There are several steps that IMGs (international medical graduates) have to take to be eligible to work in the UK.

The process isn’t an instant one, it may take over 12 months for an IMG to work in the UK.

This is the first of four blogs that we hope breaks the start of the process all the way to the end.

If you need any more information or advice, please get in touch with our International Recruitment Team on 0208 099 6947 or by emailing

Choose your most suitable route to GMC registration – There are different routes to gaining a GMC registration, and they depend on what medical qualifications you have:

  • Overseas Postgraduate Qualification
    • If you have one of the qualifications on this page, you can use this for your GMC registration
  • UK Postgraduate Qualification
    • If you have one of the qualifications on this page, you can use this for your GMC registration

If you do not have either of these, you will have to take your Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test. The GMC uses PLAB test, comprising of two parts, to ensure that the medical ability of doctors coming to work in the UK is at the same standard as a UK doctor starting their FY2.

The first part, PLAB 1, is a 3-hour multiple choice exam with 180 questions that will put you in different clinical scenarios. For more information on the PLAB 1, including how to book, please visit this page from the GMC.

Then there is PLAB 2, which you can take before or after PLAB 1. PLAB 2 is an exam that tests your clinical skills and must be sat in person in the UK. For more information from the GMC on PLAB 2, please visit this page.

To travel to the UK for this, you may need a UK Visitor Visa. For more information on the UK Visitor Visa for PLAB 2, including the application process, documentation needed and the cost of living whilst you’re in the UK for this time, please visit this page.

As the UK Visitor Visa is for 6 months, if you have the time and availability, you could potentially:

  • Pass PLAB 2
  • Apply for and obtain GMC registration
  • Apply for jobs and attend interviews
  • Finalise a job and get a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) to apply for a work visa
  • Undertake a Clinical Attachment (unpaid observing) to gain experience in the NHS before starting a paid position


English Language Skills – An understanding of the English language must be demonstrated (listening, reading, speaking and writing) before being able to register with the GMC. As an IMG, you will do this by passing either the IELTS or the OET:

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