Brexit – Information for doctors

On the 31 December 2020, the Brexit transition period will end. This follows the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU)

From the 1 January 2021, the registration process for some doctors with non-UK qualifications will change.

The type of application and evidence they’ll need to provide to register will depend on their medical qualifications, rather than their nationality. Nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) will no longer benefit from automatic recognition of professional qualifications.

We’ll update our registration pages in January 2021 with step by step instructions on what doctors will need to do. In the meantime, we hope the information below will answer some of the questions that doctors may have if they’re considering working in the UK, or in Europe, in the future.

If you have any other questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Where we refer to the European Economic Area (EEA), this includes all countries within the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Will the end of transition period affect doctors from Europe already on the UK medical register?

The registration status of doctors from the EEA with provisional or full registration in the UK won’t change. They can continue practising as they are now, after the transition period ends.

If doctors have a different type of registration, such as temporary and occasional, we’ll contact them to discuss the options available to them. We will email these doctors soon; there is no need to contact us.

How will EEA and Swiss nationals join the UK medical register after the transition period?

EEA nationals with relevant European qualifications will still be able to register with us in a timely and streamlined way. But they’ll need to have their qualifications independently verified before we can grant registration. 

EEA nationals who qualified outside of the EEA, or who don’t have relevant European qualifications, will need to apply for registration via our overseas registration processes.

The UK and Switzerland have signed a Citizens’ Rights Agreement, so Swiss nationals and any dependents or spouses with acquired rights in Switzerland will be able to apply for registration with us as they do now, for at least the next four years.

Please contact us if you have any questions about relevant European qualifications.

How will the end of the transition period affect doctors who’ve started, but not yet submitted, an application to join the UK medical register?

If doctors complete and submit their application before the 31 December 2020, they won’t be affected by these changes.

Applications submitted after this date will be processed based on the doctor’s qualifications, rather than their nationality. This may mean the type of application and evidence they’ll need to provide to register may change. We’ll soon contact doctors with an in-progress application to update them on their options and to confirm what will happen next.

We’ll also contact doctors who may be eligible to apply via a different route from 1 January 2021, to discuss the options available to them.

How will non-EEA nationals who qualified in the EEA join the UK medical register after the transition period?

Non-EEA nationals with a relevant primary medical qualification, or a specialist or GP qualification issued in the EEA, may no longer need to apply through our existing overseas routes. From 1 January, our route planner will guide them through the application process most relevant to them.

If doctors submit their application on or before 31 December 2020, their application will be processed under our existing overseas route. They won’t need to amend their application or contact us.

Are there any changes for how non-EEA nationals with non-EEA qualifications register with you?

No. There won’t be any change to the routes to registration for these doctors. They will need to apply via our overseas routes as they do now.

Will there be any changes for UK doctors who want to work in Europe after the transition period?

Most EEA countries will no longer automatically recognise qualifications from the UK.

After 31 December 2020, doctors with a UK qualification will have to apply to work in an EEA country in the same way as an applicant from outside the EU does. Processes differ from country to country, so doctors need to contact the regulator in the country they wish to work in, to find out how they can register. You can find the contact details for the different regulators on our EEA countries page.