FAQs about giving up your registration

Why do I have to apply to give up my registration instead of just asking you to take my name off the register? 

The law says you must. But there is more to it than that. You need to apply to give up your registration because we have to check that all doctors leaving the register voluntarily are fit to practise. We ask the same of doctors applying to join the register. This helps to maintain the integrity of the profession. We do this by asking for written statements from you, any relevant employers and any overseas regulators that you have been registered or licensed with in the past five years. Our application form will help you give us these statements in the format we need.

Why do I have to show I am fit to practise if I am leaving the register? 

We have to guard against the remote possibility that a doctor might try to leave the register to evade our fitness to practise procedures. We also have to be able to certify that a doctor who is no longer registered was still in good standing up to the point when they left the register. Doctors often need to be able to demonstrate this to other regulators and employers.

I am planning on working outside the UK as a doctor next year. Can I apply to give up my registration before this? What will happen to the registration fees I have already paid? 

You can apply up to three months before the date on which you want to leave the register. Applying in advance means you will not have to pay any fees that become due while we deal with your application, but you will still have to pay the processing fee. And, usually, you will get a refund of any unused proportion of your annual fee when your application is granted. Please see our fees page for information on our current fees.

I may need to provide evidence of my good standing to other medical regulators when I apply for registration outside the UK. Will you certify my good standing after I leave the register?

Yes. We can usually issue a certificate of your past good standing after you leave the register.

But if you think you will need a certificate of current good standing, or if you are leaving UK medical practice for a short period, it might be better for you to stay registered and give up your licence to practise.

This is also a good option if you are working overseas for any length of time. You probably will not need a licence while you are out of the UK. But you might want to keep your registration for professional credibility, or because your overseas employer requires it. 

The GMC is investigating a complaint about me and I have applied to give up my registration – will information about my application be shared with anyone?

If you apply to give up your registration while we are investigating a complaint about you, we will notify the person who made the complaint. We do this because if your application is granted, the complaint will be closed.

What are the pros and cons of holding registration without a licence to practise? 

If you give up your licence to practise, you cannot do any of the things reserved by law for licensed doctors. For example, prescribing prescription-only medicines and signing certain statutory certificates.

But it does mean:

  • you will pay a reduced annual fee
  • you will be able to show that you continue to be in good standing with the GMC
  • you will not need to revalidate.

If you decide you need a licence to practise at any point, the process for applying for a licence again is straightforward. Please read our guide on applying for a licence.

If I choose to give up my registration, can I get it back in the future?

Yes. You will need to apply for restoration. You can choose whether to restore with or without a licence to practise. You can find out more on our restoration guide.

Can I still use the title ‘Dr’ after I give up my registration or licence to practise?

Yes. There is no reason why you should not. This is a result of your medical qualification. But it is against the law to present yourself as registered, with or without a licence.

If I give up my registration, how will people know I am a doctor?

Your name will still appear in our searchable online register even after you leave the register. Your status will be ‘Not registered - having relinquished registration’.

We do this because the register is an important public record. Patients and others need to be able to see details of doctors who were registered in the past, but they cannot refer to previous volumes of the register now that it is no longer published in paper form.

If I give up my registration or my licence to practise, will I still be able to offer support or care in an emergency?

Yes, you may still help out in emergencies (sometimes called ‘Good Samaritan’ acts). Any concerned citizen can offer help, whether they are medically qualified or not.

If you are registered but don’t have a licence to practise, you will need to bear in mind that Good medical practice says:

‘You must offer help if emergencies arise in clinical settings or in the community, taking account of your own safety, your competence and the availability of other options for care.’

We recommend that you check with your medical defence organisation or insurer if you are worried about potential liabilities if you offer help when you are unregistered or registered without a licence to practise.

Can I write prescriptions without registration or a licence to practise?

If you think you will need to prescribe prescription-only medicines at any time, you need to keep both your registration and your licence to practise. And that in turn means that you will need to revalidate.

The law says that only doctors who are registered with a licence to practise can prescribe prescription-only medicines. The main legislation that applies is the Medicines Act 1968.