A summary of the requirements candidates from countries that are not a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland must fulfill in order to practice medicine in the UK is described below.

1. Language Requirements
2. Registration with the GMC (General Medical Council)
3. Disclosure & Barring check
4. Occupational health report
5. Visa for non-EU doctors
6. PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) test


1. Language Requirements

There are different ways in which doctors may be able to demonstrate their knowledge of English.

Evidence of knowledge of English will only be considered if it meets the following criteria:

  • Is recent (less than two years old at the point of application)
  • Clearly shows you can read, write and interact with patients, relatives and healthcare professionals in English
  • Can be verified through contact with recognised medical institutions, regulators or other official bodies

a. IELTS test

The easiest and clearest way to demonstrate knowledge of English is to take the academic version of the IELTS test and meet the following minimum scores.

  • A score of at least 7.0 in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing), and an overall score of 7.5.
  • These scores have to be acquired in the same test
  • Only the academic version of the test is accepted
  • The certificate must have the original stamp and test report form (TRF) number

IELTS certificates are valid for two years.

Other forms of validating knowledge of the English language are:

b. An offer of employment from a UK healthcare organisation

where you can provide:

  • A copy of the offer in writing
  • A completed English language reference for doctors with UK job offers from the appointing clinician
  • Confirmation from the Responsible Officer that the recruitment process has made sure that the applicant has the necessary knowledge of English to practice safely in the UK

c. Your PMQ is less than two years old at the point you apply for registration.

You will have to provide an original letter or certificate from the institution where you qualified that confirms:

  • All of the course, including clinical activities, were taught and examined solely in English,
  • At least 75% of any clinical interaction, including personal contact with patients, their families and other healthcare professionals, which took place as part of the course of study, was conducted in English,
  • The date you passed your final examination.

2. Registration with the GMC

All doctors intending to practice medicine in the UK are required to be registered with the GMC, follow the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidance and be subject to the GMC Fitness to Practice actions.

The required documents in order to register depend on a number of things, but some are standard such as:

  • Evidence of your primary medical qualification
  • Proof of identity (passport or identity card if it states your nationality)
  • Certificates of good standing from any medical regulators you have been registered with in the last five years (and translations of them)
  • Employer reference(s) (and translations of them).

3. Disclosure & Barring check

Job candidates can’t do a criminal records check on themselves.

  • The employer gets an application form from DBS or a registered body that gives access to DBS checks (umbrella body).
  • The employer gives the applicant the form to fill in and return to them along with documents proving their identity.
  • The employer sends the completed application form to DBS or their umbrella body.
  • DBS sends a certificate to the applicant. The employer has to ask the applicant to see the certificate.

4. Occupational health report

An Occupational Health Assessment is a medical examination performed by an Occupational Health Physician with an aim of addressing questions raised by the employer. Its primary aim is to advise management regarding the employee’s health issue and to make recommendations on what adjustments could be considered to ensure a safe/healthy working environment for that employee. It can also be an assessment of somebody’s fitness to work.

The aim of the report is to inform Management and give them an expert medical opinion and sufficient information to enable them to make any onward decisions with appropriate knowledge.

5. Visa for Non – EU doctors

Tier 2 work permits are applied for by employees who are coming to the UK to fill a vacant position that cannot be filled by a British citizen and who have confirmed sponsorship from a licensed UK employer.

It is vital that the employer can show that the business is genuine and that there is a genuine requirement for the intended role. In addition, the proposed employee must be suitably skilled and/or qualified for the vacant position, meeting the basic requirements and passing the Tier 2 points test.

In order for an employer to be able to obtain a work permit, in most cases they must first be able to prove that they had advertised the position nationally and could not fill it with someone from inside the European Economic Area.

In order for an employer to sponsor a foreign worker, the employer must first have an Employer Sponsorship License.

A successful applicant is given up to three years to live and work in the UK for that employer. This period can be extended later. After being in the UK for five years, it is possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as permanent residency. Work permits are specific to the employers who obtained them, meaning that they are not transferable.

6. PLAB test

  • What is the PLAB test?

The PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) test is for doctors who have qualified overseas and wish to practise medicine in the UK. The test assesses your ability, as a doctor, to work safely as a senior house officer (SHO) in a UK NHS hospital.

  • How many parts to the PLAB test are there?

There are two parts:

Part 1 is a three-hour exam containing 200 questions. It consists of extended matching questions (EMQ) and single best answer (SBA) questions.

Part 2 is a 14-station objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). It lasts for about one hour and 40 minutes.

  • What are the entry requirements for the PLAB test?

Before taking the test, you must have:

A primary medical qualification accepted for registration by an institution listed in the World Health Organisation Directory of Medical Schools

Taken the IELTS academic modules and attained a score of at least 7.0 overall and a minimum of 7.0 for all of the four language skills. For further information please visit the General Medical Council website

12 months’ postgraduate clinical experience at a teaching hospital.

  • Where can I sit the test?

Part 1 can be taken in the UK and Bulgaria

Part 2 may be taken in the UK only.

  • How many times can I attempt the test?

You can sit Part 1 as many times as you like, but you can only take Part 2 of the test four times. If you fail at the fourth attempt you will have to take Part 1 again.

  • When will I receive my results?

Part 1 results are usually available four weeks after the test.

Part 2 results are usually available two weeks after the test.

  • How long are results valid for?

You must pass Part 2 within three years of passing Part 1. Your result is then valid for three years.


Medical School Requirements

SEWN International Specialist Recruiting will only accept and process CVs from candidates that have attended medical universities that are validated by the World Directory.

To help and protect patients and to meet the needs of our clients, we need to know that a doctor has attended a genuine medical school of good standard, and has demonstrated the competence required to become a certified medical doctor. The validated information in the World Directory proves that a medical school exists and is of good quality.

The World Directory defines “medical school” as an educational institution that provides a complete or full program of instruction leading to a basic medical qualification; that is, a qualification that permits the holder to obtain a license to practice as a medical doctor or physician.



* For non-EU candidates the process time is expectably longer and the probability for a successful placements is relatively lower. However education & citizenship within Europe for non EU-Candidates is an advantage.