Government notice on impact of ‘no deal’ Brexit on recognition of professional qualifications

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One of these notices covered the recognition of professional qualifications, including those of Drs (including GPs) and nurses.

At present the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive is a reciprocal arrangement which enables European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to have their professional qualifications recognised in an EEA State other than the one in which the qualification was obtained. It provides several routes to do so, including:

  • Automatic recognition based on EEA-wide standards or professional experience (recognition based on EEA-wide standards applies to: doctors, nurses, dental practitioners, veterinary surgeons, midwives, pharmacists and architects).
  • The ‘general system’ under which, subject to certain exceptions, regulators must not refuse, on grounds of inadequate qualifications, applicants who seek to practise a regulated profession in the UK if they hold the qualifications required by an EEA State. In certain cases, regulators may require an applicant to complete either an aptitude test or an adaptation period before allowing the applicant to practise the regulated profession in the UK.
  • A mechanism for those who want to work on a temporary or occasional basis in another EEA State, including the role of the regulator and the procedures and formalities with which an applicant must comply.

The Directive applies in general to regulated professions including GPs – see the database of regulated professions for further info.

The current version of the MRPQ Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC as amended by Directive 2013/55/EU) has been implemented in the UK by the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015 (MRPQ Regulations). This is supplemented by sector-specific legislation.

After March 2019 if there’s no deal

The MRPQ Directive will no longer apply to the UK and there will be no system of reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications between the remaining EEA states and the UK.

The Government notice says that the UK will ensure that professionals arriving in the UK from the EEA after the exit date will have a means to seek recognition of their qualifications. However, this will differ from the current arrangements. Automatic recognition, or temporary access to regulated activities on the basis of a declaration, will no longer be applicable.

The government will share details of the new procedure in due course and applicants should contact the relevant regulators at the appropriate time.


For EEA professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA qualifications) who are already established and have received a recognition decision in the UK, this recognition decision will not be affected and will remain valid.

EEA professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA qualifications) who have not started an application for a recognition decision in the UK before exit will be subject to future arrangements, which will be published before exit day.

EEA professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA qualifications) who have applied for a recognition decision and are awaiting a decision on exit day will, as far as possible, be able to conclude their applications in line with the provisions of the MRPQ Directive.

Read the full release here.


Last updated : 21 Nov 2018