GMC Registration Law Update 2021

GMC registration Law Update 2021 (Post-Brexit)GMC Registration Law: A Post-Brexit Update – How to Apply

This update relates EEA applicants for GMC Registration, after Brexit. See the separate guidance on Switz GMC registration applications, and other countries below.

From 31 December 2020, doctors who are EEA nationals and hold EEA primary professional qualifications will no longer benefit from automatic recognition when applying for GMC registration.  Family members of EEA nationals who had a primary qualification from outside the UK or EEA can no longer use “exempt person” status.

The GMC has recently overhauled the registration process. The key factor for determining which application route a doctor should use and the evidence they will need to supply to the GMC will turn on where the doctor obtained their primary medical qualification, not their nationality.

Doctors who qualified in EEA countries must hold a relevant European qualification. As a broad rule of thumb, it mirrors the qualifications that would previously have qualified for automatic recognition under the EC Directive of Recognition of Professional Qualifications. 

On the GMC website there is a country by country list that doctors can use to check if their medical degree will be treated as a relevant European qualification. A relevant European qualification will meet the GMC’s requirement for evidence of knowledge and skills.

If you are a doctor who holds a relevant European qualification you will need to get your degree verified by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and prove your knowledge of English.


There is a Citizens’ Rights Agreement between the UK and Switzerland to cover GMC registration applications for a minimum of the next 4 years for those who have qualified in Switzerland. If a doctor is a non-UK, EEA or Swiss national but are a family member of a UK or Swiss national it might be possible for them to establish an EU right to be treated as a qualifying Swiss national (provided the right existed before 31 December 2020.) This sounds like the previous “exempt person” type of application. However, there is no guidance on what evidence needs to be produced, or what the GMC’s criteria will be.

Any application cannot be made on-line. A doctor will have to contact a GMC specialist by telephone for advice on how to apply and what evidence you must provide.

Other applications – GMC international medical graduate route

Applicants who qualified outside the EEA or Switzerland (or do not have a relevant European qualification) will need to apply using the GMC international medical graduate route. 

Meeting the GMC’s requirement for knowledge and skills recently changed with the addition of some extra ways that this can be satisfactorily proved. Most doctors will sit the PLAB examination.  The GMC has added a pass in Overseas Registration examinations from the USA, Canada and Australia passed before set dates in 2020. 

Other alternatives for proving knowledge and skills are an acceptable postgraduate qualification, sponsorship with a GMC approved sponsor, eligibility to apply for the specialist register via CESR or CEGPR, or eligibility to apply for the specialist registers using a relevant European qualification.  The current criteria for what will be deemed an acceptable overseas qualification is set out on the GMC website.

If you are seeking GMC registration, contact us in strict confidence and without obligation to speak to our GMC registration law specialist, Ms Paula Clements.

See also our other article on making GMC Registration Applications.