The licence to practise

To practise medicine in the UK all doctors are required by law to be registered and hold a licence to practise.

The licence to practise gives a doctor the legal authority to undertake certain activities in the UK, for example prescribing, signing death or cremation certificates and holding certain medical posts (such as working as a doctor in the NHS).

Doctors who carry out any activity in the UK for which a licence is legally required must be registered with a licence to practise. This applies whether doctors practise full time, part time, as a locum, privately or in the NHS, or whether they are employed or self-employed.

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’.

Read more about revalidation.

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 continue to be registered without a licence.

This section contains the following information:

This section does not contain information about applications for a licence to practise.

Read about applications for a licence, relinquishing a licence and restoring a licence.