Qualifying to work as a GP in the UK

Qualifying to work as a GP in the UK

The time it takes to be able to work as a GP in the UK will depend on your nationality, where you gained your primary medical qualification, and your experience. It can take many months to go through all of the required processes, so it is important to start planning and applying as far in advance as possible. Don’t worry if there is a problem, or if things don’t quite go according to plan, you can seek help from all of the organisations who have contributed to this guide, depending on your needs. The steps involved are: 

  1. Licence to Practise and General Medical Council (GMC) registration
  2. GP Registration
  3. Induction and inclusion on the National Medical Performers List (NMPL)

Registration and licensing

The General Medical Council (GMC) ensures that all registered doctors maintain the high standards the public and the medical profession expect. 

Full registration with the GMC along with a licence to practise allow a doctor to practise medicine in the UK. To work as a GP in the NHS, a doctor must also obtain GP Registration and be included on the medical NMPL of the country in which they wish to work.  

There are various ways of applying to join the UK medical register and obtaining a licence to practise. The type of application you are eligible to make will depend on your nationality, where you gained your primary medical qualification, and your experience and activities. The GMC website will help you find the applications you are able to make. You should consider applying for GMC registration at least six to twelve months before you intend to take up a post in the UK.

Whichever route is followed, you must:

  • have the necessary knowledge of English to practise medicine in the UK
  • provide evidence of your identity and nationality, including attending an identity check at the GMC's UK offices
  • provide details of all medical and non-medical experience and activities
  • provide Certificates of Good Standing from every medical regulatory authority you have been registered with during the past five years
  • complete a set of declarations about your fitness to practise

GP Registration

Since 2006, all doctors working in general practice in the NHS must be on the GMC's GP Register unless they are in an approved GP training programme. Depending on personal circumstances, there are several ways a doctor can get GP registration. Whatever the route, doctors must hold full registration with a licence to practise when their name is added to the GP Register. 

Induction and the National Medical Performers List

To enable you to start working in the NHS, as a qualified GP, you must complete a programme of induction to be accepted onto a National Medical Performers List (NMPL), for the country in which you first wish to work. 

The NMPL provides an extra layer of reassurance for the public that GPs practising in the NHS are suitably qualified, have up to date training, have appropriate English language skills and have passed other relevant checks such as with the Disclosure and Barring Service and the NHS Resolution.

The GMC checks your qualifications and whether your training is fit for purpose. The NMPL states that you are fit to practise as an independent practitioner. 

The application process requires you to complete an application form and submit the relevant documents. In England the current paper based system will be replaced by an online portal with the ability to upload relevant documents to a secure website in spring of 2018.  This will enable doctors to start their application while overseas and help to reduce the time taken to process the application.

There are separate lists for Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, each health board runs its own performers list and there is no central list. You can choose to be added to other areas in Scotland in addition to the area you first apply to work in. 

The licence to practise and revalidation

Once you hold a licence to practise to work as a GP in the UK, you are legally required to revalidate. This is usually every five years and is based on having an annual appraisal based on the GMC’s core guidance for doctors. Most doctors have a connection to an organisation known as a designated body, for example an NHS local area team or health board, that will support them with appraisal and revalidation.  


All doctors are required to have adequate and appropriate insurance and indemnity cover before starting work in the UK.

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