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Requirements for Registration With The GMC for Overseas Doctors

Published on: 11 Aug 2022

GMC Registration Requirements for Overseas Doctors

All doctors wishing to practice medicine in the UK unsupervised are required to first obtain full registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). Preparing well in advance and checking you meet the requirements early are key to a smooth journey to your GMC registration.

As such, this article aims to provide you with a step-by-step guide to help you ensure you meet all requirements and are ready to apply for GMC registration.

 

The Application Process:

  1. Apply online for registration using GMC Online.

  2. You will receive an email asking you to provide evidence.

  3. Gather your documents and scan them as one PDF file.

  4. Email scanned documents within 28 days of receiving their email above.

  5. The GMC will assess your documents within 5 days.

  6. If you have provided sufficient evidence, your application will be marked as complete. Otherwise, you will receive another email asking you to provide further evidence within 14 days.

  7. Attend an ID check if you have not done so already when you came to the UK to take the PLAB 2 test.

  8. If all the requested evidence is presented at the ID check, you will be granted registration.

 

Step 1: Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ):

Prior to starting an application, you must confirm whether your qualification is acceptable. The GMC states your qualification must have been awarded by a university listed on the World Directory of Medical Schools.

In some instances, they may accept your PMQ even if it is not listed in the directory as long as your qualification meets specific criteria for an acceptable PMQ as articulated by the GMC on their webpage.

If your qualification was awarded in the EEA or Switzerland, it may be classed as a relevant European qualification (REQ).

Once you have ascertained your PMQ meets the GMC’s acceptability criteria, you need to have it verified. This is done by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) through their online system: Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC) service.

ECFMG will verify the qualification is genuine by checking this directly with your awarding institution. You must send them a scanned copy of your PMQ certificate when you first qualified; it should show the exact date you passed your final exam.

 

Step 2: Proof of Clinical Knowledge and Skills:

In addition to ensuring your PMQ is acceptable, you must be able to demonstrate you have gained sufficient clinical skills and experience to practice in the UK. Depending on your background, this can be done through any one of the following:

  • A pass in the Professional Linguistic and Assessment Boards (PLAB) test: This test is required for doctors from outside the UK, EU, and Switzerland. It is designed to ensure you have the same clinical knowledge and skills as a UK doctor starting their second year of Foundation Programme (FY2). It consists of two parts: PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. Prior to taking the PLAB, you must set up a GMC Online account and provide proof of an acceptable medical qualification and level of English. Once verified, you may go on to book the first part of your PLAB; note you may sit PLAB 1 in several countries, whilst PLAB 2 must be taken the GMC clinical assessment centre.

  • Relevant European Qualification (REQ): Your qualification will be regarded as REQ if 

  • it is a PMQ listed on the relevant GMC webpage, and you have an accompanying certificate issued from the same country (if applicable),

OR

  • It is a specialist or GP qualification listed in the GMC webpage document,

AND

  • You started medical training for the qualification on or after the ‘reference date’ listed.

  • An acceptable postgraduate qualification (PGQ): These are listed on the GMC webpage. Your qualification should have been awarded no more than three years before the date on which the GMC approves your application. Otherwise, you will need to provide further evidence of your more recent medical experience. If your qualification is not listed below, you do not meet the criteria for exemptions and need to consider other routes.

  • Acceptable overseas registration exam: As of 12 January 2021, you are exempt from PLAB if you are an IMG with an acceptable PMQ, have completed an acceptable internship (see Step 3), and have passed one of the following overseas registration exams: 

  • United States Medical Licensing Exam: Step 1, Step 2 clinical knowledge and Step 2 clinical skills on or before 13 March 2020

  • Medical Council of Canada Qualification Examination 2 (in English) on or before 27 October 2020

  • The Australian Medical Council Clinical Examination on or before 5 March 2020

  • Sponsorship by a GMC-approved sponsor: This route involves finding a sponsor who you must provide with evidence you possess the medical knowledge, skills, and experience required for practising as a fully registered doctor in the UK. Although each sponsor has their own scheme, they all require you to have been engaged in medical practice for three out of five years, including the last 12 months. A list of sponsoring bodies can be found on the GMC webpage. If you are planning to train and develop your skills in the NHS and then return your country, you may wish to look into the Medical Training Initiative (MTI). This is a programme allowing international doctors to enter the UK on a Tier 5 visa and undertake a fixed period of training, lasting up to two years.

  • Certificate of Eligibility for the Specialty/GP Register (CESR/CEGPR): This route is intended for doctors who have not completed a GMC-approved training programme or internship, but can show they have knowledge, skills, and experience equivalent to the UK curriculum of their specialty.

 

Step 3: Evidence of Internship or Equivalent Experience:

You must have completed an acceptable internship in addition to passing both PLAB tests for full GMC registration; otherwise, you will only be eligible for a provisional license and hence be restricted to applying for formal FY1 training posts.

Nonetheless, if you have not completed an internship, the GMC may accept evidence that you practised for two years continuously after graduation under specific conditions.

As articulated by the GMC, an acceptable internship must consist of at least 12 months' continuous medical practice in an approved training post in a public hospital. You must have done this either immediately before or after you graduated.

Your internship must have included:

  • at least three months in medicine and three months in surgery, which lasted between 12 and 18 months,

OR

  • at least six months in medicine and six months in surgery, which lasted for 18 months or longer.

You will need to send the GMC a certificate or letter of completion from your institution, detailing the dates and specialties of your rotations.

 

Step 4: English Proficiency:

To ensure you do not put your patients’ safety at risk, the GMC will need to check whether you possess the necessary knowledge of English to communicate effectively; this includes speaking, reading, writing, and listening.

You may demonstrate your proficiency in English with either an IELTS or Occupational English Test (OET). Specific criteria for an acceptable IELTS or OET certificate can be found on the GMC webpage.

If you are a national of a country where English is the first and native language, and you were awarded your PMQ from there, you do not need to prove your proficiency in English.

 

Step 5: Certificate of Good Standing:

You will need to email the GMC a certificate of good standing from each medical authority you were registered with in the last five years, even if you have not worked in that country. 

Each certificate is only valid for three months from the date it is signed. It must be valid when your application is approved. If you are no longer registered with them, they may send you a past certificate of good standing.

 

Step 6: Activities for the Last 5 Years:

Details of all your medical and non-medical experience across the last five years must also be submitted as part of your application. 

Examples of other activities are:

  • clinical attachments

  • unemployment

  • maternity leave

  • study leave

  • vacation

  • career breaks

 

For non-medical work, or medical work you have done when you were not yet registered with a medical regulatory authority, you must also provide employment references. Ask your employer to complete the GMC’s reference form and email it directly to them.

Each reference form must confirm the exact dates of your employment, indicate that you were of good standing during your employment, outline the nature of your work, and show your registration requirements. Reference forms for any current posts are only valid for three months from the date they're signed. 

 

Step 7: Identity Check in the UK:

If your application is approved by the GMC, you will be invited for an identity check at their office in London. There, they will take a photograph of you and check your passport.

Once your application is approved, you have six months to arrange your trip to the UK. This time period cannot be extended for any reason.

 

References:

  1. Full Registration for International Medical Graduates. The General Medical Council. Available from: https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/registration-applications/application-guides/full-registration-for-international-medical-graduates 

  2. Word Directory of Medical Schools. Available from: https://www.wdoms.org

  3. Working in the UK and your Visa. British Medical Association. Available from: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/international-doctors/coming-to-work-in-the-uk/working-in-the-uk-and-your-visa/before-applying-for-a-visa 

  4. Medical Training Initiative. NHS Employers. Available from: https://www.nhsemployers.org/articles/medical-training-initiative

  5. Relevant European Qualifications. The General Medical Council. Available from: https://www.gmc-uk.org/-/media/documents/factsheet---international-apps---relevant-european-qualifications-list---dc11865_pdf-78131156.pdf

  6. Full registration for IMGs who have passed an acceptable overseas exam. The General Medical Council. Available from: https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/registration-applications/application-guides/full-registration-for-imgs-who-have-passed-an-acceptable-overseas-registration-exam