All Occupational Therapists employed in the National Health
Service in the United Kingdom are required by law to be State
Registered, including Occupational Therapists who trained in
member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).
Occupational Therapy in the UK, is a regulated profession. This
means there is one minimum standard of qualifying education for
entry to the profession. All those who are assessed as having
reached that standard are granted State Registration and a legal
licence to practice the profession in the UK. Registration is
designed to protect the public and maintain professional
The Health Professions Council (formerly CPSM), as the
regulatory authority, deals with applications for UK State
Registration. It grants eligible Occupational Therapists a
licence to practise, maintains a register of such Occupational
Therapists and has disciplinary powers. Obtaining and
maintaining a licence to practice from the HPC is a legal
requirement. Applications for state registration should be made
on the official application form, available from the HPC.
British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College
of Occupational Therapists (COT) is the trade union, educational
and professional body for UK Occupational Therapists and
Occupational Therapy students.
Wherever possible, apply from your own country where you will
have easier access to the required documentation and a means of
financial support whilst waiting for the completion of the
registration process. Job seekers first need to know whether a
period of adaptation might be needed and what this could mean in
terms of time and cost.
If you trained outside the EU, academic equivalence between
your qualifying education and that in the UK must be established
before the HPC can process your application.
Your country of training and nationality are different. It is
your country of training, and not your nationality, which is
relevant to the HPC when assessing your application for
registration. If you were trained in an EU country but are a
non-EU national, then the usual regulations would apply in
respect of UK entry clearance and work permit regulations for
non-EU citizens. Alternatively if you were trained outside the
EU but are an EU citizen, you would have free entry to the UK to
seek work without a permit.
Whilst there is no
automatic recognition of professional qualifications or the
right to work in any member state, all applicants have a right
to be considered.
An applicant's qualifying education should broadly correspond
with the UK BSc degree programme in terms of academic
equivalence and scope of study. Applicants are compared with the
standard of a newly qualified UK-trained Occupational Therapist,
across the whole range of skills and knowledge required.
Occupational Therapists with training and post-qualification
experience equivalent to the UK BSc degree will be automatically
eligible for State Registration.
Where academic or clinical shortfalls have been identified,
applicants will be offered a period of adaptation. The
recommendation may be a further course of study, or a period of
supervised clinical practice in a UK hospital, as specified by
the Occupational Therapy Board of the CPSM.
All applicants from outside the EEA, whose training and
post-qualification experience has been assessed as equivalent to
a UK BSc degree will always be considered for state
Wherever possible applicants will be recommended to undertake a
period of adaptation to deal with identified differences in
scope of practice as above.
Non-UK trained applicants who are required by the HPC to
undertake a period of adaptation can either
find a hospital willing to provide clinical supervision or
follow a course approved by the HPC.
Occupational Therapists from member states of the EU countries do not require work
Nationals of other countries must be in possession of a work
It is not advisable to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor in
the expectation that permission to work can be obtained
afterwards. There is no guarantee that permission will be
granted in such circumstances.
The following do not require work permits:
Holders of United Kingdom passports
Nationals of Member States of the European Union (EU)
Commonwealth citizens who have entry clearance; prior
application must be made to the British Representative of the
country of residence.
Commonwealth Citizens between the ages of 17 & 27 years wanting
to take a working holiday in the UK can work as Occupational
Therapists. The immigration and nationality department has set
out the criteria for the Working Holiday Visa Scheme.
There is a national shortage of occupational therapists and the
demand is high. After qualification, most occupational
therapists have the opportunity to gain experience in a range of
different service areas, before choosing to specialise in senior
At present there are a large number of job vacancies throughout
the UK and qualified state registered therapists enjoy excellent
career opportunities in a variety of clinical, research,
teaching and management posts.
You can not work as an occupational therapist whilst you are
waiting for the HPC process to be completed. No one may work as
an occupational therapist in the UK without State Registration.
If you are an EU citizen, or have a working holidaymaker visa,
you are free to seek work in the UK, other than as an occupational
therapist, whilst waiting for State Registration.
For example you could work as an occupational therapist assistant.
If you have been offered a period of adaptation by the HPC and
have entry clearance to the UK, then you can, regardless of your
country of training, work as an occupational therapy assistant
whilst you are waiting for the HPC process to be completed.
Some Occupational Therapists come to an arrangement with the
hospital providing their period of adaptation. The hospital
provides clinical supervision for the period of adaptation, and
the Occupational Therapist works as an assistant for the
hospital (where there is a vacancy). The two activities must be
If you have undertaken a Masters program as part of continuing
professional development, the HPC will still need to assess your
qualifying education. Masters level programs deepen knowledge
in particular areas but the registration process checks for
broad coverage of all topics at a minimum level.
You do need UK State Registration in order to touch patients as
part of your Masters programme, unless it is a purely
theoretical degree. If you are an EU citizen with UK State
Registration, you may work as an occupational therapist whilst
you are a student.
If you are a citizen of any other country and are registered,
you may be able to work for a few hours each week on your
student visa. If you are a student without UK State
Registration, you may work as an occupational therapist assistant
on a student visa.