Help for refugee doctors

What can we do to help?

We know that doctors holding refugee status may have difficulty providing original documents as these may have been lost or destroyed. In these cases, we try to directly verify documents where possible or look for alternative ways to confirm they are genuine.

We are also aware that due to individual circumstances, doctors holding refugee status may not be able to provide the standard evidence we require. In these cases, we will look at every application to see if we can accept alternative evidence in its place.

Find out what help we can offer with registration fees for refugee doctors.

What can other organisations do to help?

We would recommend before you apply, you contact an organisation that can advise and support you through the registration process. These organisations can also provide careers advice as well as guidance and employability skills development training. We currently work directly with several organisations, providing advice to their clients before a doctor applies for registration and a licence to practise or to sit the PLAB test. This means we can provide tailored advice for each doctor and their particular circumstances, which can significantly speed up the application process.

Do I have exempt person status (benefiting from EC rights)?

Most doctors holding refugee status are international medical graduates who are not classed as an ‘exempt person’. If you think you may be an ‘exempt person’, you will need to make an ‘exempt person’ enquiry before applying for registration.

How is an application for registration assessed?

English language capability

The quickest way of demonstrating satisfactory knowledge of English language is to provide a valid pass in either IELTS or the OET. However, we will also consider alternative evidence.

Primary medical qualification (PMQ)

To be eligible to apply for registration, your PMQ must meet our acceptability criteria. Read about our acceptability criteria.

From 11 June 2018, you'll need to have your PMQ independently verified before we can grant your registration with a licence to practise. If you intend to apply after this date, read about what this will mean for you. If you have any concerns about your ability to complete this process, please contact us.

Experience (internship)

To be eligible to apply for full registration, your internship training must meet one of our current acceptable patterns of training. See details of the current acceptable patterns of training.

If you are not eligible to apply for full registration, you may be eligible to apply for provisional registration.

Knowledge and skills

You can demonstrate your knowledge and skills in four different ways:

It is important to mention that passing both parts of the PLAB test does not mean that you will automatically be granted registration and a licence to practise. There are other issues that may result in an application needing further investigation and information, for example:

  • Experience pattern (internship training; for example, breaks in training)
  • A substantial break in practice
  • Multiple PLAB test fails (even with a subsequent pass)
  • Health
  • Misconduct

Where a doctor has had a substantial break in practice, we may request evidence of how they have kept their knowledge and skills up to date during that break. Evidence can include (but is not limited to) clinical attachments and continuing professional development / medical education.

Good standing

You will need to provide a valid certificate of good standing from each of the medical regulatory authorities you have held registration in the past five years (even if you have not worked there).

Useful organisations and information

RAGU (Refugee Assessment and Guidance Unit)

The Building Bridges programme is an NHS funded partnership for all Refugee Health Professionals living in London and is made up of three organisations: RAGU, Glowing Results and the Refugee Council. RAGU specifically provides careers advice alongside guidance and employability skills development training for all Refugee Health Professionals.

REACHE Northwest

They provide help for refugee health professionals who live in the North West with the following support:

  • Advice and guidance, CVs and job/volunteering applications
  • English classes and placements
  • PLAB examination preparation and registration applications
  • Adaptation to the NHS and first NHS medical post

WARD (Wales Refugee and Asylum Seeker Doctors) Group

Provide similar services as REACHE and RAGU for doctors in Wales

Bridges Programmes

Provide similar services as REACHE and RAGU for doctors in Scotland

British Medical Association (BMA)

The BMA Refugee Doctor Initiative is a special package of free benefits, available to refugee and asylum seeking doctors as they seek to establish their careers in the UK.

The Refugee Council

The Refugee Council provides free advice and information to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.


ROSE is an online information portal for refugee and asylum-seeking healthcare professionals, the agencies supporting them and employers. It provides information on the requirements for UK registration for refugee and asylum-seeking health professionals (RHPs) and advice and resources to help RHPs become safe practitioners in the UK.

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