International optometrists

Information for optometrists who have qualified outside of the UK or Switzerland

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If you are an optometrist who has qualified outside of the outside of the UK or Switzerland you must first visit this GOC webpage and apply for registration.

Once you have satisfied the GOC criteria, you will be required to successfully complete the College’s Scheme for Registration, details of which are below.


Scheme for Registration Guidance for Non-UK Applicants

The Scheme for Registration is the United Kingdom’s programme for pre-registration trainees. It consists of work-based assessments and a final practical examination which takes the form of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination, or OSCE. This assess trainees against the GOC elements of competence. Trainees who successfully complete the Scheme in the necessary time will be eligible to join the GOC register as an optometrist.

Optometry in the UK

There are a number of different ways to work as an optometrist in the UK. The following links provide some further guidance and are important to read before you apply for the Scheme:

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To be able to enter the Scheme for Registration as a non-EEA trainee, you must first have met the GOC criteria set out on their website. We cannot accept your application if you have not first been through this process successfully.

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The current fee for the Scheme of Registration is £3,740.

Find out full details of what this entails, as well as the various payment options.

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The Scheme – An Overview

The Scheme for Registration consists of a work-based assessment and a Final Assessment OSCE, both of which must be completed within 2 years and 3 months from enrolment, or sooner depending on visa arrangements. A good trainee, however, might expect to finish the scheme in 12 months.

The work-based assessment is divided into two stages. Both stages consist of assessments carried out as you work in a pre-registration placement, under supervision. Stage 1 normally consists of three to five scheduled assessment visits, where you are observed carrying out day-to-day tasks and assessed on the GOC’s 75 elements of competence by one of our College assessors. In Stage 2 you undergo a three to four hour assessment, again carried about by a College assessor in your practice, including a routine eye examination, a soft contact lens fitting with aftercare and a case discussion around your records. You are also assessed on the over-arching competencies, as in Stage 1.

On completion of Stage 2, you can apply to sit the Final Assessment OSCE. This takes place 4 times a year in London. The OSCE consists of a series of five-minute stations, where you carry out tasks based on the 75 GOC elements of competence covered at Stage 1 and Stage 2. The examiners are looking for evidence that you understand the theory behind each element of competence and can apply it in a practical clinical setting.

On passing the OSCE, you can then apply to join the GOC register as an optometrist.

More detail on the different stages of the Scheme for Registration.

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Additional Criteria for non-UK trainees

English Language Competency
In addition to meeting the GOC competencies, you must also continue to demonstrate a good level of English throughout the Scheme of Registration. If you fail to do this, we are required to report it to the GOC.

Visa Arrangements
In order to work in the UK, you will need to have an appropriate visa arrangement between you and your employer. The College is an approved licensed sponsor under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) scheme. This means the College can issue Certificates of Sponsorship to Non-UK students, who meet the necessary criteria, in order for them to complete the Scheme for Registration in the UK. 

Please note that is it up to the trainee to ensure that all visa arrangements are in place before applying for the Scheme. More information on visa arrangements can be found on the UK government’s Visa and Immigration website.

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Next steps

  • Find a pre-registration placement (subject to necessary visa arrangements). Get advice on finding a placement and a list of current vacancies.
  • When you are ready to enrol, please contact us by calling (+44) 0207 839 6000 or email, and one of our team will be happy to talk you through the application process.
  • Once you receive your college login, watch our ‘Plan Your Career’ videos that outline the different career paths available to you.

    Note: you will only be able to login to access this once you have enrolled with the College.

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