Registration and licensing requirements

Doctors must be registered with a licence to practise, to work as a doctor in the UK. Employers and healthcare providers must make sure that their doctors hold appropriate registration for their role, type of post or practice. 

Roles requiring a licence to practise

The Medical Act states that doctors who: 

  • write prescriptions; 
  • sign death certificates or other types of medical certificates such as cremation certificates; 
  • or assess the mental health of patients and recommends compulsory treatment, 
    must hold a licence to practise. 

The Act also outlines other activities where a doctor must hold a licence . As well as the Medical Act, there are many other pieces of legislation that set out when a doctor must hold a licence.

For roles that fall outside of these areas, we advise doctors to seek advice from their employer (or the organisation contracting/using their services) about whether a licence is needed for their work. 

We have developed a list of discussion points to work through together for this purpose. We recommend that contracts and job descriptions state whether the doctor needs to hold a licence to undertake the role. 

It’s important to remind doctors in training that they must have a licence to practise to hold a national training number. 

Employing a doctor who holds registration only  

A doctor who holds registration only can apply for a job that requires them to have a licence, and you shouldn’t be deterred from offering them a role. The doctor can apply to restore their licence, which can be relatively straightforward. If you decide to make an offer of employment, you should:

  • make sure the doctor has the qualifications and experience needed for the role
  • remind the doctor that they must have restored their licence to practise before they can start work check the doctor’s registration status on our online medical register.
  • Find out more about the different types of registration
  • Find out more about the licence to practise