International Optometrists

You should ensure that you read the General Optical Council’s Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians which sets out the standards of behaviour and performance expected of registrants.

Before applying to work in the UK, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate visa to do so.  Please refer to your potential employer and/or the UK Home Office for further information.

If you want to work as an optometrist in England you will likely want to apply to enter NHS England’s National Performers List which requires completion of a General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract so that you can carry out sight tests on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS).

For those who gained their qualification outside of the UK or the Republic of Ireland they must also provide:

  • evidence of English language (please note that the scores required in IELTS are 7.5 – higher than those required by the GOC);
  • evidence of three months continuous professional employment from the past two years in a country where English is the first language (two clinical references required) (please note that NHS England may not approve your application if you have not carried out any sight tests for a number of years); and
  • an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

You should refer to the NHS Area Team for the area in which you intend to work for more information about the requirements and how to apply. The Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) also gives advice on how to apply to enter the Performers List which includes a video guide about how to complete the form.

If you have gained your primary qualification outside of the United Kingdom to apply to join the General Optical Council dispensing optician or optometrist register please complete the application form. Once you have submitted this form the General Optical Council will send you the appropriate application form for you to complete.

Applicants from within the European Economic Area ( EEA ) or Switzerland, or those applicants who can demonstrate that they are an exempt person under the Opticians Act 1989 (see the General Optical Council guidance), can apply to have their qualification recognised under EU Directive 2005/36/EU on the recognition of professional qualifications.

If you do not have sufficient knowledge and/or experience to practise in the UK, you can choose to either undergo further training known as an ‘adaptation period’ or complete an ‘aptitude test’. If completed successfully, you may then be eligible to join the registers and practise in the UK.

If you are an optometrist who has qualified outside of the European Economic Area or Switzerland you can choose to apply for this route to registration.

You can only apply for this route to registration if you:

  • have undertaken three years’ full time (or equivalent part-time) optometric training, either post baccalaureate or from the age of 18, and completed that qualification in the country of training;
  • are legally qualified to practise optometry in a country outside of the UK;
  • have practised for one year in the last ten years (unsupervised practice, post-qualification) and be registered with a regulatory body in your country of practice; and
  • have obtained a minimum score of 7 in the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Individual scores for each section of the test must not be lower than 6, with the exception of the ‘Speaking’ section, where a minimum score of 7 is required.

Please ensure that you have familiarised yourself with the General Optical Council guidance on Working in the UK.

To apply you must first complete the General Optical Council self-assessment form. If it is deemed appropriate for you to apply for this route to registration you will receive the application form.

When you receive the form it will advise you what documentation we require. Please ensure that you correctly certify and translate your documents or your application could be rejected.

Download General Optical Council Certification Guidance

If you have any further questions after reading this guidance please email international@optical.org

This route is for people who gained their qualifications outside the EEA who wish to join our register of dispensing opticians.

Please ensure that you have familiarised yourself with the General Optical Council guidance on Working in the UK.

To apply you must first complete the General Optical Council self-assessment form here. If it is deemed appropriate for you to apply for this route to registration you will receive the application form.

When you receive the form it will advise you what documentation we require. Please ensure that you correctly certify and translate your documents or your application could be rejected.

Download General Optical Council Certification Guidance

You can only apply for this route to registration if you:

  • have a relevant qualification
  • have practised as a dispensing optician for one year in the last ten years (unsupervised practice, post-qualification) 
  • have obtained a minimum score of 7 in the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Individual scores for each section of the test must not be lower than 6, with the exception of the ‘Speaking’ section, where a minimum score of 7 is required