Guidance for European doctors applying for registration with a licence to practise

Why do you need evidence of my knowledge of English?

1. We need to be sure that you can communicate effectively in English so that you can treat patients and practise safely in the UK.
2. This means that you need to be able to speak and write in English, understand people when they speak to you in English, and understand documents written in English.
3. Our core guidance Good medical practice states that doctors ‘must have the necessary knowledge of the English language to provide a good standard of practice and care in the UK’.

Who does the guidance apply to?

4. You’ll need to demonstrate your knowledge of English if you are: 

  • a European doctor applying for registration with a licence to practise
  • applying for your first licence to practise if you have ever held registration or currently hold registration only.

This guidance is unlikely to apply to you if you:

  • are a national of, and have graduated in a country where English is the first and native language.
  • have previously held a licence to practise.

What evidence will be considered?

5. You can give us any evidence that you feel demonstrates your knowledge of English.

6. All evidence you send us will be considered by a decision maker who will decide whether it demonstrates that you have sufficient knowledge of English.

7. We know that language skills start to deteriorate if not used regularly. The evidence you give us should demonstrate your current English language skills. We are more likely to accept evidence which is recent, by which we mean it is less than two years old at the point you submit your application. If your evidence is not recent, it’s more likely to be accepted if it’s supported by additional evidence showing that you have kept your English Language Skills up to date, for example a reference from an employer, or evidence of having worked recently in a country where English is the first and native language.

8. There are certain types of evidence that are more likely to satisfy the decision maker about your knowledge of English and we’ve set them out below:

Taking an English Language test

You have taken the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) You have taken the Occupational English Test (OET)
The academic version of the test The medicine version of the test
You achieved a score of at least 7.0 in each testing area and an overall score of 7.5 You achieved at least a grade of B in each testing area
 You achieved the scores in the same test
 You achieved the scores in your most recent sitting of the test

 

9. If you took IELTS, please provide us with your Test Report Form (TRF) number, or if you took OET, please provide your candidate number. 
10. If you took your test some time ago it’s more likely to be accepted if you can show that you’ve kept your English skills up to date by sending us your IELTS test form report number or your OET candidate number and 

11. We recognise that alternative language tests are available and we will consider accepting suitable alternatives to ILETS or OET if we can be confident that these methods provide the necessary assurance of your English language capability.

A primary medical qualification 

12. Your primary medical qualification may be acceptable evidence of your knowledge of English if it was taught and examined solely in English.

13. We’ll be more likely to decide that it demonstrates your knowledge of English if you send us an original letter or certificate from your university or medical college that confirms:

  • all of the course, including clinical activities, was taught and examined solely in English and
  • at least 75% of any course related clinical interaction, including personal contact with patients, their families and other healthcare professionals, was conducted in English and
  • the date you passed your final exam.

14. If you passed your exam some time ago, we’ll be more likely to decide that you’ve maintained your English language skills if you send original references from all your work experience in the last two years from countries where English is the first and native language.

A reference from an employer 

15. If you’ve recently worked in a country where English is the first and native language we may be able to accept confirmation from your employer that your English language skills are sufficient. 
16. We’ll be more likely to decide that the evidence demonstrates your knowledge of English if you obtain an English language reference from your employer that confirms you have worked in a medical capacity for at least the past two years, in a country where English is the first and native language
17. Please send the reference(s) to us along with confirmation of whether you have ever taken the academic version of the IELTS test or the medicine version of the OET test to us. If you have ever taken either test, please provide your TRF number for IELTS or your candidate number for OET.

A UK job offer 

18. You can use an offer of employment and an assessment of your English language skills from a UK healthcare organisation as evidence. Please note that the organisation should be a designated body. View list of designated bodies.

19. You will need to send us a completed English language reference form from the doctor or consultant who appointed you that has been endorsed by the responsible officer at the employing organisation.

Other evidence of knowledge of English 

20. You can give us any evidence that you feel demonstrates your knowledge of English. All evidence you send us will be considered by a decision maker who will decide whether it demonstrates that you have sufficient knowledge of English. 
21. For example, you may submit:

  • a pass in a language test for registration with a medical regulatory authority in a country where English is the first and native language.
  • Please note that we’ll be more likely to decide that this evidence demonstrates your knowledge of English if this test was taken recently, or if you have continued to work in that country since you took the test. 

22. Read our overarching Evidence of English language skills: Guidance for European doctors applying for a licence to practise. If you have any other evidence that you’d like us to consider but are unsure if we will accept it, please contact us for help and advice.