NMC announces further improvements to help overseas applicants

10 September 2019

Nurses, midwives and nursing associates applying to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register from overseas are set to find the process easier and cheaper than ever before.

As part of the professional regulator’s commitment to improving its approach to overseas registration, the latest changes have been designed to offer a more efficient and streamlined experience and help ensure qualified nursing and midwifery professionals can get into practice where they are needed.

Coming into effect in October 2019, key improvements include:

  • Moving from a paper to an online application system from 7 October that provides applicants with a personal account to track their progress instantly.
  • Streamlined requirements to confirm a candidate’s competence - for example, instead of asking for training transcripts, the NMC will confirm they hold the qualification that would lead to registration in their home country.
  • A redesigned guidance page on the NMC website, including easy read guidelines and a new pre-application checklist tool that can be shared with employers and recruiters.
  • A further reduction in the cost of the computer based test (CBT) that overseas nurses, midwives and nursing associates must take to work in the UK. This will be reduced from £90 to £83 from 1 October – a 36% reduction in the total cost since 30 March 2019

Unnecessary delays in registration can mean applicants aren’t able to practice in their chosen profession and it can put them at risk of losing work or, sometimes, having to return home.

The NMC is making these changes to ensure that highly-skilled nursing and midwifery professionals can join the UK workforce as quickly as possible in order to carry out their role of delivering better, safer care for people using health and care services.

Emma Broadbent, Director of Registration and Revalidation at the NMC, said:

“We have listened to people’s feedback and I’m pleased to announce that future nurses, midwives and nursing associates from abroad will benefit from this improved process.

“We want to make sure that those who meet our requirements are able to join our register as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are hopeful that by simplifying the application process, and further reducing the computer based test cost, we will continue to make the UK an attractive option for those coming from abroad.

“This is another example of how the NMC is committed to positively addressing nursing and midwifery shortages that exist in health services, adult social care services and within local communities across the UK.”

The NMC has seen a significant increase – rising from 2,720 last year to 6,157 in March this year – in the number of nurses and midwives joining the register for the first time from outside of the EU.

This follows a number of changes in recent years made by the NMC to better support applicants through the registration process, which included an updated practical examination (OSCE) resit policy (allowing candidates to re-sit only the portion of the exam they failed), improved preparation materials (including a mock examination and marking criteria) and updated English language requirements.


Notes for editors

1. For media enquiries, please contact NMC press office on 020 7681 5415 or email media@nmc-uk.org.

2. More details on these changes and future plans can be found on our website.

3. In addition to the changes list above, the NMC will also be launching a new competency test in line with the new future nurse education standards from June 2020. More details will be posted on our website as they become available.

4. Registration data is available on our website.

5. There are around 700,000 nurses and midwives, and nursing associates (for England only), registered with the NMC to work in the UK. Around 10% of those are from overseas (outside the EU).

6. Last year the NMC made changes that enabled nurses and midwives from outside the EU to apply to work in the UK immediately after qualifying, rather than a 12 month waiting period. Read more here.

7. Last year the NMC also made changes to the requirements for nurses and midwives from outside the EU taking the Internal English Language Test System (IELTS) and improved the supporting information available to applicants. Read more here.

8. In response to the 9 September Home Office press release on a simpler process for nurses, midwives, doctors and dentists coming to the UK, our Director of Registration and Revalidation, Emma Broadbent said:

“We only have to look at our latest registration data report to see that nursing and midwifery professionals from overseas form a vital and highly valued part of delivering better, safer care for people within the UK’s health and care workforce. This Government change – removing barriers and making the process more straightforward – is therefore welcome news for everybody involved.

“This measure also chimes well with the NMC’s continued efforts to streamline the way overseas registrants join our register. I am delighted we will be announcing our own further improvements in the coming days.

“We will continue to work closely with the Home Office, and all our partners, across the health and care system, to help ensure the recruitment process for nurses, midwives and nursing associates is as efficient as possible.”