International dispensing opticians

If you are a dispensing optician who has qualified outside of the UK or Switzerland, 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); 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 our guidance on Working in the UK.

How to apply

To apply you must first complete our 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.

If you have any further questions after reading the Document Certification Guidance please email

Outline of route to registration

Stage 1:

Initial scrutiny of the application by our staff to ensure that it is complete and contains all relevant supporting documents.

Stage 2:

  • Our assessors will map your qualifications and experience against the GOC’s dispensing optician core competencies (the UK standards of competence) and advise whether you require any further academic training or whether you can progress to undertake the theoretical examinations and the Pre-Qualification Period (PQP). You may also be invited to an interview with the assessors. If further academic training is required, the assessors will specify what types of modules need to be completed at undergraduate level.
  • If you are invited to an interview, this will take place between you and two assessors with the purpose of further assisting the assessors in assessing whether your qualifications and experience are equivalent to our competencies and patient experience requirements. After the interview, we will write to you to advise of the outcome.

Stage 3:

If you do not meet all of the competencies you will be required to undertake further academic training prior to completion of the theoretical examinations and the PQP.

Stage 4:

You will be required to register with an appropriate institute and successfully complete the theoretical examinations and the PQP (please note that the PQP can be started prior to completion of the theoretical examinations).

Stage 5:

You will be required to successfully complete the professional qualifying examinations (known at some institutes as the Preliminary Qualifying Examination (PQE) and Final Qualifying Examination (FQE) and at Anglia Ruskin University as the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) and competency assessments).

Stage 6:

You meet our requirements for registration and can apply for full registration.

Completion of the Pre-Qualification Period

If you are advised that you are suitable to undertake the theoretical examinations and enter the PQP, you will need to register with an institute that provides the PQP. It will be your responsibility to arrange a work placement and registered supervision. You will also be required to register as a student.

You should ensure that you have the appropriate visa requirements to work in the UK prior to entry to the PQP. The PQP can be undertaken at the following institutes:

  • Anglia Ruskin University (ARU)
  • Association of British Dispencing Opticians (ABDO)
  • Bradford College
  • City and Islington College

As part of the PQP you will be required to complete the Pre-Qualification Period Portfolio by logging 1,600 hours in practice (in no less than 200 days) and prepare a case record portfolio.

You may also need to register as a student with ABDO which administers the PQP for some of the institutes listed above – your institute will advise you. Further information about the PQP can be found on ABDO's website.

Completion of the professional qualifying examinations

These examinations are practical assessments and can be undertaken at ABDO if you are undertaking a level 6 qualification or at ARU if you have registered with them to undertake a level 5 qualification.

How much will it cost?

The non-EEA dispensing optician process includes the requirement to pay a number of different fees depending on progression of the application:

  • £125 scrutiny fee of the application form and supporting documents;
  • £450 for assessment of the application; and
  • £200 for the interview.

Please note that all fees are payable to us within 28 days of request. We will not be able to progress your application to the next stage until we have received payment. After the interview stage, if you are required to complete any further training, this will be at your own cost.

Fees for any further study, the theoretical examinations, and the PQP will be taken by the institute you study at and/or ABDO (where you may be required to register as a student member). Fees for the professional qualifying examinations will be payable to ABDO or ARU depending on where you undertake the examinations.

If you undertake training within the UK (including completion of the PQP), you will be required to apply for student registration in accordance with our normal processes. The current fee for GOC student registration is £30.

How long will it take?

Once you have submitted your application form we will advise you within 28 days if we require any further information before progressing your application to the assessment stage.

If your application progresses for an assessment it can take up to four months to assess including the interview stage.

Any payment delays or unavailability for the interview will likely mean it will take longer than four months.