How to Become a Doctor in UK for Foreigners

The UK is becoming a thriving ground for medical practice. This is partly because of Covid-19 and the increase in demand for medical services.

The UK has one of the best health systems in the world attracting doctors all over the world. Today’s update seeks to provide information for individuals seeking to know to become a doctor in the UK for foreigners.

We shall also outline useful information and guides on getting started as a medical student in the UK including how to get a job in the UK for foreigners. The process is quite a lot but is worth it in the end.

How to Become a Doctor in UK for Foreigners

Learning to become a doctor isn’t easy – studying medicine for 5 or 6 years is just the beginning of what is a lifetime journey of learning. Even after you become a doctor, you will never stop learning on the job until your retirement.

For clarity, we have outlined a good number of the things you should know about how to become a doctor in the UK for foreigners. We did a step-by-step analysis on how to go about becoming a doctor in the UK for foreigners.

Plan Ahead

In the UK, most medical schools require you to submit your application by 15th October to start in September the following year.

Even if you apply by 15th October, you must begin preparing earlier. The desire to become a competitive student starts in the first year of the university.

One needs to ensure resources and materials needed for the academic journey are always at their disposal.

You may have to take A level or apply for a Medical foundation program if you do not study a high school qualification that qualifies you for direct entry to Medicine.

 Identify Your Options

The General Medical Council requires each of the UK’s medical schools to meet certain standards, so you can be assured of a high-quality education no matter what medical school you choose.

Your choice school should be the ones you met their requirements and your UKCAT score is high enough to attract them.

The mode of teaching, learning, lifestyle and general university culture should equally be taken into consideration.

Many UK medical schools offer Problem Based Learning curricula in which independent learning is a key component of the learning process.

This is suitable for active learners and team workers. You can also find out when clinical placements start.

You can visit a medical school during an open day if you’re traveling from overseas. Even if you cannot make an open day, you may still take a visit.

Before applying, contact the schools you’re interested into schedule a meeting. Check your eligibility beforehand to avoid wasting time.

Foreign Doctors in UK Requirements

Having talked about how to become a doctor in the UK for foreign students, let’s throw details on how to work in the UK as a foreign-trained doctor.

There is every possibility of you becoming a doctor in the UK as a foreign-trained doctor, provided all the requirements have been met.

It will take more than just your certificates and documentation to start work as a doctor. You will need to go through a series of evaluations and medical studies assessments.

The General Medical Council (GMC) issued licenses to practice medicine and apply to all doctors in the UK regardless of whether they are employed by the NHS or private sector, either full-time or part-time and permanently or as locums.


To practice medicine in the UK, doctors need to be registered with the General Medical Council, follow the GMC’s good medical practice guidelines, and be subject to the GMC Fitness to Practice process.

It will be impossible to apply for registration without a license for doctors who have never registered with the GMC.

Below are the requirements

  • Your nationality
  • The country where you got your undergraduate medical degree.
  •  The kind of work you want to do.
  •  Whether you’ve completed a post-graduate training program or internship.

To apply for registration, you should verify that you possess an acceptable primary health care qualification. If you are unsure about your qualifications, you should check with the GMC.

Additionally, international medical graduates (IMGs) will be required to show their medical knowledge and skills, and as a condition of registration, all applicants may have to prove they are proficient in English. Visit the IMGs website to know more about this.

We equally wish to note that getting registered with GMC does not guarantee automatic employment in the UK. However, it is usually a good place to start.

Requirements for Non-European Economic Area nationals

For non-UK/EAA nationals, you will have to meet some requirements stated in the UK Visa Immigration before you can be allowed to enter and start work in the UK.

Foundation Programme

A two-year Foundation Programme is required of all UK medical graduates after graduation. It is the link between medical school and specialist or general practice training.

The Foundation Programme will provide trainees with a variety of specialist and general practice placements.

After completing the Foundation Programme, doctors can apply to a specialty or a general practice training program.

As part of your degree, you may have finished an internship year. If the GMC has granted you full registration, you will need to consider entering the foundation program via a locum post.

Further information is available on the Medical and Dental Recruitment website.

Types of Registration

There are different types of registration available for doctors seeking to work in the UK. The type you take depends largely on nationality, qualification, status, among many other things.

Provisional Registration: Newly qualified doctors can only work in approved Foundation Year 1 posts with provisional registration (alongside a license to practice). It is illegal for provisionally registered doctors to work in any other type of position.

You can apply for GMC after the successful completion of your Foundation year 1 program. Below are the requirements.

  • Graduates with a UK medical qualification who have graduated from UK universities recognized in the Medical Act of 1983.
  •  International graduates with a primary medical qualification who have passed the PLAB test but haven’t completed an internship.
  • Medical school graduates from the EEA, Switzerland, and other countries with EC rights but who graduated outside the EEA.
  •  Switzerland Medical school graduates from the EEA, Switzerland, and other countries with EC rights but who graduated at EEA or Swiss schools.

Full Registration: Full registration will enable doctors to work in any field provided they have the license to work there.

For a doctor to take up a consultant qualification, he or she must have a specialist registration while those wishing to work as GPs must be on the GP register.

Foreign-trained doctors qualified outside the UK may be able to apply directly for full registration after completing a postgraduate clinical internship and holding an acceptable primary medical qualification.

For the registration process to be completed, all doctors are required to visit the GMC in person to undergo a pre-registration identity check.

Only original documents can be accepted. A photograph of the doctor will be taken and this will be made available to employers so they can be assured of the doctor’s identity.

Graduates and foreign medical graduates new to full registration or returning to the practice register following an absence from practice are required to work within an approved practice setting (APS) deemed appropriate by the GMC.

When EEA graduate doctors first begin work in the UK under full registration, the GMC recommends they also work in an APS.

Most NHS employers have approved practice setting status, and the purpose of the APS system is to protect the public.

It might appear too much of a process, but if you want to become a doctor in the UK as a foreigner, then you should avail yourself to take these listed steps.

Further information on APS can be found on the GMC website.

Specialist Registration

The General Medical Council (GMC) requires that all consultants (except locum consultants) be registered as specialists. To become a registered specialist, doctors must complete a GMC-approved training program.

After completion of the specialist program, they will issue you any of the certificates below.

To be eligible for inclusion on the specialist register, doctors who have not completed a full GMC-approved training program must make an application under the General and Specialist Medical Practice Order.

GP Registration: In the UK, from 1 April 2006, all doctors working in general practice in the NHS (apart from doctors in training, such as GP registrars) must be registered on the GP Register. This requirement extends to locums as well.

English language proficiency: Doctor jobs in the UK for overseas doctors require you to prove to the GMC your proficiency in English. This may be shown through the International Language Test System (IELTS) or the Occupational English Test (OET).


In the IELTS, candidates will need to show that they meet the GMC’s requirements in the academic version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, which covers four main areas:

  • speaking
  • listening
  • reading
  • writing

To become a member of the GMC’s register, candidates must score at least 7.5 on the IELTS. For more information, please visit the IELTS website.

OET: OET as an alternative to IELTS introduced by the UK in 2018. In the healthcare sector, OET is an international English language test designed specifically to assess the language communication skills of healthcare professionals hoping to register in an English-speaking environment and perform their duties there.

Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB)

We cannot give a full description of  How to become a Doctor in the UK for Foreigners if we cannot talk about the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB).

The PLAB test is used by the GMC to determine whether international doctors have the required medical knowledge and communication skills to practice in the UK. Doctors taking the PLAB test must have passed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Occupational English Test (OET)

Further information on the PLAB test, including dates, test centers, and costs, can be gotten from the GMC’s website.

Candidates can take the PLAB’s first part at several overseas test centers, but they must take the second part in the UK.

What You Should About UK Recruitment for Foreign Doctors

As part of the Department of Health and Social Care code of practice, many NHS organizations engage agencies to help with overseas recruitment campaigns. It is clear in the code that active recruitment from developing countries is unethical.

Additionally, the code of practice states that candidates should not be required to pay a fee upfront. If you are asked to pay a fee upfront for promises of NHS housing or work, please contact Action Fraud.


With the length of the process involved in becoming a doctor in the UK as a foreigner, one might be quick to give up on it.

Apart from the high wage doctors in the UK earn, they are equally among those with the highest compensation in incentives.

Therefore, at the end of the day, you will discover it was all worth it. Because of the numerous registrations, picking one might appear quite lengthy that is why we advise you to check the GMC website for information on how to the best registration that suits your specialization.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can Foreign Doctors Work in the UK? A doctor who is not practicing medicine in the UK or who practices overseas can still choose to hold registration without a license to show they are in good standing.

Can I work in the UK without PLAB? There is now a possibility of getting a job in the UK as a doctor without PLAB! The new regulations announced by the General Medical Council, UK, make a job in the UK for doctors possible.

How do I move to the UK as a doctor? A doctor who is a member of the European Economic Area can work legally in the UK. You do not need a visa or a job offer to work in the UK as a doctor.

However, you do need to pass an English language test. Non-EAA countries will have to process visas and do the necessary test requirements.


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