How to register for the General Medical Council as an International Medical Graduate

4 min read

Posted 06.09.22 by

  • Hunter Clinical
  • News

This article provides a general overview of the General Medical Council (GMC) and some of the main ways that International Medical Graduates (IMGs) can register to practice medicine in the UK.

The role of the GMC and who needs to register

The role of the GMC is to protect patient safety by setting professional and ethical standards of medical practice. To practice medicine in the UK, all doctors must be registered with the GMC.

Dependent on a doctor’s qualifications and experience level, they can apply to one of four registrations available:

  • Provisional registration with a licence to practice is granted to UK and International doctors to complete their UK approved Foundation Year 1 (FY1) training programme. At this stage, doctors can only practice medicine in a supervised setting within their training post. This registration can also be given to IMGs who complete their Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) route, but do not have the relevant experience required to gain GMC registration. For instance, all doctors must have an approved internship/training post as part of the UK Foundation programme.
  • Full registration with a licence to practice is granted to UK and International doctors to progress their training into a UK approved Foundation Year 2 (FY2) training programme. This registration also allows doctors to practice medicine unsupervised in the NHS or in a private practice. It is at this point that the Hunter Clinical team can begin supporting IMGs and British trained doctors find their career in the NHS or private healthcare.
  • Specialist registration is granted to doctors who have completed a GMC approved postgraduate specialty training course or equivalent such as the Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR). To be granted a specialist registration, a doctor must hold full registration with licence to practice. This registration is for doctors taking up a consultant level position in a medical or surgical specialty within the NHS or a private healthcare practice in the UK.
  • For a doctor to qualify for the General Practitioner (GP) registration, they must complete the 2-year Foundation Programme (FY1 or FY2) and they must complete 3 years of GP training. To be included in the GP register, doctors must complete their GP training either in the UK or abroad through an approved training programme. To learn more about the competencies required to gain GP registration, visit the GMC website (linked below). Please note, doctors with experience working as a GP abroad but do not have the relevant postgraduate training required in the UK will need to apply for full registration.

What you need to register for the GMC as an IMG

Doctors who gained their qualifications outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland can gain their GMC registration through either the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test, or the Royal College pathway.

Both pathways will also require doctors to take either the Occupational English Test (OET) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Finally, doctors will need their medical qualifications to be independently verified through the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC verification).

About the PLAB pathway:

There are two parts to the PLAB test:

  • Part 1 of the PLAB is a written exam that tests your knowledge of best medical practices in the UK.
  • Part 2 of the PLAB is a practical examination, also considered an Objective Structure Clinical Exam (OSCE).

Prior to booking the PLAB, all applicants must create an online profile on the GMC website and provide evidence of a legitimate and recent (within 2 years) English test result and other relevant documents.

About the Royal College pathway:

An IMG can gain GMC through their postgraduate medical qualifications.

As part of their mandate, the GMC sets the educational standards for a wide range of specialties and sub-specialties which are divided into Royal Colleges.

It is recommended to double-check the specific requirements for your examination (s) as they differ by each Royal College specialty. This includes exam dates and fees. Further information can be found on the relevant Royal College website.

To gain GMC registration through the Royal College pathway, applicants must have passed their Royal College examinations and been awarded their certificate within the last three years.

IELTS versus OET:

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a general English language examination that tests your speaking, listening, written, and reading skills. You must have a score of 7.0 of each test and an overall score of 7.5.

The Occupational English Test (OET) is a medical based English language examination. The OET tests your speaking, listening, written, and reading skills. You must have a grade ‘B’ in all testing areas.

Working in the National Health Service (NHS) and private healthcare

Hunter Clinical provides bespoke careers advice to IMGs and British trained doctors looking to build their long-term career in the the NHS, or private healthcare. To book a confidential chat with a member of the Hunter Clinical team, contact us at:

Visit the General Medical Council website to find out more about how to register: Registration and licensing – GMC (


Types of registration – before you apply guide – GMC (

PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) – GMC (

What is the PLAB 1 exam? – GMC (

What can you expect at PLAB Part 2 (the practical test – with changes for COVID-19)? – YouTube

Evidence to support your application – GMC (

Evidence of your knowledge of English – GMC (

Ethical guidance – GMC (