happen as soon as practically possible. The Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill has been introduced to achieve this. This announcement confirms that, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be a transition period until the UK’s new skills-based immigration system is introduced at the beginning of 2021.

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)

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 (RCGP) also provides information and there is also support from the British Medical Association (BMA). 

The RCGP, working with the GMC, are reviewing the processes for GPs trained outside the EEA, to identify whether the GP registration process can be streamlined for those doctors whose training is seen as equivalent to the UK GP programme. As a result, from October 2018, a Streamlined Process for Australia (SPA) GPs was introduced, allowing NHS England to recruit GPs from Australia.

While the initial focus has been on recruiting GPs from within the EEA, we are still keen to hear from GPs from outside the EEA that may be interested in joining the programme. We can discuss your options and the support available to you.

Please take a few minutes to complete our enquiry form and we’ll get back in touch with you.

Additional information