Regulating doctors, ensuring good medical practice

Acceptable overseas medical qualifications

This page is for overseas medical students, doctors and medical schools and explains which qualifications are acceptable for the purposes of sitting the PLAB test and obtaining registration with a licence to practise.

Does this apply to me?

You will need to send us evidence to prove that your overseas qualification is acceptable if it is not a UK or EEA qualification. This applies equally to UK, EEA and overseas nationals.

Please refer to our Glossary of Terms to see what we mean by a UK and EEA qualification.

What makes an overseas qualification acceptable?

To be eligible to sit the PLAB test or apply for GMC registration, you must hold an ‘acceptable overseas qualification’. An acceptable overseas qualification meets all the criteria approved by our General Council. A qualification which does not meet all of the criteria cannot be accepted. The criteria are set out below:

  1. a. It must be a primary medical qualification in allopathic medicine that :
    1. i. has been awarded by an institution listed on the Avicenna Directory for Medicine, the World Directory of Medical Schools, or on the International Medical Education Directory (IMED)

      OR

    2. ii. is otherwise acceptable to the GMC

      AND in all cases

    3. iii. Is currently acceptable to the GMC.
  2. b. Where a qualification is not listed in the directories it will be otherwise acceptable to the GMC only where the reason that it is not listed is because:
    1. i. the country, under whose auspices the qualification is issued, is not recognised by the United Nations

      OR

    2. ii. the qualification is a primary European qualification

      AND, in either case

    3. iii. the qualification was awarded by an institution that either no longer exists or no longer delivers medical education and the GMC can be satisfied as to the veracity of the individual's qualification

      AND, in each of the above circumstances the qualification satisfies all of the other criteria for an acceptable overseas qualification.

  3. c. Where relevant, the institution listed in the directories must have sufficient contact details (address or email address or fax number or telephone number) to allow verification of the qualifications it has issued.
  4. d. It must have been awarded after a programme of study comprising at least 5,500 hours over a minimum period of three years. For this purpose a programme of study will:
    1. i. Exclude study at an institution where the student was considered unsuitable to qualify as a doctor and has either been refused graduation or perhaps offered an alternative degree title.
    2. ii. Exclude study at an institution which is not currently, or was not at the time of the student’s studies there, acceptable to the GMC.
  5. e. It must not have involved a programme of study where more than 50% of that study (compared to the standard duration of the qualification) has been undertaken outside the country that awarded the qualification. The only circumstance where this criterion may be disapplied is where the awarding body relocates to another country making it impossible for specific cohorts of graduates to have completed at least 50% of the standard course of study in the country where the institution is based when their qualification is awarded.
  6. f. It must not have involved following a programme of study where more than 25% of that study (compared to the standard duration of the qualification calculated using total hours of study) has been undertaken by distance learning. Distance learning will include learning by correspondence, using the internet or online learning methods, self-directed learning and any training or learning which is undertaken other than on a face-to-face basis.
  7. g. Where the qualification held by an applicant fails to satisfy any one or more of the above criteria that application must be refused (on the grounds that the applicant does not hold an acceptable overseas qualification).

Qualifications which meet the above criteria are currently acceptable for the purposes of taking the PLAB test and applying for GMC registration but that does not necessarily mean that they will always be acceptable. Please read the ‘Important notes’ section below.

Qualifications which are not acceptable

On this list we include qualifications which we do not accept. You can check details of unacceptable qualifications on the ‘Overseas medical qualifications not accepted by the GMC’ webpage.

If your qualification is on this list you will not be able to sit the PLAB test or apply for GMC registration.

Qualifications which may be acceptable

On this list we include qualifications where we know that the qualification is acceptable for some, but not all, graduates. We need to undertake further checks before we can decide whether the qualification awarded to the particular graduate meets our criteria. Whether or not a qualification is acceptable may depend on the arrangements that applied to the individual graduate.

You can check details of qualifications that may be acceptable on the ‘Overseas medical qualifications which may be accepted by the GMC’ webpage. The webpage also includes information about why certain qualifications and medical schools are listed here and what you need to do if you are thinking about applying to sit the PLAB test or for GMC registration.

Qualifications currently under investigation

On this list we include details of qualifications where we have received information which suggests that the qualification may not meet our criteria. You can check details of qualifications under investigation on the ‘qualifications under investigation’ webpage.

If your qualification is on this list you will not be able to sit the PLAB test or apply for GMC registration.

Important notes

The criteria defining an acceptable overseas qualification may change from time to time. The fact that a qualification meets the criteria currently does not mean that it will be acceptable in future.

Similarly, qualifications included on the lists referred to above may also change. It is important to be clear that the fact that a qualification is not included on one of the above lists does not mean that it is acceptable to the GMC.

Whether a qualification is acceptable will be decided at the point of dealing with an application for registration. It does not happen often but it could mean, for example, that a qualification which allowed a doctor to sit the PLAB test may not be acceptable at the point at which the application for registration is decided.

The information on this page is subject to change. You are advised to check these pages regularly for up to date information on qualifications which are not currently acceptable. Any application to sit the PLAB test or for registration will be assessed in line with the legislation, procedures and criteria in place at the time such an application is received.