How to Get Your Licence to Practice Medicine in New Zealand
If you’re a UK-based doctor considering a move to New Zealand, one of the most important things you’ll need to take care of along the way is ensuring you have a licence to practice medicine once you arrive.
Getting to Know the MCNZ
The Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) is New Zealand’s equivalent of the UK’s General Medical Council.
There’s a well-trodden path for UK doctors with two years of Foundation Training experience, which means that getting registered isn’t too complicated. But doing so requires following their process carefully. If you want your move abroad to go smoothly, you’ll need to be well prepared ahead of time, and that’s where this article will help.
Here, we’ll outline the step-by-step process to help you secure your licence with the MCNZ, giving you extra time to think about the more exciting aspects of a move to New Zealand.
Note: This article is written from the perspective of a post-F2 UK-trained doctor. If that’s not you, or you have unusual personal circumstances, you can use this tool to assess your options courtesy of the MCNZ.
Types of MCNZ Licences
You’ll start off on a six-month Provisional General Licence. This is somewhat similar to the GMC’s provisional licence to practice which you're on during F1 prior to full registration.
While in possession of this provisional licence, you’ll need to work under supervision and with a named supervisor. That means that if your employment, supervision, position, or location changes, you’ll need to apply for an amendment or variation to the endorsement on your scope of practice.
Once that six-month period is complete, you can apply to progress on to a full General Licence. As well as six months of experience, you’ll need to have received two consecutive satisfactory supervision reports within the six months immediately before your application for general scope, and you’ll also need a recommendation for general scope from your supervisor.
Following the Process
Step 1 – Completing the Necessary Forms
Firstly, there are two forms for you to complete:
One is just a simple checklist confirming your experience and GMC status, which helps them to identify whether you meet their criteria.
The second is a more detailed form capturing personal details, background, employment history, and so on.
It’s important to note that the MCNZ also requires references. To make things easier these can be the same ones you’ve used for your job application, but they must be “senior medical colleagues who are familiar with your current professional practice and have worked with you recently.” For more information, follow these requirements for references.
Step 2 – Verifying Your Documents
Next, you need to get your Medical School Diploma and your Confirmation of Completion of Internship verified. To do this, you need to login to the EPIC (Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials) system and follow that process. Again, its not overly complex but does have a few steps that need to be carefully followed. You can read the MCNZ's guide here (see the section called Provisional General Competent authority pathway)
Step 3 – MCNZ Interview
Once you’ve completed your application and submitted your documents for verification, you should expect to hear back from the MCNZ within a couple of weeks with an “eligibility for registration” letter.
This letter is for the benefit of other agencies, such as Immigration New Zealand, confirming that you’re able to be registered with the MCNZ. After you’ve received that letter, the next step will be going in for your interview.
Don’t worry, though, this is essentially more of a document-checking and form-filling meeting than a traditional interview you’d need to prepare for, but it is a formality that must be done in New Zealand by an MCNZ-approved notary. You can find more information about what the interview involves here.
Once this is out the way, and all the relevant paperwork has been approved, you’ll have to pay a practicing certificate fee. When that’s taken care of, you’ll be registered in a provisional general scope and will be issued a practicing certificate.
Getting a Head Start
In total, the process usually takes around a month, but could take longer depending on how busy the administrative staff are and what time of year it is (Christmas, for example, is likely to cause delays).
With that in mind, we’d recommend getting this process underway as soon as you have a job offer. It also doesn’t hurt to start pulling the paperwork and forms together in advance. This will ensure you’ve got a head start and will give you the best chance of sticking to your planned timelines. The last thing you’d want is to be unable to start work on the date your new hospital needs you!
There will be two main fees you’ll need to cover.
Firstly, the application fee for the registration (competent authority) is just over NZ$400 (£200). You pay this when you submit your application.
Secondly, the fee for your practicing certificate is another NZ$834 (£420) on top. You pay this once your registration is approved. However, depending on the time of year you apply you could pay a quarterly practicing certificate fee which is used when bringing a doctor into their registration cycle. For more information, check out this full breakdown of these fees here.
Evidently, your fees can end up being rather costly, so we’d suggest saving up as soon as possible. However, the good news is that you can claim the practicing certificate fee back once you eventually start work over in New Zealand.
Messly is Here to Help
Of course, moving to work in a new country is a complex undertaking, so remember that this registration is only one part of the larger process. You’ll also need to plan ahead to ensure you have a visa to work in New Zealand and manage the logistics of moving (like sorting your accommodation and bank account).
Thankfully, Messly is here to help. This article is part of a wider series, supporting doctors like yourself with a comprehensive set of guides to ensure your F3 year is a success. These guides cover everything from initial planning, options for moving abroad, help with finding work, and tips for making the most of the experience. Click here to visit our F3 Resource Hub to explore the full list of guides and articles.
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