The UK is known for its robust healthcare system, so if you want to immigrate to the UK as a doctor, now is the chance. But this adventure comes with its own set of challenges. This article will tell you the essential steps and procedures for foreigners to immigrate and practice medicine in the UK. Keep reading to learn about the requirements, recognition and visa process, and salary of doctors in the UK.
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Immigrate to the UK as a doctor
Can Foreign Doctors Work in the UK?
Foreign doctors can absolutely practice in the UK, but they must fulfill specific criteria. They should have the required qualifications, prove their proficiency in English, and register with the General Medical Council (GMC). On top of that, securing a work visa is necessary, and in certain cases, passing the PLAB test is also required.
Is There a Demand for Doctors in the UK?
The UK is actively seeking doctors, with a particularly strong need in some specialties and rural locations. The National Health Service (NHS) and private healthcare sectors continuously seek skilled doctors, including those trained overseas, to help alleviate staffing shortages and maintain comprehensive healthcare services.
What are the UK Medical Exams for Foreign Doctors?
To immigrate to the UK as a doctor, you must typically pass the UK medical exam for foreign doctors, known as the PLAB test, which evaluates medical knowledge and clinical skills. Some postgraduate qualifications might exempt you from this test. Additionally, proficiency in English is necessary, generally proven through IELTS or OET exams.
How to Immigrate to the UK as a Doctor?
Let’s focus on the million dollar question: “How to migrate to the UK as a doctor?” Working as a doctor in the UK involves several steps. Here’s a general process:
- Having English language proficiency
- Recognizing your medical qualification
- Registering with the General Medical Council (GMC)
- Searching for jobs
- Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Getting a UK work visa
- Settling in the UK as a foreign doctor
Step 1. Having English Language Proficiency
One of the requirements for foreign doctors in the UK is proficiency in English. The GMC (General Medical Council) accepts two main English language tests: IELTS and OET. For the GMC, the English test results must be valid at the point of application for registration.
- Required Level for IELTS: An overall band score of 7.5 out of 9. Additionally, a minimum score of 7.0 in each of the four components is required.
- Required Level for OET: At least a grade ‘B’ in each of the four testing areas.
Step 2. Recognizing Your Medical Qualification
First, your medical degree should be recognized by the UK. The General Medical Council (GMC) lists medical schools whose qualifications are accepted. If your qualification is not from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), you will likely need to pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test or have an accepted postgraduate qualification.
Steps for Qualification Recognition
- Visit the GMC website to see if your medical school and degree are recognized. You must hold a primary medical qualification (e.g., MBBS, MD, or equivalent).
- Provide evidence of your internship or house job, if required.
- If your qualification is not listed, you may need to undertake additional steps, like the PLAB test.
- Before taking the PLAB test, you must prove your proficiency in English.
- Pass the PLAB test.
- The PLAB test assesses your ability to work as a doctor in the UK. It ensures that doctors who qualify overseas demonstrate the necessary skills and knowledge. The GMC administers the PLAB test.
- PLAB 1. It is a written multiple-choice exam covering common conditions seen by doctors in the UK, emphasizing diagnosis and management. It is held several times a year in the UK and overseas centers.
- PLAB 2. This Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) assesses your clinical skills. It is conducted regularly at the GMC’s test center in Manchester, UK.
- You must pass PLAB 1 before taking PLAB 2. After passing PLAB 2, you can apply for registration with the GMC.
- Some internationally recognized postgraduate qualifications may exempt you from taking the PLAB test. Check the GMC’s list of accepted qualifications.
Step 3. Registering with the General Medical Council (GMC)
To immigrate to the UK as a doctor, you must register with the GMC. This registration is mandatory for doctors wishing to practice medicine in the UK. Here is the registration process:
- Visit the GMC website to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for registration.
- Gather the necessary documents:
- Proof of your medical qualification
- Evidence of your English proficiency
- Your passport or other national proof of identity
- Any additional documents depending (e.g., PLAB test results, evidence of internship)
- Create an online account to register on the GMC’s website.
- Complete the online application form with personal details and information about your qualifications.
- Upload the required documents.
- Pay the scrutiny fee. It ranges from approximately £399 to £1,000.
- You will need to attend an identity check in person. You can do it in the UK or at selected overseas locations.
- Your medical qualification will undergo primary source verification by the ECFMG through their EPIC service. You must set up an EPIC account and provide consent for the GMC to access your verification report.
- You must declare any past issues related to your fitness to practice. This includes criminal records, health concerns, or professional disciplinary actions.
- Once your application is complete and all verifications are done, the GMC will review it.
- The processing time is around 3-5 months, but it can be longer. If everything is OK, you’ll receive a decision on your registration.
Step 4. Searching for Jobs
How to work in the UK as a doctor? You need to find a job first. The National Health Service (NHS) is a major employer, but there are also opportunities in private healthcare. Use these sources:
UK Recruitment Agencies for Medical Jobs
- BMJ Careers
- NHS Professionals
- Medacs Healthcare
- HCL Workforce Solutions
- ID Medical
- Global Medics
- Pulse Jobs
- Locum People
- MediLink Consulting
- Athona Ltd
Job Searching Websites
- NHS Jobs
- BMJ Careers
- Guardian Jobs
Step 5. Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Your UK employer must provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship. This virtual document has a unique reference number, which is essential for your visa application. A CoS confirms that the employer offers a genuine job that pays an appropriate salary and that the candidate is suitably qualified. We have two types of CoS: restricted and unrestricted. The type depends on the nature of the job and the salary.
How to Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?
- Firstly, get a job offer from a UK employer licensed to sponsor workers from outside the UK.
- Once you have the job offer, your employer will start the CoS process. They will use the UK government’s Sponsor Management System (SMS) to create and assign a CoS to you.
- Your employer will complete the necessary details about the job, including your details, the role, salary, and the length of employment. They will also confirm that you meet the requirements for the job, including any registration and qualifications needed.
- The employer usually pays a fee to the UK government for issuing a CoS.
- Once the CoS is approved and issued, your employer will give you the unique CoS reference number. A CoS is typically valid for 3 months from the assigned date.
- You need to apply for your work visa (Tier 2 visa) within 3 months of receiving the CoS. The CoS reference number must be included in your visa application.
Step 6. Getting a UK Work Visa
To immigrate to the UK as a doctor, you must apply for a UK visa for doctors. It is typically a Tier 2 (General) visa, suitable for skilled workers who have a job offer in the UK.
Steps to Apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa
- Verify that you meet all the other eligibility requirements for a Tier 2 visa. This includes having a job offer, having appropriate skill levels, and being paid at least the minimum salary required for your job type.
- Gather your documents, including:
- Your passport or travel document
- Certificate of Sponsorship reference number
- Bank statements at least £945 in your bank account to prove you have enough money to support yourself (maintenance funds). If your UK employer is a fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor, they can certify your maintenance on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). In this case, you wouldn’t need to show your own savings. If you also bring dependents, you need £630 for each dependent.
- Tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country.
- Criminal record certificate, if applicable.
- Documents related to your qualifications and work experience, if required.
- Fill in the visa application form online through the UK Visas and Immigration website. Provide details about yourself, your background, and your CoS.
- Pay the visa fee, which ranges from approximately £610 to £1,408.
- Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which grants you access to the UK’s National Health Service. This is typically around £624 per year.
- Submit your application and documents to the visa application center or upload them online, depending on the service used.
- After submitting your application, you must schedule and attend an appointment at a visa center to provide your fingerprints and photograph (biometrics).
- Wait for the decision. It usually takes about 3 weeks if you are outside the UK and 8 weeks from inside the UK.
- If successful, you will receive a visa that allows you to work in the UK for your sponsor. The Tier 2 (General) visa is usually granted for your job contract length plus 14 days, up to a maximum of 5 years.
- You can extend your visa and, eventually, for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.
Step 7. Settling in the UK as a Foreign Doctor
After you Immigrate to the UK as a doctor, you must do the following to settle in the country:
- Registering with the General Medical Council (GMC). It is essential for practicing medicine in the UK. You must provide proof of your qualifications, pass language tests, and attend an identity check.
- National Insurance Number (NIN). You need it to work and pay taxes in the UK. Also, it is necessary for accessing healthcare and other benefits. Apply through the Jobcentre Plus or online.
- Registering with a General Practitioner (GP). It is essential for personal healthcare. Find a local GP and register for ongoing health needs.
Other Necessary Steps for Settling
- Housing. Consider location, accessibility to work, and local amenities. You can use websites like Rightmove, Zoopla, and SpareRoom.
- Banking. You must open a bank account for salary, rent payments, and daily transactions. You need to provide identification and proof of address. Famous banks include HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, and Santander.
- Health Insurance. NHS provides healthcare, but private insurance can be beneficial for additional services. Popular providers include Bupa, AXA PPP Healthcare, and Aviva.
- Understanding the Healthcare System. NHS structure, patient rights, and professional responsibilities are key areas to focus on. The GMC offers resources to help you understand the UK healthcare system, medical laws, and ethics.
- Professional Development. Continuous learning is a GMC requirement. Engage in courses, workshops, and other learning opportunities to stay updated.
What is the Salary of a Foreign Doctor in the UK?
A foreign doctor’s salary in the UK depends on various factors, including their position, experience, and the area in which they work.
- Junior Doctors. Between €30,000 and €42,000 per annum.
- Consultants. Between €48,000 and €84,000 per annum.
- Specialists. Between €42,000 and €78,000 per annum.
- General Practitioners (GPs). Between €42,000 and €72,000 per annum.
- Surgeons. Between €42,000 and €90,000 per annum.
- Senior Doctors. Between €48,000 and €96,000 per annum.
Jobs for Doctors in the UK without PLAB
- Clinical Research Associate
- Medical Lecturer
- Public Health Consultant
- Medical Writer
- Pharmaceutical Physician
NHS Jobs UK for International Doctors
- General Practitioner (GP)
- Hospital Doctors in various specialties (e.g., Cardiology, Neurology)
- Emergency Medicine Doctor
How to Become a Doctor in the UK?
Let’s go over to the other million-dollar question: “How can a foreigner become a doctor in the UK?” You must go through several steps to complete becoming a doctor in the UK. Here’s a detailed guide:
- Finding UK universities for doctoral Programs
- Getting admission
- Getting a UK student visa
- Studying in the UK
Step 1. Finding UK Universities for Doctoral Programs
Look for universities with strong medicine programs. For research opportunities and program details, you can use online platforms like UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), FindAPhD.com, and university websites. Famous universities in the UK include:
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- University College London (UCL)
- King’s College London
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Manchester
- University of Glasgow
- University of Birmingham
- Newcastle University
Step 2. Getting Admission
Start by preparing your admission application. You must gather a personal statement, research proposal, academic transcripts, references, and sometimes, samples of your previous work.
Non-native English speakers must demonstrate proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL. You need a minimum overall band score of 6.5 for IELTS, with no individual band below 6.0. For TOEFL, you need a minimum overall score of around 90.
Submit your applications. You can apply directly through the university’s website or centralized systems like UCAS for postgraduate programs. Some programs may require interviews as part of the selection process.
Step 3. Getting a UK Student Visa
Apply for a Tier 4 (General) UK Student Visa:
- Obtain a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from your university.
- Prove you have enough money. You should have enough funds to pay for the first year of your course or the entire course if it’s less than a year long. You need to show you have £1,015 per month (for up to 9 months) for living costs if studying in London or £820 per month if studying outside London.
- Apply online, pay the visa fee (around £348), and pay the healthcare surcharge (£470 per year).
- Attend an interview if required and provide your biometrics.
- Wait for around 3 weeks and get your visa.
Step 4. Studying in the UK
Doctoral programs in the UK offer a unique blend of research and academic programs, typically spanning 3-4 years of full-time study. During this period, you engage in extensive research, culminating in producing a thesis that contributes new knowledge or understanding to your field of study.
Tuition fees for international students vary widely based on the university and the specific program but generally range from £15,000 to £24,000 per year. This cost underscores the importance of financial planning and seeking potential scholarships or funding opportunities.
Step 5. Internship
Internships and postdoctoral research positions in the UK typically span 1-2 years, providing an invaluable opportunity and allowing you to gain further experience and expertise in their field. You can intern at top research institutions, renowned universities, and industry-specific organizations, each offering unique learning and development prospects.
During an internship, you conduct research that is often closely aligned with your work. Many of these roles also include teaching responsibilities, offering you the chance to develop your educational skills and contribute to the academic community.
Is It Worth Studying Medicine in The UK?
The UK is known for its excellent clinical training and research facilities, and obtaining a degree here is globally respected. Therefore, studying medicine in the UK offers a prestigious education and diverse opportunities in the medical field. However, the path is expensive and highly competitive, particularly for international students.
Do Doctors Earn More in the UK or US?
When comparing salaries between the UK and the US, doctors in the US generally earn more. For example, specialists in the US can make over $200,000 per year, which is significantly more than the up to £105,000 typically earned by their UK counterparts. However, these figures can vary depending on the doctor’s role and location.
Do Doctors Earn More in the UK or Australia?
Regarding salary, Australian doctors usually have higher salaries than UK foreign doctors. General practitioners in Australia can make between AUD 200,000 and 300,000 a year, compared to up to £88,000 in the UK. Similarly, specialists in Australia tend to earn more than those in the UK.
Can a US Licensed Doctor Work in the UK?
Moving to the UK as a doctor for the US is possible, but they must first complete several steps. They must register with the GMC, which might require passing the PLAB exam. They must also prove their English language proficiency and obtain a work visa. Some foreign doctors in the UK might bypass the PLAB exam if they hold certain postgraduate qualifications.
How to Migrate to the UK as a Medical Laboratory Scientist?
To migrate to the UK as a doctor and work as a medical laboratory scientist, you must do the following:
- First, check if your foreign qualifications are acknowledged in the UK. This may involve an evaluation of your credentials.
- You must apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is the regulatory authority for health and care professionals in the UK. This involves submitting proof of your qualifications and professional experience.
- Show your proficiency in English, often through exams like IELTS, as part of your visa application.
- Start searching for job roles in the UK, in various settings like hospitals, research facilities, or private labs.
- Get a job offer from a UK-based employer. This is a critical step for your visa application.
- With the job offer in hand, apply for a UK work visa, usually a Tier 2 (General) visa for skilled professionals. This process will need a Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer.
- Sometimes, you might need or benefit from additional professional certifications or memberships in relevant professional organizations.
How to Get Medical Specialization in the UK for Foreigners?
To immigrate to the UK as a doctor and get medical specialization, you must follow this process:
- Register with the GMC, which might involve passing exams like PLAB and demonstrating English language skills.
- Begin working in the UK healthcare system, often starting in a junior or non-training role.
- Apply for competitive specialty training through the NHS, which may require additional qualifications or relevant experience.
- Train for 3 to 8 years, depending on the specialization.
- Complete and pass exams set by the relevant Royal College, which are crucial for advancing and concluding your training.
- You’ll get a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) from the GMC, officially recognizing you as a specialist.
Immigrate to the UK as a Doctor: Let’s Recap
While the path for foreign doctors to practice in the UK involves navigating complex processes, it opens doors to immense professional growth and contributions to a world-class healthcare system. This article aims to simplify the journey, qualification recognition, and settling into a new life.
If you have any questions about immigrating to the UK as a doctor, write them in the comment section. You can also use our free consultation service. You can see it at the top of the page.
How do I become a doctor in the UK with a foreign degree?
To practice medicine in the UK with a foreign degree, you’ll need to register with the General Medical Council (GMC). This process may include passing the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exam, demonstrating English language proficiency through exams like IELTS or OET, and possibly undergoing a period of supervised practice.
Is it easy for doctors to immigrate to the UK?
The journey involves a few key steps for doctors looking to move to the UK: obtaining registration with the GMC, proving language skills, and getting a work visa. Though the steps are clear, the process can be quite demanding and requires time and effort.
Is it worth moving to the UK as a doctor?
The decision to move to the UK as a doctor depends on your personal goals, career aspirations, and lifestyle preferences. The UK offers significant professional opportunities, access to a leading healthcare system, and avenues for career advancement.
Do doctors make a good living in the UK?
Doctors in the UK typically earn a comfortable living. The salaries of doctors vary depending on the role, experience, and the region of work. The NHS offers structured pay scales and additional earnings potential through private practice and specialized medical fields.
How to immigrate as a doctor in the UK from India?
An Indian aiming to work in the UK as a doctor must pass the PLAB test or possess a recognized postgraduate qualification, register with the GMC, demonstrate proficiency in English, secure a job offer from a UK employer, and obtain a Tier 2 (General) work visa.
How to work as a doctor in the UK from overseas?
For international doctors, working in the UK requires GMC registration, which may involve passing the PLAB test, proving English language skills, and obtaining a work visa. A crucial step is also securing a job offer from a UK employer.
How to become a doctor in the UK from another country?
To transition from being a foreign-trained doctor to practice in the UK, you need to have your medical qualifications recognized by the GMC, possibly pass the PLAB exam, demonstrate English proficiency, and obtain a Tier 2 work visa supported by a job offer from a UK-based employer.
Can UK doctors work in Canada?
Yes, UK-trained doctors can pursue careers in Canada. They must have their credentials assessed by the Medical Council of Canada, may need to pass certain exams or assessments, meet provincial licensing requirements, and often undergo a period of supervised practice in Canada.