Routes to General Medical Council (GMC) Registration

Updated July 2017

All doctors must be registered with the GMC to practise in the UK. There are different types of GMC registration depending on what kind of job you're going to do, and different ways of applying for registration. When you apply for jobs, you will find that it’s helpful to have obtained GMC registration, or at least thought about how you will apply and to have started the process. 

You must have full registration on the medical register to take up any post except as a substantive (permanent), honorary or fixed term NHS consultant (so this includes training posts and locum consultant posts).  

You must also be on the specialist register to take up a job as a substantive (permanent), honorary or fixed term NHS consultant.

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

You should look at the options as early as possible as some of them can take several months to complete.  Whatever way you choose, you need to make your application to the GMC, not to the RCR. 

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 medical registration and specialist registration

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

To apply for full 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 to registration to allow you to take up an appropriate job. 

  •  An approved postgraduate qualification (PGQ)

The following PGQs are currently acceptable to apply for full registration -

- FRCR (clinical radiology and clinical oncology)

- FRANZCR in radiology (Australia/New Zealand)

- FC Rad Diag(SA) (South Africa)

- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada diagnostic radiology examination

- ABR in diagnostic radiology (USA). 

These should usually 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 with it,  and you should contact the GMC in the first instance for advice on how to proceed.

These qualifications don't automatically give entry to the specialist register and don't change the application processes for specialist registration.

  •  Sponsorship by an approved sponsor

The aim of our sponsorship scheme is to help overseas doctors access training which might not be otherwise available to them in their home country.

We only sponsor those doctors to take up supervised training posts in the UK.  There are other eligibility requirements and both you and the job you're offered must meet them – please see the specific information for clinical radiology and clinical oncology and discuss it with your UK employer. ​

If you've been offered a suitable training post in the UK, the RCR may be able to sponsor you for full GMC registration so that you can take up that training opportunity.  RCR sponsorship must also include a Tier 5 visa. Our sponsorship only applies to training posts for up to two years, after which you must return to your home country under the Tier 5 visa.   

You must have been offered a training post in the UK before the sponsorship process starts; we can't find one for you. 

Sponsorship is an exceptional route to GMC registration and will limit you as to what job you can take up and for how long. GMC registration through PLAB (or one of the approved postgraduate qualifications) may give you more immediate employment options than registration through our sponsorship scheme. 

The GMC has a list of all its approved sponsors - sponsorship for GMC registration by anyone other than the RCR is a matter between them and the GMC.

To apply for 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.