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General considerations


GMC registration

The GMC does not require doctors to retain registration or a licence to practise when they are not engaged in medical practice in the UK, such as when they are taking time out to work overseas. However, whilst abroad, doctors need to work within the guidance and standards of the GMC and to ensure they comply with and are active on any foreign register prior to working abroad.

To maintain GMC registration during time spent working overseas, the annual retention fee must be paid and you must keep the GMC informed of your contact details. You will need to participate in revalidation. With a national training number, revalidation is done via your annual ARCP.  For others, there is scope to defer a revalidation date if it happens to fall while you are outside of the UK - this can be arranged with your Responsible Officer. 

Alternatively you can do the following;

- Relinquish your licence whilst remaining on the register - avoids the need to revalidate and allows a fee reduction. The GMC will require a Certificate of Good Standing from your new medical board to restore a licence on return to practice. UK employers' policies on this issue vary so always check your contract with your employer. If you are a trainee, giving up your licence to practise may not be desirable and you are strongly advised to consult your deanery before making any decisions. You also need to check whether the medical association or organisation in the country to which you are relocating requires you to still be licenced in your home country.

- Voluntary erasure - you can apply to have your name erased from the register while abroad which means you will no longer be registered with the GMC or hold a licence to practise. You do not need to pay the annual fee. You can't apply until three months before the date on which you want your registration to end. If you are erased from the register you will need to apply to have your registration restored before you can practise again in the UK which can take up to three months.

For more information see


Medical indemnity

Check your medical indemnity and take out separate indemnity insurance or appropriate defense body cover. UK-based defense bodies can advise you about the overseas cover they offer. If they do not provide cover for medical practice in the country you are going to, they should be able to refer you to defense unions abroad that do. You can also seek advice on local defense bodies from your prospective employer.

When selecting the country to work in you should consider the professional and legal risks of practising medicine in a particular country or region.


Student loan repayments

When working abroad for more than three months, those repaying a student loan are required to complete an overseas income assessment form providing details of your circumstances and prospective income plus provide evidence of your income or means of support. The monthly repayment schedule is based on the same principles as for those who live in the UK - you will repay 9% of your earnings over the repayment threshold for the country you are living in.
 Normally your scheduled repayment amount is fixed for a 12 month period but you can apply for a reassessment of your scheduled repayment amount at any time if your income level changes or if you are moving between countries with different threshold bands.

For more information:,6678653&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL


NHS pension

It is important to protect your pension. This area is complicated and you may wish to get independent advice. BMA members can contact the BMA Pensions department on 020 7383 6138 or email

You're now allowed to be a member of a UK registered pension scheme regardless of where you live or where your employer is based. 

Generally when you move abroad you have several options with your pension to consider:
Option 1 – leave your pensions in the UK pension plan.
Option 2 – transfer your UK pensions to an approved arrangement in your new country of residence
Option 3 - Paying into a UK pension scheme from abroad

To protect pension benefits on leaving NHS employment, applicants must have made contributions for two full calendar years. If work undertaken abroad benefits future NHS work, the two periods of pension can be linked on re-entering NHS employment.


Your Health Abroad

Private medical and dental health care, including medical repatriation to the UK, is strongly recommend. 
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid for non-UK residents and is no longer valid once you move abroad.


Additional information

'Going to Live Abroad' 

This booklet produced by the Foreign Commonwealth Office details a host of useful information for those planning to move abroad.