Becoming a doctor in the UK: with a postgraduate qualification

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from all over the world relocate to the UK to be able to continue their career as a doctor within the NHS. The process can be quite lengthy and unique to the individual depending on the steps which you have taken in your career so far. The first milestone in the process is getting a licence to practise to be able to carry out certain activities such as prescribing medicines and treating patients. The organisation that reviews and issues all types of registrations is the General Medical Council (GMC) and this applies to all doctors whether they are working for the NHS, privately as a substantive or locum doctor.

The requirements for registration in the UK will depend on several factors:

  • your nationality
  • the country in which you gained your primary medical qualification
  • the type of work you want to do
  • whether or not you have completed a period of post-graduate training or an internship

In addition, international medical graduates (IMGs) will be required to demonstrate their medical knowledge and skills, and all applicants may have to demonstrate they are competent in using the English language before they are registered.

The purpose of this article is to outline the most common route that overseas doctors take to relocate to the UK when applying for full registration with a licence to practice. There are links to articles with more in-depth information available surrounding each stage of the journey.

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Route with a postgraduate qualification

Step 1

You must have completed your primary medical qualification. If your primary medical qualification is from outside of the UK and not a relevant European qualification, you will need to make sure it is accepted in the UK. You will need to get these qualifications independently EPIC verified.

Step 2

You need to check if the GMC accepts your postgraduate medical qualification. If your qualification is not accepted, you will need to apply via another route. The qualification will need to have been awarded within the last three years. If you have one of the postgraduate qualifications listed, the GMC can accept that as evidence that you have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to apply for full registration with a licence to practice. 

Learn more about postgraduate medical qualification requirements here

Step 3

You will need to demonstrate evidence of the necessary knowledge of English to the GMC. This could be through IELTS or OET. Alternatively, If you are a national of a country where English is the first and native language, and you were awarded your primary medical degree from a country where English is the first and native language the above does not apply to you.

Learn more about IELTS and OET

Step 4

You will need to send your passport and certificates of good standing for each medical regulatory authority you’ve been registered or licenced with for the last five years to the GMC. Each certificate is only valid for three months from the date it is signed, and it must valid when they approve your application.

Step 5

You will have to email the GMC your medical and non-medical experience for the last 5 years including unemployment, clinical attachments, maternity leave, study leave, vacation, and career breaks.

Step 6

Once you have completed steps 1-5 you can apply for your licence to practise with the GMC. 

After you have ensured you have all of the documentation for a valid registration with the GMC you will need to start looking for a job in the UK. You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

You can apply for roles directly with the NHS or utilise the skills and expertise of a third party to guide you through the application process and secure your job interviews. Pulse has an experienced and fast-growing permanent division that specialises in supporting international doctors during the entire relocation process. You can register with Pulse or contact the team today if you’d like them to help you find a job in the UK or have any questions on

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