Information for overseas midwives

If you're looking for information about becoming a midwife 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.

Anyone wanting to work in the UK as a midwife must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

To be accepted for registration applicants must have successfully completed an approved programme of midwifery education and must also meet the NMC requirements of good health and good character. The registration requirements for midwives are different depending on where the applicant qualified. 

Information about this can be found on the NMC website. Registration with the NMC does not guarantee that you will find employment within the UK, it also does not provide the right to work in the UK. 

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.

The NMC sets requirements and standards for midwives from outside of the UK and EEA. These must be met by any midwife whose initial training was not within the EU or UK and wishes to apply to join the NMC register. Visit the NMC website for a full list criteria to join the register. 

Process for midwives trained from outside the EEA

Since October 2014, individuals who trained outside of the UK or EEA and meet all the minimum requirements set by the NMC, need to successfully complete a 2-part application process.

  • Part one – a computer based multiple-choice examination which will be accessible in many countries around the world for applicants to access in their home countries.
  • Part two – a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) which will always be held in the UK.

This process does not require applicants to complete a period of supervised practice.

For further information about the application process and the test of competence please visit the NMC website.

All applicants must have successfully completed this 2-part process before the NMC will consider placing them on the Midwives Register.

Midwives trained outside of the UK must also meet the English language standards set by the NMC. This can be demonstrated: 

IELTS is a universally recognised international test of English language proficiency and measures language ability of people who wish to study and/or work where English is the main language of communication. Those taking the IELTS need to achieve achieving a minimum overall level of 7 (from 5 December 2018, although, a minimum overall level of 7 is required, a level 6.5 in writing will be accepted alongside a level 7 in reading, listening and speaking.

Further details about IELTS can be found on the IELTS website

The OET is an international English language test designed specifically for the healthcare sector and in the UK is an option for doctors, nurses and midwives.

It assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who wish to register and practise in an English-speaking environment. Midwives taking the OET need to achieve a minimum of a level B. 

Further details about the OET can be found on the OET website 

  • through evidence that their pre-registration nursing programme was taught and examined in English and that at least 50 per cent of the programme involved clinical interaction using English

Read more about registering with the NMC,including language competency requirements and guidance on the NMC website.

European Economic Area nationals

The NMC will compare the training you received in your country, with that required in the UK. Where there are significant differences between the two, the NMC will detail these and you may be invited to make up the differences through a period of adaptation.

Midwives who received their training outside the EEA and have not been registered and practised in another EU member state for three years, will need to apply through the overseas route. This applies equally to overseas trained midwives who hold EU nationality or EC Treaty Rights.

Following the recognition of qualification, and before entry to the register, all applicants are required to supply evidence that they have the necessary knowledge of English. Communication is defined as speaking, reading, listening and writing. 

Read more information about EEA registration on the NMC website.

Code of practice for ethical recruitment

Many NHS organisations contract with agencies to help with overseas recruitment campaigns, in line with the Department of Health and Social Care code of practice.

The code is clear that active recruitment from developing countries is unethical. See NHS Employers' website for more detail. The code of practice also includes key principles such as not requiring candidates to pay a fee up front. If you are asked to pay a fee up front for promises of NHS accommodation or work, please report the request to Action Fraud.

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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