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Knowledge of English - International medical graduates

Important notes:

This page is for international medical graduates applying for registration with a licence to practise. We have specific guidance for PLAB candidates about the evidence needed to demonstrate knowledge of English.

All International Medical Graduate applicants must have the necessary knowledge of English at the point that registration is approved. This means that even if you have previously held provisional registration, we will assess your English language when you apply for full registration. We will let you know if you need to demonstrate your skills in one of the ways outlined in this guidance.

Please note that Doctors applying through sponsorship are required to demonstrate their English language skills by achieving our current minimum scores in the academic version of the IELTS test (details in this section).

Please be aware that achievement of IELTS for the purpose of applying for registration with the GMC may not be acceptable evidence of your English language skills for the purpose of obtaining a UK Visa. We recommend you visit the UK Visa and Immigration website to check their requirements.

Demonstrating your Knowledge of English

When you apply for registration with a licence to practise (or your first licence if you’ve previously held registration), we need to be satisfied you have the necessary knowledge of English to communicate effectively so you do not put the safety of your patients at risk. Communicating includes, speaking, reading, writing and listening.

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

We will consider evidence of knowledge of English only if it meets our 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 by us through contact with recognised medical institutions, regulators or other official bodies.

The easiest way to do this is to take the academic version of the IELTS test and meet our minimum scores.

We accept:

OR

  • Where your PMQ is less than two years old at the point you apply for registration, an original letter or certificate from the institution where you qualified that confirms:

            a) all of the course, including clinical activities, were taught and examined solely in English

and

            b) 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

and

            c) the date you passed your final examination.

and

  • confirmation as to whether you have ever taken the academic IELTS test.

OR

  • Original references from all your employers over the last two years, outlining your English language capability in a country where English is the first and native language. Please use the English language reference form (pdf)

    and

OR

  • Other evidence that meets our criteria, considered at our discretion.

For example, a pass in a language test for registration with a medical regulatory authority in a country where English is the first and native language, taken within the two years preceding your application for registration

    and

If your test was taken more than two years ago, we will ask you for evidence that you have practised in a country, where English is the first and native language, immediately preceding your application for registration. You should give us original references from all your employers over the last two years outlining your English language capability. Please use the English language reference form (pdf)

OR

  • An offer of employment from a UK healthcare organisation which is a designated body (please check our list of designated bodies) and where we receive:

 

  • a copy of the offer in writing  

                and

  • a completed English language reference form (pdf) from the appointing clinician which includes confirmation from the Responsible Officer that the recruitment process has made sure that the applicant has the necessary knowledge of English to practise safely in the UK. 

 

Evidence from a country where English is the first and native language

We do not accept evidence of secondary or non-medical University education completed in a country where English is the first and native language to be sufficient on its own to demonstrate language capability for safe practice in the UK. This is because this type of evidence does not demonstrate the ability to read, write, speak and interact with patients, relatives and healthcare professionals in English. If the evidence relates to secondary education, it will be beyond what we accept as recent.

We can consider this type of evidence if it is accompanied by further recent evidence which meets our criteria, and demonstrates that you have maintained your language skills in all four areas (reading, writing, speaking and listening). For example, a completed English language reference form relating to the completion of clinical attachments in a country where English is the first and native language.

You can read our detailed guidance for more information about the evidence requirements for demonstrating knowledge of English.