New to NHS Dentistry in England


Dentists who have graduated outside the UK


Dentists in this group fall into two categories depending on whether you qualified inside or outside the EEA and the two groups have different pathways to primary care dental practice in the UK.

The rules governing dental practice in the UK are complex. You should contact the General Dental Council (GDC) to gain information about the latest registration requirements. Full details are on their website at  We would also advise you read the latest government information on working in the UK the UK Visas and Immigration website.

If you have qualified outside the EEA you will probably have to pass the Overseas Registration Examination (ORE) before you can register with the GDC.  Details about the ORE can be found on the GDC website. If you have a qualification from within the EEA you will not have to take the ORE.

Once you are registered with the GDC you will have to decide how and where you wish to work. This could be in primary or secondary care, in the NHS or privately. Job advertisements can be found in the British Dental Journal. If you wish to work in primary care NHS dentistry and have managed to find a position you will need to apply to join the national Performers List. The regulations that cover inclusion on a Performers List are in the National Health Service (Performers List) (England) Regulations 2013.

The application pack for inclusion on the Performers List can be obtained here. You will have to submit several documents to the NHS England (North East and Cumbria) where you wish to work and you will have to show that you:

  • have completed Dental Foundation Training/Vocational Training or;
  • can demonstrate experience equivalent to Dental Foundation Training or;
  • are exempt from the requirement to undertake Dental Foundation Training.

Additional information about how NHS England will process your application can be found in Annex 6 (Page 40) of their guidance.

You will be exempt from the requirement if you qualified in the EEA (unless you qualified at a UK dental school). NHS England will assess your application in this regard and may nevertheless wish to have some form of assessment if you have had limited or no experience of working in the NHS in primary care or have had a significant career break. You will also have to satisfy language requirements such as the International English Language Testing System or an equivalent if you are going to work in an NHS dental practice.

If none of the above bullet points applies to you, you can apply for entry to the Performers List via an assessment process. This involves submitting an application the NHSE Local Office which is then forwarded on to a Health Education England Local Office assessment panel. The assessment panel will advise the Postgraduate Dental Dean if further training is necessary and, if so, the form that training should take to demonstrate a series of nationally-agreed competencies (this is known as Performers List Validation by Experienc (PLVE)). The competency framework can be found here. Please click here to see how your application will be assessed by the Directorate.  Applications received after 1 October 2017 will be subject to the national charging structure.

If a period of time in training is required the practice in which you wish to work will need to apply to the Directorate to be considered for training and will subsequently have an assessment by means of a practice visit and an interview with the prospective mentor, unless either have been assessed recently. Assuming that the practice and mentor assessments are satisfactory a training programme will be devised to help you address the DFT competencies that have not been demonstrated. There are occasions, however, when a practice or a proposed mentor are not deemed suitable to carry out training. You would then have to find an alternative practice and mentor.

At the end of the training period your will submit a portfolio of evidence to allow the Directorate will assess whether you have demonstrated the competencies required for completion of PLVE, allowing you to apply to remain on the Performers List.

Our DFTQ policy sets out all of the information relating to the process for those who qualified outside the EEA, or are required to undertake PLVE for any other reason.

These processes are not applicable if you are going to work solely in non-NHS practice or in secondary care.

For any further enquiries, please contact us or click here to access guidance from the Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors (COPDEND).