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Information for dentists

The General Dental Council (GDC) is the organisation which regulates dental professionals in the United Kingdom. All dentists, dental nurses, dental technicians, dental hygienists, dental therapists, clinical dental technicians and orthodontic therapists must be registered with the GDC to work in the UK. When you register with the GDC you are licensed to work as a dentist in the UK.

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 will not allow dentists to work in general or private practice, or in the community dental services.

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 NARIC UK for the purposes of temporary registration and the overseas registration examination (ORE).

Temporary registration is granted for a minimum of 84 days and a maximum of 365 days at a time. Temporary registration may be renewed, by means of applying, for up to a maximum of 1826 days (5 years).

Dentists - Non-European Economic Area (EEA) 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). The GDC require applicants to submit a single, stamped academic IELTS Test Report Form, showing a minimum overall score of 7.0, and with a score of no less than 6.5 in any of the individual sections. The IELTS Test Report Form must be no more than two years old when you submit your application.

Details about IELTS may be obtained from the IELTS website.

Further details of the ORE examinations can be found on the GDC website.

Vocational training

Dentists who complete the ORE examination may be required to do up to a year's Vocational Training (VT) in order to work for the NHS. Success in the exam is not a guarantee of employment or a VT place.

Further advice on VT can be found on the British Dental Association (BDA) website.

In order 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. To do this, they need to complete VT or undergo an assessment by the Local Education and Training Board (LETB) that will make recommendations with relevance to a dentist's equivalent experience.

If you require further advice on VT places you should contact the Postgraduate Dental Dean at the LETB in the region where you wish to work. Further information on eligibility for VT and contact details of LETBs and deaneries can be found at: www.copdend.org.uk.

The right to work in the UK

Registration with an appropriate regulatory authority does not give you the right to work in the UK.

If you are not a UK/EEA national, you will need to meet the requirements of the UK Border Agency regulations to gain the right to enter and work in UK.

Dentists - EEA 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.

Dentists with qualifications gained in Bulgaria or Romania will need to check their eligibility to register with the GDC.

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. This is covered by EU Directive 2004/38/EC and the non-EEA national 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.


Which immigration route will I need to use?

If you are not a British citizen, or a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) you will need a visa and may need entry clearance before you travel to the UK. To obtain a visa or entry clearance you will need to meet all the requirements of the UK Border Agency which is responsible for the immigration process into the UK.

A national from outside the EEA seeking entry to, or permission to remain in, the UK for the purpose of employment will need to meet the requirements of the points-based system. This is the immigration system which replaced the old immigration routes, such as work permits.

Will I have to take a health check?

All NHS Staff must have a pre-employment health check, which adheres to equal opportunities legislation and good occupational health practice before starting employment. .

Do I need to provide a health certificate when I apply for registration?

Yes. All applicants who have clinical contact with patients need to provide the GDC with a health certificate completed by a referee. For some applicants this may involve a visit to their doctor for a medical examination. In addition, all applicants for registration will need to complete a self-declaration about their health and character, whatever the nature of their work.

Does each registrant have to have their own professional indemnity insurance and/or be a member of a defence organisation

All GDC registrants are required to make sure there are adequate and appropriate arrangements in place so that patients can claim any compensation they may be entitled to. The indemnity can be held either by the individual or by the employer.

Further details can be found on the GDC website.

Can I sit the Overseas Registration Examination more than once?

Yes. Part one papers must be passed at one sitting. If either paper is failed, you will be required to sit all of part one again. You are allowed four attempts at part one. If you fail four times, you will not be able to sit the ORE again.

Part two must be passed within five years of you first attempt at part one. Otherwise you will not be allowed to continue with the ORE and will not be eligible to sit the ORE again. Once part two of the ORE has been passed, you will be eligible to apply for registration as a dentist in the UK.

Do I need to take a language test before I can sit the Overseas Registration Examination

Yes. All applicants are required to demonstrate their ability to communicate in English to a specified standard before you will be allowed to sit the ORE tests. This requirement applies to all candidates who are not EEA nationals, or entitled to be treated as such through derived rights.

The ORE examinations take place in the UK and applicants receive details of the date of their examination and the location from the GDC. A timetable of the scheduled examinations is available on the GDC website.

Where do I look for job vacancies in the NHS?

NHS organisations in England (and Wales) advertise their vacancies on the NHS Jobs website

Further information

Further information about working or training as a dentist in the UK can be obtained from the National Advice Centre for Postgraduate Dental Education (NACPDE) website.