International optometrists

Who can apply?

If you are an optometrist who has qualified outside of the UK or Switzerland, you can apply for this route of registration if:

  • You have undertaken three years’ full time (or equivalent part-time) optometry training at a post-baccalaureate level in your country of qualification.
  • You are legally qualified to practise optometry in a country outside of the UK;
  • You have practised for one year within the last ten years (unsupervised practice, post-qualification)
  • You are registered with a regulatory body in your country of practice (if your professions in regulated)
  • You 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, except for 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. We will respond to you via email within three working days and include details of all documentation required including an application form if eligible.

How much will it cost?

The international optometry 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.

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

How long will it take?

Upon receipt of your completed application form, you shall be issued with the scrutiny fee within five working days.

Within 28 days of receipt of the payment, a review of your application will be made, it will be at this stage you will be advised as to whether any further documentation is required.

Once all the mandatory documentation has been received the application will progress to the assessment stage, this can take approximately four months. Please note processing times may be extended due to high levels of applications. Also note any delays in providing documentation, payments, or availability to attend an interview may result in extended processing times.

Outline of route to registration

Stage 1:

Initial scrutiny of the application will be completed by our staff to ensure that it is complete and contains all relevant supporting documents. We will contact you if we require further details.

Stage 2:

  • Our non-UK assessors will compare your qualifications and experience against the UK standards of competence. They will assess whether these are equivalent to our stage 1 and stage 2 competencies and minimum patient experience requirements required of a UK graduate. They will also advise whether you can proceed to the interview or advise rejection of your application at this stage;
  • If you are invited to an interview, this will take place between you and two non-UK assessors. The interview will give the assessors an opportunity to discuss your application.

Stage 3:

After the interview, we will write to you to advise you of the outcome. The potential outcomes are:

If you are required to complete any further training, this will be at your own cost. Fees for the College of Optometrists’ Scheme for Registration will be taken by the College. Please see the College’s website for an up to date list of fees.

Stage 4:

You will be required to successfully complete the Scheme for Registration.


If you do not meet all of the stage 1 competencies, you will be required to undertake further academic training prior to completion of the Scheme for Registration.

  • Please note, if further education and training is required, the assessors will specifically identify which competencies have not been met. It will then be your responsibility to identify and secure a suitable provider to complete this. You will need to provide a proposal to the GOC for approval prior to starting the placement. Depending on the recommendation you may be required to pay a fee to the provider for their course. As the part of the process is dependent on you and the provider, we are unable to specify how long it may take to complete. 


Your application may be rejected as you have not met the mandatory criteria

Stage 5:

You have completed the scheme of registration and can apply for full registration as an optometrist.

Guidance on the interview

To prepare for the interview, you should re-read your application form and supporting documents. You should be prepared to discuss and provide further details.

If required, supporting evidence of any new information discussed in your interview may be requested.

If you have a disability within the scope of the Equality Act 2010, we may be able to make reasonable adjustments for you during the interview. Please advise your allocated Registration Officer at the point of your interview being arranged.

Completion of the Scheme for Registration

If you are advised that you are suitable to enter the College of Optometrists’ Scheme for Registration, it will be your responsibility to arrange a work placement and contact the College to apply for entry. Further information about the Scheme can be found on the College’s website.

You should also ensure that you have the appropriate visa requirements to work in the UK prior to entry to the Scheme. The College may be able to assist you in this regard.

There are time limits for completion of the Scheme as advised in the College’s guidelines. You will also need to pay their fee.

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