The post-Brexit route to getting your non-UK dental qualification recognised in the UK

The post-Brexit route to getting your non-UK dental qualification recognised in the UK

The regulatory process for recognition of dental qualifications obtained outside of the UK has always proven somewhat challenging. There have been many bureaucratic hurdles for applicants to overcome and much evidence to gather before gaining entry to the register. The UK’s decision to leave the EU in June 2016 sent shock waves across the regulatory landscape – how would the regulators manage the assessment of such applications once the transition period ended and the UK left the EU for good?

We have now reached, and passed, this historic date. The 31 December 2020 has come and gone, and the UK is no longer a member of the EU. Granted, we have been distracted by a greater societal challenge in the last 12 months with the emergence and spread of the Coronavirus. Nevertheless, there are now important changes to be aware of when making an application to the GDC for recognition of qualifications obtained outside of the UK and entry to the register for dentists.

Some of the regulators, to include the GDC, and membership bodies have been quick off the mark in producing guidance on the changes brought about by the Withdrawal Agreement and ancillary law enacted by the UK. These guidelines prove helpful in navigating this new territory, particularly as any fresh application for registration submitted after 11pm on 31 December 2020 will be assessed under the new rules.

As such, there remain three main routes to entry to the GDC register as a dentist:

  • a UK qualification;
  • a qualification obtained in an EEA member state (with other special provisions for Switzerland); and
  • any other overseas qualification.

The most profound change is the perspective from which any future application will be viewed. Prior to Brexit the regulators considered the country of origin (or residence) of an applicant as a relevant factor, particularly where an applicant sought to rely upon an enforceable EU right, in having their application assessed. From now on, any application will be adjudicated upon the type of qualification rather than the applicant’s nationality.

What this means in practical terms is that the “exempt status route” is no longer in existence. Instead, the EU and UK have made an agreement that for the next two years those seeking registration to the GDC register with qualifications from the EEA, with (i) a recognised qualification from Annex V3 of Directive 2005/36/EC and (ii) access to the profession in their home state will be granted entry to the register of their respective regulator. There are separate rules in relation to Swiss nationals, their dependants and spouses, as there are in relation to dental care professionals.

If the EEA based dentist qualification is not recognised in the Annex, then the applicant must apply as an overseas graduate. Such applicants must sit, as before, special professional examinations before they are accepted onto the register. The usual standards also remain regarding their proficiency of the English language and indemnity requirements.

This is certainly new terrain, both for applicants and the regulator. We, at Hempsons, have been keeping a very watchful eye on the regulatory developments in this area over the last number of years and are on hand to assist you in navigating this new landscape. Please contact either Sharon Cooney or Hilary King or a member of our wider Regulatory and Crime team and we can talk you through the next steps in making a registration application.