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Information for overseas dentists

The General Dental Council (GDC) is the organisation which regulates dental professionals in the United Kingdom. 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 will not allow dentists to work in general or private practice, or in 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 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). 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 Visas and Immigration Agency's regulations to gain the right to enter and work in 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

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.