Working as a doctor in the UK

Practising medicine in the UK

To practise medicine in the UK you need to hold registration with a licence to practise. Holding a licence allows you to, for example, prescribe medicine and treat patients. If you hold a licence you must also show us your knowledge and skills are up to date through regular checks on your practice, known as revalidation.

Doctors who are not practising medicine or who practise overseas can choose to hold registration without a licence to show they continue to be in good standing with us. This shows that they continue to follow the principles and standards of Good medical practice.

Doctors must be clear whether they are licensed, hold registration only, or neither. It is a criminal offence in the UK for a doctor to give the impression they hold registration or a licence, if they don't.

To stay on the register, as well as following Good medical practice, you'll need to keep your contact details up to date and pay an annual fee

Getting a job as a doctor in the UK

The UK welcomes doctors of all grades and experience.

When you apply for a job, employers will check you are appropriately qualified, experienced and can communicate effectively in English. It is worthwhile checking the job opportunities before you start to make an application to join the UK medical register. You may find it hard to get work as a doctor if you have been away from medical practice for a long time.

We do not hold information about job vacancies. But there are a number of other places you can try – for example:

NHS – the national health service covering England and Wales

NHS Scotland – the national health service covering Scotland

Health and social care in Northern Ireland

British Medical Journal – job section – professional online network for doctors

These sites will also give you an idea of the types of jobs available.

Help for international medical graduates

Vacancies for doctors vary by specialty and geographic location and change over time. Many roles in General Practice and a range of specialisms require applicants to have undertaken additional training and qualifications to be eligible. Overseas doctors interested in working in the UK should investigate the opportunities available via the links above, before making any firm commitments, arrangements or incurring any expense.

NHS Employers have created a guide for international medical graduates: Working and training in the NHS

This provides a range of information for doctors from outside the European Economic Area, including:

  • immigration requirements 
  • access to UK training 
  • pay and conditions 
  • evidence of right to work permissions.  

If you are new to working in the UK, find out about our free workshops, Welcome to UK practice