Working as a Foreign Doctor in Ireland

The information you need

There are four components in the process:

A. Getting Registered with the Medical Council

It is essential to note that the registration with Medical Council of Ireland is mandatory to work as a doctor in the Republic of Ireland. The registration category varies with the individual, depending on his qualification and experience.
Medical Council does not play any role in obtaining a job or immigration. Individual doctors who wish to work in Ireland need to directly contact the medical council to assess their eligibility for registration, as rules and regulations may change time to time.

Medical council of Ireland
Lynn House
Portobello court
Lower Rathmines Road
Dublin 6
Telephone: (+353-1) 4965588
Fax: (+353-1) 4965972

Individual doctors should contact the medical council to assess their eligibility for registration. Most of the overseas doctors apply for "Temporary Registration" and this process is outlined in the subsequent sections. Most of the information are obtained from the Irish Medical Council publications.

What is Temporary registration?

Temporary Registration is defined as the form of registration that enables a doctor to practice medicine legally in an approved hospital so that he/she may return to his/her country of origin with a higher degree of competence to assume clinical responsibility for the clinical care of patients and with a measure of knowledge to ensure the high standards of the medical profession are upheld.

Temporary Registration is primarily intended for training whereby a doctor will have the opportunity to work in an approved hospital under supervision, in the specialty for which he/she is currently being trained.

Temporary Registration may be given to cater for service appointments which arise in approved hospitals where vacancies occur.

How long is it valid?

Temporary Registration is granted for a total aggregate period of five years(260 weeks) and is not extended under any circumstances.

Temporary Registration may be granted within the total aggregate period of five years, for a minimum period of a week (defined as Monday to Sunday inclusive - any portion of a week worked is counted as a full week) and a maximum period of 52 weeks.

The Medical Council, under section 29 of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978, may refuse to grant temporary registration at any time during the aggregate period of five years (260 weeks).


The Medical Council will not accept that any doctor possesses the requisite knowledge, skill and language proficiency unless he/she has passed or has been exempted from an Assessment Examination Scheme conducted by, or on behalf of, the Medical Council. The Assessment Scheme assesses the ability of the doctor to practice as a Senior House Officer, in a safe manner, under consultant supervision.

Applying for temporary registration

Doctors who wish to apply for temporary registration must complete fully Forms TR1/TR2 and attach the relevant supporting documents. The Forms will be considered by the Medical Council and assessed as to the applicant's suitability to apply for temporary registration.

The Medical Council will determine the applicant's eligibility to sit the Assessment Scheme or to be exempted from the Assessment Scheme. An applicant who considers he/she meets the criteria for exemption from the Assessment Scheme must specify, on the application form, the grounds on which the exemption is being sought.

All other applications will be considered for the purpose of sitting the Assessment Scheme. Applicants may be required to fulfil other conditions as specified by the Medical Council, to enable the Medical Council to make a decision in each case. Any expenses incurred by an applicant in fulfilling the Medical Council's requirements for granting temporary registration, are the responsibility of the applicant.

Applicants who fail to complete fully Forms TR1/TR2 and/or who fail to enclose the specified documents shall have their applications declared invalid by the Medical Council and the fee of IR400 pounds shall be forfeited.

Document(s) furnished in support of an application for temporary registration will be verified by the Medical Council. Where documents cannot be verified within a period of eight weeks of receipt, the application shall be declared invalid and the fee of IR400 pounds shall be forfeited.

Doctors declared eligible to sit the Assessment Scheme will be notified of the dates and locations of the assessments. Eligible candidates will be required to first sit the Assessment Scheme within a period of two years from the date of eligibility.

Doctors declared eligible to apply for temporary registration will be required, on making application for a initial period of temporary registration, to furnish the originals of all documents furnished in support of their applications a currently dated (within three months), certificate of good standing from the registration authority with which they hold full registration.

B. Assessment Examination

Doctors intending to work in Ireland must first apply to the Medical council of Ireland regarding their eligibility and the need to undergo assessment examination. Following are the information regarding the assessment scheme as outlined by the medical council.

The assessment is structured to assess the candidate's ability to demonstrate professional knowledge and clinical judgment along with English language skills. The subjects which are tested in the clinical components include

This assessment scheme comprises of two basic components.

English Language component

(a) The candidate's fluency in English will be assessed by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Modules. The test consists of four modules: Listening (30 minutes), Academic Reading (60 minutes), Academic Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (15 minutes).

(b) The minimum standard required is an overall band score of 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.0 in each of the four modules. For the purpose of admission to the Assessment Scheme for Temporary Registration, the IELTS test score will be valid for a maximum period of three years.

(c) IELTS can be taken at 210 approved centres in 105 countries. It is therefore possible for candidates to pass the test in their home countries before sitting the medical component of the Assessment Scheme for Temporary Registration. The IELTS test may also be taken at the same time as the medical component at specified test centres in Ireland.

(d) Applicants who intend to sit the IELTS in Ireland as part of the Assessment Scheme should complete the enclosed IELTS application form and return it to the Medical Council together with Forms TR1/TR2 and supporting documentation as specified. The codes required to complete the IELTS application form are attached together with contact addresses for further information and details of how to obtain IELTS specimen materials.

(e) Applicants who have sat the IELTS and obtained an overall band score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each of the four modules, should forward the original of their IELTS Test Report Form. The medical component of the Assessment Scheme must be passed within three years of obtaining the necessary IELTS result.

Medical component

This comprises of three sections:
1. Multiple choice questions
The Multiple Choice Question paper will consist of 60 questions with a total of 5 stems per question. The questions will be divided evenly among the following subjects: Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Psychiatry and Paediatrics. The examination will last for two-and-a-half hours.

2. Oral medical assessment
This test assesses the candidate's clinical knowledge and communication skills.( 20 minutes duration). This will be conducted by two medical assessors. One assessor will be drawn from a medical or surgical discipline while the other will be drawn from paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology or psychiatry.

3. Clinical Examination
This test in the form of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE ) and lasts for 90 minutes. Candidates rotate through a series of task units or stations, so that for any one station all candidates are assessed on the same issues by the same examiners.

At each station, the candidate is directly observed performing tasks such as:

  1. taking history
  2. performing physical examination
  3. demonstrating a practical procedure
  4. Interpreting a chest x-ray, ECG or lab results
  5. Patient management/ education exercises
There will be 15 stations in total including 2 rest stations. Each station is of 6 minutes duration.

Examination centres
The assessments are held in rotation in Dublin, Galway and Cork and take place on four occasions each year in one of these centres, provided there are a sufficient number of applicants for each assessment. The IELTS test usually takes place on the first day and the medical components usually take place on the second and third days. Candidates should allow 3-4 days to ensure completion of all components of the Assessment Scheme within the same assessment period.

A non-refundable fee of IR400 .00 pounds is payable to the Medical Council for the processing of each application, which is paid by an applicant when submitting the notarised copy of his/her diploma/degree. A non-refundable service fee of IR30.00 pounds is payable to the Medical Council for each subsequent attempt at the Assessment Scheme.

A separate fee is payable to the Medical School/Royal College at which the Assessment Scheme is held. The fee is payable for each attempt. The fee for the medical component is IR400 pounds and the fee for the English language component (IELTS) is IR75 pounds. Candidates sitting both components should furnish the combined fee of IR475 pounds, payable to the Medical Council, when returning the completed Entry Form. The appropriate fee will be forwarded to each body by the Medical Council. Candidates sitting only one component should furnish the appropriate fee.

All fees must be paid by bank draft in Irish punts. The current local exchange rate will be given by the bank when each bank draft is purchased. Personal cheques will not be accepted for payment of any fee associated with the Assessment Scheme for Temporary Registration, including the document examination fee paid to the Medical Council. Any additional bank charges incurred by the Medical Council, or the Medical School/Royal College holding the assessment, will be the responsibility of the applicant and must be paid in full by the applicant prior to sitting the Assessment Scheme.

Each candidate will be permitted four attempts at the Assessment Scheme.
Candidates who fail the medical component severely will not be permitted to re-sit the Assessment Scheme for a period of six months. Other failed candidates may re-sit the Assessment Scheme at the next available opportunity. A candidate who fails the medical component severely at the third attempt will not be allowed to re-sit the Assessment Scheme for two years. The Medical Council, on being furnished with the Assessment Scheme result by the Medical School/Royal College, will notify the candidate by letter, as soon as possible, whether the result is pass or fail. No diploma or certificate will be issued to successful candidates.

A successful result in an Assessment Scheme will remain valid for a period of three years.

A candidate who passes the Assessment Scheme may apply for employment in a hospital approved of by the Medical Council and temporary registration may be granted, on the doctor complying with the form and manner and the statutory provisions for the granting of such registration.

A candidate who is unsuccessful in the Assessment Scheme will be informed of the parts of the assessment which he/she failed and whether the failure was marginal or severe.

C. Securing your visa

Citizens of selected countries do not need visa to enter Ireland. The granting of a visa for Ireland is only a form of pre-entry clearance. It does not mean that you are granted permission to enter Ireland. With a visa you are only allowed to present yourself at the port of your arrival in Ireland. Immigration officers have authority to grant or deny your admission to the country.

You should always carry the original documents or copies of the documents that you have submitted with your application, because the immigration officers might ask to see them before they decide whether to allow your entry to Ireland.

A visa does not grant you permission to stay in Ireland. The date of validity on your visa indicates only the date before which you must present it to an immigration officer. An immigration officer at the port of entry will then decide the length of your stay. Children under sixteen years of age travelling with their parent or a legal guardian do not need visas to enter Ireland.

Applying for an Irish visa

If you want to apply for an Irish visa you should do this through the Irish Embassy or Consulate in the country of your permanent residence. If there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in the country where you permanently reside you can apply through any Irish Embassy or Consulate, through your referee in Ireland or directly by post to:

The Visa Office,
Department of Foreign Affairs,
69-71 St. Stephen’s Green,
Dublin 2,
tel. + 353 1 478 0822.

Regardless of your method of applying, you must submit your passport together with your visa application. Visas can not be issued unless passports are submitted. If you are not able to submit your passport with your application you must give the reason for this and indicate from which Irish Embassy or Consulate you propose to collect the visa. Only in those cases will you be allowed to submit photocopies of all the pages in your passport together with your application.

When applying for an Irish visa you need to submit the following documents:
Passport valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure from Ireland.
Visa application form filled out correctly, in block capital letters, and signed by the applicant.
You will get this form at the Irish Embassy/Consulate or Visa Office, depending on where you are applying.
Three recently taken passport size colour photographs.
Other original documents to be submitted with visa applications, depending on the purpose of your trip to Ireland:
Fully registered doctor:

Temporary registered doctor:
To attend a conference:
For visit/holiday
For study/training/examination purposes

When to apply?

Some of the visa applications are processed quickly (e.g. those of government officials, businessman who travel frequently, people who have residence rights in Ireland or Europe, or have valid visas for other EU states). Other visa applications, such as those of people intending to work, study or come to Ireland as tourists may require more time to be processed. They are normally referred for decision to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In any case you should apply at least three weeks to eight weeks before the proposed date of arrival to Ireland.

Visa Fees

Citizens of certain countries have to pay application fees. The details of these fees are available from the Irish embassies/Consulates and Visa Office in Dublin . If you are applying directly to the Visa Office in Dublin you should submit together with your application the relevant fee in Irish pounds (bank drafts only, payable to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin). Application fees are non-refundable.

Change of visa status

Once you are granted an Irish visa based on the proposed purpose of your stay in Ireland (e.g. visit, study, accompanying spouse, examination, etc.) under Irish law you cannot get involved in any other activity or remain in the country for any purpose other than that for which the visa was granted. This means that if you want to undertake any activity in Ireland other than the one for which your visa was originally granted you have to leave the country and apply for a new visa. For further information contact the visa office.

D. Registering with the Police

If you are granted a visa and you propose to stay in Ireland for longer than three months you will have to register with the Gardaí (police) in the area where you reside. This usually applies to people who arrive to Ireland to work, start their business, study or are married to an Irish /EU citizen and are going to live in the country. This registration will in fact be your permission to reside. For the greater Dublin area the relevant registration office is the Immigration Office, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2, tel. + 353 1 475 5555.

Documents that are required for registration are:

The period of validity of your residence permission will be determined by e.g. the duration of the course or the validity of your work permit.

On registration you will be given a Certificate of Registration (Green Book) and you will be expected to keep your residence permit up to date for the duration of your stay in Ireland.

Good luck!

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