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International optometrists

If you are an optometrist who has qualified outside of the UK or Switzerland you can choose to apply for this route to registration. 

You can only apply for this route to registration if you:

  • have undertaken at least three years’ full time (or equivalent part-time) optometric training, either post baccalaureate or from the age of 18, and completed that qualification in the country of training;
  • are legally qualified to practise optometry in a country outside of the UK;
  • have practised for one year in the last ten years (unsupervised practice, post-qualification) or be registered with a regulatory body in your country of practice; and
  • 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, with the exception of the ‘Speaking’ section, where a minimum score of 7 is required.
Outline of route to registration 

Stage 1: Initial scrutiny of the application by GOC staff to ensure that it is complete and contains all relevant supporting documents.

Stage 2:

  • Our non-UK assessors will map your qualifications and experience against the UK standards of competence and assess whether these are equivalent to the GOC’s stage 1 and stage 2 competencies and minimum patient experience requirements. We will then advise whether you require any further academic training or whether you can progress to undertake of the College of Optometrists’ Scheme for Registration. You may also be invited to an interview with the assessors. If further academic training is required, the assessors will specify what types of modules need to be completed at undergraduate level.
  • If you are invited to an interview, this will take place between you and two non-UK assessors with the purpose of further assisting the assessors in assessing whether your qualifications and experience are equivalent to the GOC’s competencies and patient experience requirements. After the interview, we will write to you advise you of the outcome.

Stage 3: 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 College of Optometrists’ Scheme for Registration.

Stage 4: You will be required to successfully complete the Scheme for Registration

Stage 5: You meet the GOC's requirements for registration and can apply for full registration 

Guidance on the interview

The applicant interview is an online interview between the applicant and two non-UK assessors.  One or more GOC staff members may also attend the interview.

The interview will assist the assessors in assessing whether the applicant’s qualifications and experience are equivalent to the GOC’s stage 1 and stage 2 competencies and patient contact requirements.  It will give the assessors an opportunity to discuss your application with you and clarify any areas that are unclear, in doubt or whether information could be missing.

The interview will last for approximately one hour.

We will carry out identity checks at the start of the interview.

In order to prepare for the interview, you should re-read your application form and supporting documents and be prepared to discuss it and provide further detail about the information in the form.  You may be asked to confirm any additional information you provide during the interview in writing following the interview, providing supporting evidence as requested. 

Following the interview you will receive an outcome letter setting out how your qualifications and experience compare to the UK standards and what steps you will need to follow in order to enter the GOC register.

NB 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 get in contact to discuss your requirements with us at the time of arranging the interview.

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.

How to apply?

To apply you must first complete our self-assessment form here. If it is deemed appropriate for you to apply for this route to registration you will receive the application form. 

When you receive the form it will advise you what documentation we require. Please ensure that you correctly certify and translate your documents or your application could be rejected. 

 GOC Certification Guidance

If you have any further questions after reading this guidance please email

How much will it cost?

The international optometrists 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 the GOC with 28 days of request.  We will not be able to progress your application to the next stage until we have received payment.

After the interview stage, 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. 

If you undertake training within the UK (including completion of the Scheme for Registration), you will be required to apply for student registration in accordance with the GOC’s normal processes. 

The current fee for student registration is £30.

How long will it take?
  • Once you have submitted your application form, we will advise you within 28 days if we require any further information before progressing your application to the assessment stage. 
  • If your application progresses for an assessment it can take up to four months to assess including the interview stage. Any payment delays or unavailability for the interview will likely mean it will take longer than four months.
  • If further education and training is required, it will 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. The GOC cannot guarantee the timescale this part of the process will take.