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Background information

07 February, 2024

Registration of dentists who qualify overseas

Dentists who practise in the UK must be registered with the General Dental Council. For those who have qualified outside the UK, their route to registration will depend on where they qualified. Those who qualified within the EU/EEA have their qualifications automatically recognised under the standstill arrangements which were extended by the Government until June 2028.

Those who have qualified outside the UK or EU/EEA must pass the Overseas Registration Examination (ORE), thereby demonstrating that they meet the standards we require of dentists in the UK.  

The ORE is a rigorous examination designed to ensure public safety. It aligns with the in the UK. Once a candidate passes the ORE, they are eligible to apply for UK registration.

Successful registration allows a dentist to legally practise dentistry in the UK but does not provide access to an NHS Dental Performers List (in any UK nation), which is a requirement to provide treatment under an NHS contract.

The exam is in two parts. Part 1 is a computer-based written exam, and is designed to test candidates’ application of knowledge to clinical practice.  Part 2 is a practical test designed to assess candidates’ practical clinical skills. 

The structure, content and fees for the ORE were set out in legislation in 2015. They are restrictive. The fees for the exam were specified in those Rules. This has, in practice, meant that we have been unable to change the fee since 2015. This has placed a constraint on the capacity, because the overall cost of providing the exam has increased since the fees were set and it was not reasonable to expect the shortfall in funding to be met by those on our register. 

Those Rules also set out that candidates had to pass Part 2 within five years of first attempting Part 1.

In 2023: 

  • 1087 dentists joined the register with a UK qualification.
  • 818 dentists joined the register with an EU qualification. 
  • 203 dentists joined the register having successfully passed the ORE.