Routes to General Medical Council (GMC) Registration

Updated December 2016

This page has information about the different routes to GMC registration for those doctors who don't have or aren't working towards a CCT. 

All doctors must be registered with the GMC in order to practise in the UK. There are different types of GMC registration depending on what kind of job you're going to work in, and different routes to getting registered. 

Full registration on the GMC medical register is required to take up any post except as a permanent NHS consultant (so this will include Fellowships, registrar posts and locum consultant posts).   If your aim is to work as a permanent NHS consultant, then you will also need to be registered on the GMC specialist register.

When deciding how to apply for GMC registration, you should consider what you plan to do in the UK.  When you apply for or enquire after jobs, you may find that it’s helpful to have established how you will obtain GMC registration and to have started the process. 

What's set out below are the ways in which you can demonstrate the appropriate level of knowledge and skills for full or specialist registration.  The GMC will also ask for other evidence to support your application - for example, evidence of your English language skills and evidence of an internship period.

Please note - These processes are established by the GMC, in accordance with UK law. The RCR has no authority to request or persuade the GMC to deviate from them. If you need to use one of these routes to apply for registration (or you want to employ someone who does), then you should look at the options at the earliest possible opportunity as some of them can take several months to complete.

Automatic mutual recognition of medical and specialist qualifications

Doctors who are either EEA nationals or have European Community rights, and have a primary qualification acceptable to the GMC and/or certain EEA specialist qualifications, may be eligible for automatic mutual recognition of their qualifications by the GMC, for entry to the medical register and/or specialist register.  Please see the GMC website for information about applying for mutual recognition and about mutual recognition for specialist registration

For those not eligible for automatic mutual recognition of their qualifications, there are the following options - 

GMC medical registration

The PLAB test

The most common way to show that you have the appropriate level of knowledge and skill for full GMC registration is to pass the test conducted by the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (the PLAB test). 

If you don't intend to work as a permanent NHS consultant, or if you are not yet ready to make an application for specialist registration, then this may be a good route for you to consider to allow you to take up an appropriate job. 

Award of approved postgraduate qualifications (PGQ)

The FRCR (clinical radiology and clinical oncology), the FRANZCR in radiology (Australia/New Zealand) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada diagnostic radiology examination are acceptable to apply for full registration.  These must be registered with the GMC within three years of their award.

If you hold one of these qualifications from more than three years ago you may still be eligible to apply for registration on this basis and you should contact the GMC in the first instance for advice on how to proceed.

These qualifications do not give entry to the specialist register.

Sponsorship by an approved sponsor

The RCR has sponsorship schemes for clinical radiology and clinical oncology for full registration, for overseas doctors who want to undertake a period of specialty training in the UK.  RCR sponsorship must also include an appropriate visa (Tier 5). Our sponsorship only applies to training posts for a maximum of two years, after which the doctor is expected to return to their home country. There are restrictions on those eligible to apply for sponsorship – please see the specific radiology or oncology information for details. You must have been offered a post in the UK before the sponsorship process starts; the RCR doesn't match applicants to available posts, so we can't find a suitable post for you. 

The PLAB test remains the usual route through which IMGs may obtain GMC registration.  GMC registration through PLAB (or one of the approved postgraduate qualifications) may give you more immediate employment options than obtaining registration through our sponsorship route. Sponsorship is an exceptional route to GMC registration and will limit you as to what post you can take up and for how long.

The GMC also has a list of approved sponsors for the purpose of GMC full registration GMC approved sponsors  - sponsorship for GMC registration by these bodies is a matter between the sponsoring organisations and the GMC.


GMC specialist registration

Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) 

A successful CESR application gives entry to the specialist register and to the medical register (without the PLAB test).

You must demonstrate that your specialist training and/or specialist qualifications and/or specialist experience are equivalent to the requirements of the UK training curriculum.  Further information about the application process and what evidence you need to provide is available for clinical radiology applicants and clinical oncology applicants

If you have further queries you can contact the GMC's registrations team or the RCR for informal advice. Please attach your CV when contacting the RCR.