International optometrists

New application eligibility requirements from 15 January 2024

For all new applications received on and after 15 January 2024, you will be required to verify your professional qualifications through our partner’s platform, Qualification Check (QC). They use a Global Verification service to check your academic or professional qualifications directly with the education institute. There will be a cost for this service, the prices are available on the QC website.

Guidance to complete a Qualification Check

Please see our step-by-step guide to complete the QC check. The QC check must be completed prior to submitting your international application to the General Optical Council (GOC) or the application will be closed.

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 profession is 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.

Once you receive your application form

Prior to submitting your completed application form to the GOC, your qualification needs to be verified using our partner’s platform Qualification Check (QC), the link is also provided within the email sent with your application form. Please see our step-by-step guide to complete the QC check.

The completed application form and supportive documents should be emailed to international@optical.org. Please do not submit hard copies by post.

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. These payments should be made within 14 days of the invoice being issued:

  • £125 scrutiny fee of the application form and supporting documents;
  • £450 for assessment of the application; and
  • £200 for the interview.
  • Total: £775

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.

Outline of route to registration

Once we have received the completed application form and relevant supporting documents, you will be required to pay the scrutiny fee. This is to be paid as soon as possible within 14 days. Please note that the application will be cancelled if the fee is not paid within this timescale.  

Stage 1:

Initial scrutiny of the application will be completed by our staff to ensure that your application meets our requirements and that you have provided all the necessary documents and information. We will contact you if we require further details.

How long will it take:

  • Once the fee has been received the initial scrutiny of your application will be made, you will be contacted if any additional information is required.  This review will be completed within 28 days from the date that the fee has been paid.

Stage 2:

Once all relevant documents have been received and your application meets our requirements, you will be required to pay the assessment fee. This is to be paid as soon as possible, within 14 days. Please note that the application will be cancelled if the fee is not paid within this timescale.  Once the fee has been received the application will be sent to our panel of assessors.

  • 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 virtually between you and two non-UK assessors. The interview will give the assessors an opportunity to discuss your application.

How long will it take:

  • This assessment will be completed within 5 months from the date that the fee has been paid.

Once the assessment has been completed you will be informed whether you can proceed to the interview stage or if your application has been rejected.

Stage 3:

If you are to proceed to interview stage, you will be required to pay the interview fee. This is to be paid as soon as possible, within 14 days. Please note that the application will be cancelled if the fee is not paid within this timescale.  

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.

How long will it take:

  • Once the fee has been received, we will be able to secure the interview slot you have been allocated. We are unable to secure any bookings until payment has been received. This can take up to 4 months depending on the availability of both you and the reviewing assessors,
  • Once the interview has concluded you will receive an outcome letter within 7 working days.

Guidance on the interview:

  • The interview will take place virtually via Microsoft Teams so please ensure that you have a reliable internet connection for the purpose of 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.

Stage 4:

The non-UK Assessors will provide you with one of the following recommendations:

  1. You will be recommended to  complete the Scheme for Registration.

Or

  1. You will recommended to complete the Scheme for Registration however during the course you will be required to complete trailing competencies.

Or

  1. 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. 

Or

  1. You will be recommended to undertake adaption courses in addition to trailing competencies once you commence the Scheme for registration.

Or

  1. 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.

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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