UK NMC Nursing Registration Guide for Overseas Nurses

Nurses are the cornerstone in any health care system. They play an important role in delivering patient care in multiple clinical settings. After the COVID-19 outbreak, nurses’ essential role has become more obvious than ever. Hospitals around the world need more nurses, and the UK is not an exception. There is more nurse shortage, and high demand for nurses. That is why the UK offers multiple routes for nurses to become registered and licensed.

1. Kerala Nurses and the UK

The UK has been relying on overseas trained nurses to overcome domestic shortage of nursing staff. Overseas nursing recruitment is an essential part of the NHS workforce supply strategy. Kerala is one example of an overseas state that has been providing high quality trained nurses for at least the past decade to the extent that WHO has mentioned Kerala in a report done in 2017 recognizing it as a major source for migrating nurses.

Indian Keralite nurses have been a crucial part in the UK’s COVID-19 fight as well. Kerala nurses contributed in providing high quality patient care.

In this Article, Benchmark OET will provide scenarios and steps to follow if you are an international nurse seeking working in the UK.

2. Advantages of Working as a Nurse in the UK

Working as a nurse in the UK has a huge advantage, from the opportunity to help others to the high demand for the profession, not to mention the earning potential. One big advantage of the nursing profession in the UK is the diversity; multiple specialities with different roles and responsibilities that gives you a wide variety of work environments and possible career progression.

Nursing in the UK has 6 main specialities nurses should choose from before starting to work in the UK, those are:

  • Adult nurse (RNA)
  • Mental health nurse (RNMH)
  • Learning disabilities nurse (RNLD)
  • Children’s nurse (RNC)
  • Midwife (RM)
  • Nursing associate (NAR)

After selecting and qualifying for one of those 6 key specialities, each one leads to a wide range of roles that you get to pick from. An example would be school nurse, prison nurse, health visitor, neonatal nurse, general practice nurse or occupational health nurses.

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3. Steps to Follow for Overseas Nurses

If you are an overseas registered nurse in your country or if you are considering nursing in the UK as a career for your future, This following guide from Benchmark OET can help steer you in the right direction.

As a starter, you are probably one of 3 people:

  1. A fully trained registered nurse in your home county
  2. A graduated overseas nurse who wants to get training and work in the UK
  3. Undergraduate, considering starting your education and training all in the UK

3.1 If you are a fully trained registered nurse in your home country


Step 1: Make sure you are prepared to register at the NMC

Financially: Total cost for fees and tests £1,170, excluding visa and travelling accommodations costs.

Stay alert for timing : NMC takes around 2 weeks to assess your application, once they approve you are qualified to apply for a registration, you have 2 years to complete the registration process, including taking CBT and OSCE exams which would require more time to travel so make sure you calculate all of it right.

Prepare the evidences needed before applying:

  • Identity proof: Just upload a copy of your valid passport.
  • Qualification proof: Upload a copy of your qualification certificate, your bachelor degree diploma in nursing, provide needed information about your education institution, and registration certificate if you are already registered as a trained nurse in your home country.
  • Health state: Provide a declaration of your health condition, if you have any disease or disability that can affect your work with patients. You also have to nominate a person to support your health declaration.
  • Proof of character: Provide police clearances from overseas countries you lived in for the whole past 10 years. Also provide DBS certificates if you have lived in the UK for more than 3 months.
  • Language evidence: Getting required scores in the recognized English language tests, IELTS Academic examination or OET examination You can bypass the language tests if you have been trained in English or registered and worked for at least a year in a major English-speaking country.
  • Professional indemnity arrangement: You don’t need it first when you apply, but you have to make sure it is on by the time you start practicing.

NMC provides an accurate and up-to-date pre application checklist to help you prepare your requirements, make sure you don’t forget anything.

Step 2: Complete your application to The NMC

  • Create your NMC Online account, supply all above prepared evidences especially qualification certificates, and pay the required evaluation fees £140
  • Decide ahead your field of specialty you want to pursue in nursing, as explained before.
  • NMC will review your application, contact you if any additional information is required, and finally if you meet all criteria, they will accept your application for registration.

Step 3: Apply for the Test of Competence (ToC)

It is needed to assess the skill and quality of knowledge the applicant has, and to make sure they are up to the level to join the NMC overseas register. It is two parts:

  1. CBT: Multiple-choice computer based test.
  2. OSCE: (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) which is a practical test. They test your clinical knowledge and your ability to act in different clinical scenarios. Starting from August 2021 the new OSCE has 10 stations rather than 6, for better assessment of the knowledge, behavior and skills of the candidate.

You must pass both tests within 2 years, and you can choose which one to start with as per your convenience.

Take care, you need a valid visa to travel to the UK for your OSCE exam. Before applying for a visa, you require a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) from an NHS trust which would act on your behalf to acquire the needed visa.

You need to take the competence test specific to your desired specialty of nursing.

Step 4: Complete your registration application

  • After passing the competence tests, pay the registration fees £153, complete your registration, and wait for NMC to verify your information. You will be informed of the result within 3 months of completing your application.
  • If your application got refused for any reason, you have a chance to appeal the NMC decision.
  • Once you get accepted, you will be given an NMC Personal Identification Number (PIN), this is your number in the NMC Register, and then congratulations are in order, you are now a registered UK nurse!

Step 5: Job searching and job applications

  • You can start applying for jobs once you complete the initial NMC assessment. In the UK, you work as a nurse in many places, for example nursing homes, private health care, or the NHS which is the largest single employer in the UK.
  • Once you succeed in becoming an NMC registered nurse, you will be able to practice in any hospital or trust you are employed in.
  • It is important to prepare your references, people who would vouch for your character and professional competence. As an overseas nurse, you need at least one reference from current & previous employer plus one reference from the university you obtained your degree from
  • You will also be set for interviews with potential employers who would want to test your personality, how you will fit in their health care facility, plus of course your clinical experience.
  • It is essential to keep in mind that you have to pay an annual fee for your NMC online account, also you need to revalidate your NMC registration every 3 years.

3.2 If you are a graduated overseas nurse who wants to train and work in the UK

  • If you already have an undergraduate nursing degree.
  • You can apply to universities to obtain a postgraduate nursing degree.
  • It can take less than 2 years, and can differ according to the university.
  • Qualifications needed are different, check needed qualifications carefully.
  • You can also apply for Trainee nursing associates positions if you meet the required qualifications, but you will have to fund your own training.

3.3 If you are an undergraduate and considering a UK nursing course and registration

  • You can start your nursing career by applying directly to a university to get your nursing degree
  • Usually it takes about 3-4 years to get your undergraduate degree. Duration can be different from one university to the other.
  • Decide ahead your specialty in nursing. Some universities offer 2 degrees at once. You should look for the best university for you.
  • Before you apply, check the entry criteria for the university you are applying to.

4. Recognized English Language Tests by NMC

4.1 IELTS Academic exam certificate

  • Required score of either: An overall score of at least 7, with at least 6.5 in the writing section and at least 7 in the reading, listening and speaking sections.
  • Both paper based and computer-delivered IELTS delivered at a test center are acceptable.

4.2 OET exam certificate

  • OET costs $587 AUD / $455 USD
  • Overall grade B with at least a grade C+ in the writing section, and at least a grade B in the reading, listening and speaking sections.
  • OET on Paper and OET on Computer are both accepted. Starting from September 2020, NMC started recognizing OET@Home as well. OET@Home is a new computer-based English language test which can be taken from home.
  • Combining OET test scoresYou can achieve the required mark across two test sittings if:

    You sit the tests within six months, tested in all four sections at the same time, get grades above C+ in all sections in both sittings, and achieved at least a grade C+ in the writing section and at least a grade B in the reading, listening and speaking sections in either of the two test sittings.

4.2.1 Tips to achieve required score in OET test

    1. Learn about test structure to be able to set a time oriented study plan.
    2. Practice a lot, know your strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Take an OET course to help you prepare well for the exam.
    4. Benchmark OET offers high-quality online courses, full -length OET practice tests, reliable writing correction, speaking mock tests, which are both affordable and accessible 24/7 in order to help you get your required score faster to be able to secure your wanted job and help achieve your dreams.

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