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Working in the United Kingdom

You should ensure that you read the GOC’s Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians which sets out the standards of behaviour and performance expected of our registrants.  

Before applying to work in the UK, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate visa to do so.  Please refer to your potential employer and/or the UK Home Office for further information.

The following information applies to optometrists: 

The funding of sight tests varies across the four nations of the UK.  The Association of Optometrists provides guidance on their website on how sight tests are funded in the UK.

NB You should ensure that you can meet all of the relevant requirements before applying to the GOC register, as otherwise you may be able to enter the GOC register but not meet the requirements to work in the UK.


If you want to work as an optometrist in England you will likely want to apply to enter NHS England’s National Performers List which requires completion of a General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract so that you can carry out sight tests on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS).  The GOS contract has certain requirements which at the present time include: 

For those who gained their qualification outside of the UK or the Republic of Ireland they must also provide:

  • evidence of English language (please note that the scores required in IELTS are 7.5 – higher than those required by the GOC);
  • evidence of three months continuous professional employment from the past two years in a country where English is the first language (two clinical references required) (please note that NHS England may not approve your application if you have not carried out any sight tests for a number of years); and 
  • an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

You should refer to the NHS Area Team for the area in which you intend to work for more information about the requirements and how to apply. The Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) also gives advice on how to apply to enter the Performers List which includes a video guide about how to complete the form.

Northern Ireland

If you want to work as an optometrist in Northern Ireland and provide General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) in a contractor practice, you will need to formally apply to the Health and Social Care Board in order to be eligible to provide GOS. Applications for this are available at this link or by calling Ophthalmic Services on 028 9536 3745 and asking for information on professional enrolment as an optometrist in Northern Ireland.   

Most employers in Northern Ireland will require an AccessNI criminal records check. Information on this is available at this link


If you want to work as an optometrist in Scotland, you will need to obtain a General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) contract in Scotland.  This requires completion of a GOS Competency Training Assessment which is a practical assessment carried out on a live patient.

Please refer to the NHS Education for Scotland website for more information. 


If you want to work as an optometrist in Wales and you want to be able to provide an enhanced sight test – the Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) – you will need to be accredited by the Wales Optometric Postgraduate Centre (WOPEC). This accreditation involves undergoing theory and practical training. You must first be registered to a practice that provides EHEW before applying.

Please refer to the Wales Eye Care Services (WECS) website for more information.


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