Working with doctors Working for patients

Knowledge of English – European doctors

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 before we grant your licence. Communicating includes speaking, reading, writing and listening.

We will look at the information in your application and we may ask you to give us evidence that you have the necessary knowledge of English

You can read our detailed guidance, including the legislation which gives us the powers to ask for evidence and the types of evidence we may accept, for background and more information.

If we ask you for this evidence, and:

  • you do not send it to us

    or

  • we are not satisfied with it

We will approve you for registration without a licence. You will not be able to practise medicine in the UK without a licence.

You should send us your evidence when we ask for it. You must submit it at least 10 working days before your ID check. If it meets our requirements, we will grant you both registration and a licence.

If you do not submit your evidence before your ID check, the only evidence we will be able to verify on the day of your ID check is a valid IELTS certificate that meets our criteria.

OR

You can make a separate application for a licence to practise after your registration is granted at the ID check. You will still need to give us the evidence of your knowledge of English if we asked you for it before.

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

We will consider evidence of knowledge of English only where 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.

See the list of universities from which we will not accept English language evidence.

Please note that above applies only if your PMQ is less than two years old at the point of application.

  • OR

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

    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 the first and native language is English

If it is older than two years we will ask you for evidence that you have practised as a medical practitioner 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 for doctors with UK job offers 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 as 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 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.