Applying for registration when you hold EC rights

What is an EC right?

It stands for ‘enforceable Community right’. Under certain circumstances individuals may have the right to move and live freely within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) member states.

Having an EC Right does not entitle applicants to registration. Applicants need to satisfy normal registration procedure.

For more information about demonstrating 'exempt person' status by virtue of an 'enforceable Community right' please see our EC rights fact sheet.

This page highlights some key issues for applicants with EC rights:

English language skills

European law

A directive is a legislative act of the European Union that members of the European Union and the European Economic Area are required to comply with.

You should be aware of your obligations under Article 53 of The Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications, that:

‘Persons benefiting from the recognition of professional qualifications shall have a knowledge of languages necessary for practising the profession in the host Member State [the UK, in this case]’.

We need to be satisfied you can communicate safely in English before we give you a licence, so you do not put the safety of your patients at risk. Communication is speaking, reading, writing and listening.    

We may ask you to give us evidence of your English language capability.

If we ask you for evidence of your English language capability, and:

  • you do not send it to us


  • the Registrar is not satisfied with it

We will not grant you a licence.

Getting employment in the UK

You will need to show your employer that you have the necessary English language skills to be employed in the UK health service. Being able to communicate in English is key to safe and effective medical practice in the UK.

Along with many UK employers, we accept the as a measure of communication skills in English. Passing the IELTS test provides clear and objective evidence of your English language skills and may place you in a better position when it comes to employment.


Breaks in medical practice

What if I have had a break in practice?

If you have had a break in medical practice you may find it more difficult to get registration and find work in the UK. It is in your interest to make sure your knowledge and skills are up to date before you work in medical practice.

Keeping your knowledge and skills up to date

Once you are a UK-registered doctor you must keep your knowledge and skills (including your English language) up to date. If you have had a break in practice and want advice before you make an application, please contact us.

Our role

Our main objective is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public. If we discover that your knowledge and skills (including English language) are of a poor standard, and your fitness to practise may be impaired, you may be referred to our fitness to practise section.