Information for overseas dentists

If you're looking for information about becoming a dentist in the UK, you’ve come to the right place. 

This page describes what you need to know, depending on where you’ve trained, and signposts you to further information.

The General Dental Council (GDC) is the organisation that regulates dental professionals in the UK. All dentists and dental care professionals must be registered with the GDC and licensed to work in the UK.

Temporary registration

Temporary registration allows dentists who are not eligible for full registration to practise dentistry in the UK in supervised posts for training, teaching, or research purposes only for a limited period. Temporary registration allows dentists to work in hospital and university positions, not primary care

An overseas qualified dentist can apply for temporary registration in specific approved posts if they hold a dental qualification from a university which is recognised by UK ENIC for the purposes of temporary registration and the overseas registration examination (ORE).

Temporary registration is granted for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 365 days at a time and may be renewed by means of application, for up to a maximum of 1826 days (5 years).

Non-European Economic Area nationals

Dentists from outside the EEA whose qualifications are not recognised for full registration with the GDC need to take the overseas registration examination (ORE). For information on the qualifications recognised for full registration, dentists should contact the GDC.

The ORE tests the clinical skills and knowledge of dentists from outside the EEA whose qualifications are not recognised for full registration with the GDC. The examination is based on the UK dental curriculum and uses modern assessment methods to ensure a robust and consistent examination. Dentists who pass this examination become eligible to apply for full registration to practise in the UK. All applicants need to demonstrate that they have an appropriate level of English language competence before they can sit the ORE and are required to demonstrate their linguistic competence by sitting the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Find out more about ORE examinations on the GDC website.

Vocational training

Dentists who complete the ORE examination may be required to do up to a year's foundation training in order to work for the NHS. Success in the exam is not a guarantee of employment.

To work in general dental practice (primary care) undertaking NHS work, dentists need to have their names on the NHS Performers list held by NHS England. 

The right to work in the UK

It's important to remember that registration with an appropriate regulatory authority does not give you the right to work in the UK.

Unless you are a British or Irish citizen or have pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme, it is likely you will need to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration regulations to gain the right to enter and work in UK. Check the UK Government's website to find out if you need a visa to work in the UK.

European Economic Area nationals

Dentists from the EEA, with a primary qualification specified in the relevant EC Directive are able to register with the General Dental Council and practise in the UK on the basis of that qualification. All dentists who qualified outside the UK, must confirm the status of their registration and the documentation required for registration, with the GDC before they travel to the UK.

In certain circumstances, dental professionals who are non-EEA nationals but are family members of EEA nationals, are entitled to be treated as an EEA national for registration purposes. Non-EEA nationals must provide certain documents to prove this entitlement. The main conditions under which this condition applies are as follows:

  • the non-EEA national must be the family member of an EEA national (other than a UK national)
  • the EEA national is moving to work or reside in the UK and their family member is accompanying them

Further information

See the National Advice Centre for Postgraduate Dental Education (NACPDE) website for more information about working or training as a dentist in the UK.

If you are thinking about coming to work in the UK, it is a good idea to read the guidance from the Government which includes information on:

  • avoiding scams
  • working rights and standards
  • what to consider when deciding whether to take a health or care job in the UK
  • where to go for further guidance, support or help in the UK
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