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The licence to practise

The licence to practise is a licence to work as a doctor in the UK.

Doctors who want to practise medicine in the UK legally need a licence. The licence gives a doctor the legal authority to undertake certain activities in the UK. For example writing a prescription, signing a death certificate and holding certain medical posts (such as working as a doctor in the NHS).

Any doctor who wants to carry out an activity for which a licence is needed must be registered with a licence to practise. This applies whether the doctor is working full time or part time, in the NHS or in the independent sector, employed or self employed, or working as a locum.

The licence to practise regulations only apply in the UK (and crown dependencies). Doctors who do not work in the UK, or who do not undertake any activities for which a licence is required, do not need to hold a licence to practise. They can be registered without a licence.

Revalidation and the licence to practise

All licensed doctors must demonstrate on an ongoing basis that they are up to date and fit to practise in their chosen field and able to provide a good level of care. This means that the licence to practise is no longer simply the recognition of a doctor’s qualifications at a point in time. It is becoming an indicator that the doctor continues to meet the professional standards set by the GMC and the specialists standard set by the medical Royal Colleges and Faculties. Licensed doctors must provide evidence to demonstrate how they continue to meet these standards. The process of checking this evidence is called ‘revalidation’.

Every licensed doctor must have an annual appraisal based on our core guidance Good medical practice. They must collect supporting information about their practice so they can discuss this with their appraiser and reflect on their practice.

If a doctor does not engage with revalidation, their licence will be at risk and we may take steps to remove it.

Read more about revalidation.

We have more information about the licence to practise:

Want to give up or restore your licence?

We have guidance on giving up and restoring your licence to help you make your application.