GPhC registered pharmacists: a guide to working abroad

This fact sheet gives some basic information for pharmacists who are currently registered in Great Britain who are considering working as a pharmacist in another country.

Getting started 

In the first instance pharmacists could:-

  • check the specific requirements with regards to working as a pharmacist for the country in which they are interested in living and working – see below
  • apply to the GPhC for a certificate of current professional status – see below
  • check the language requirements
  • investigate the job market in the country in which they are interested in living and working
  • check out embassy websites as these are a good starting point for finding out about work permits/visas.

Registration requirements

In order to practice as a pharmacist, some countries will require applicants to sit exams in order to prove their competency as a pharmacist. Once all other paperwork has been completed, some countries may require pharmacists to undergo a period of training before being recognised as an experienced pharmacist. Pharmacists should be aware that some countries, for example, America, will require applicants to sit an English exam, even when English is their first language. The authority responsible for access to the pharmacy profession in the host country will explain what documents are required.

Pharmacists should note that some countries will require pharmacists to have a job offer before going through the visa and/or registration process.

Some authorities will require certified copies of documents (to prove that they are genuine), and in some circumstances, they may request sworn translations for key documents. Often, authorities will have a list of preferred translators. Pharmacists will need to check with the individual regulator for their exact requirements.

Working in the European Union

Under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, Britain has two years to arrange new deals with EU member states. This means that there will be no change to the rules with regards working in the EU for the next two years. After this two year period, future arrangements will be announced by the government

At the moment, pharmacists who want to work within the European union must apply to the authority that oversees the profession in their country of choice. Authorities must acknowledge applications within one month of receipt and assess applicant’s qualifications and make a decision on individual applications within three months.

Pharmacists should note that in more complicated cases, this process can take up to four months.

For further information, see the European Commission website.

Certificate of current professional status

Ordinarily, pharmacists will need to ask the GPhC to send a certificate of current professional status (CCPS; formerly known as a Letter of good standing) and fitness to practise history to the relevant registration and/or regulatory authority. If there are no past or pending fitness to practise issues, the certificate will be created and sent directly to the relevant board. An administration fee is charged for this process.

In cases where there are past and pending fitness to practise matters, the certificate is created and sent, in the first instance, to the pharmacist who requested it. The GPhC will only forward this to the relevant board on receipt of written conformation from the pharmacist stating that they wish to proceed. Pharmacists have 21 days to respond, and should note that the administration fee is charged even if the CCPS is not forwarded.

For further information about the current professional status certificate, see the GPhC website.

Language requirements

Pharmacists who want to work abroad will also need to consider the language requirements of the country to which they are planning to move. Moving to a country where English is the official language, for example, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and America would be relatively straight forward, language wise, although additional languages may be useful and/or needed, for example, French would be a useful addition for Canada. However, some parts of Europe will require pharmacists to be fluent in the home language, and in some instances, for example, Belgium and Luxembourg, pharmacists will ideally need to be fluent in several European languages.

DuoLingo

DuoLingo is a website offering free language courses. Language choices include Dutch, German, Vietnamese and Turkish. For further information, see the DuoLingo website.

BBC languages

The BBC has a choice of 40 free language courses. These include French, Spanish, Italian and Greek. For further information, see the BBC Languages website.

Open culture

Open culture has a range of free on-line courses, their audio lessons can be downloaded to a computer or mp3 player. For further information, see the Open culture website.

Job market

Pharmacists can check with the professional pharmaceutical body in their preferred country to see what possible job opportunities might be available to them. Some large multiples may be wiling to sponsor an applicant and cover the costs of exams on the understanding that the candidate works for them once registered.

There are many websites and search engines that can help people to find job opportunities. Below are some suggestions.

Pharmiweb.com

Pharmiweb is a search engine that allows people to search by job type and preferred area of the world. For further details, see the Pharmiweb.com website.

Emedcareers

Emedcareers lists vacancies in Europe and has a facility for uploading a CV and will also email personalised jobs to pharmacists who request this service. For further information, see the Emedcareers website.

EuroPharmajobs

EuroPharmajobs has a search facility for job type and location, and will send out job alerts on request. For further information, see the EuroPharmajobs website.

Passports and visas

At the moment, UK passport holders can live, study or work anywhere within the European Economic Area (EEA) without a visa. Pharmacists who are planning to work outside the EEA may need a visa. The British Council (the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities) recommends that travellers have a passport that is valid for at least six months at the point of travel.

For further information about passports, travelling and living abroad, see the UK government website.

Health services and vaccinations

People who are moving abroad on a permanent basis will no longer be entitled to medical treatment in the UK under the normal NHS rules. The NHS recommends that people check to see what health services are available in their country of choice. People who register for work in an European Economic Area (EEA) country and begin to make national insurance contributions in that country will be entitled to state provided healthcare on the same basis as a national of that country. In all instances, pharmacists should check to ensure what health insurance is needed in advance of travelling. Equally, all pharmacists should check to see what, if any, inoculations are needed well in advance of travelling.

For a country-by-county guide to EEA and non-EEA healthcare, see the NHS website.

For further information about travel vaccinations for every country in the world, see the NHS fit for travel website.

Leaving the GPhC register

Pharmacists who do not wish to remain on the GPhC register will need to apply to have their details removed from the register. Pharmacists who allow their registration to lapse without informing the GPhC will be removed from the register and any future application to return to the register will be more complex and will also incur additional costs.

For further information about leaving the register, see the GPhC website.

Applying to register in another country – example 

Below is an example of the process that is needed in order to register as a pharmacist in another country. We have used the United States of America (USA) to demonstrate the process. Pharmacists should note that not all countries are this complicated, however, it gives an idea of how complex registration can be.

Registering in the USA

Pharmacists must be certified by the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC). The FPGEC is the committee of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and it will assess a pharmacist’s fitness to practise in the USA. Pharmacists will need to be graduates of an approved pharmacy programme in their home country and must be registered to practise in their home country.

Language requirements

All candidates must be fluent in English and must take the on-line Test of English as a Foreign Language – Internet Based Test (TOEFL-iBT) even if English is their first language.

Certifying exam

Pharmacists who have completed the FPGEC process will receive a letter of acceptance and an invitation to sit the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE). This currently consists of 250 multiple choice questions which must be completed within five and a half hours. Candidates are allowed up to five attempts at the FPGEE.

North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination

Pharmacists who have an FPGEC certificate will then need to sit the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). This exam is used by the American boards of pharmacy as part of their assessment of a candidate’s competence to practice as a pharmacist. The computer based exam consists of 186 questions covering areas such as measuring pharmacotherapy and therapeutic outcomes, preparing and dispensing medicines and the implementation and evaluation of information for the provision of optimal health care.

The Pre-NAPLEX

Pharmacists can take the Pre-Naplex. The Pre-Naplex is a 140 minute on-line practice exam. Pharmacists should note that there is a charge for each attempt at the practice exam.

Clinical training programme

Pharmacists who have completed all of the elements listed above can then apply for a license for the 1,000 hour clinical training programme. Programme participants are normally referred to as ‘pharmacy interns’. Pharmacists will have to arrange their own internship in either a hospital or community pharmacy setting.

American Boards of Pharmacy

Each American state has its own board of pharmacy. In the first instance, pharmacists should contact the board for the state in which they wish to work, in order to discuss the specific requirements needed to register.

European pharmaceutical regulatory/professional bodies

Please see below for a list of European pharmaceutical regulatory/professional bodies. These bodies can supply information about working in their country as a pharmacist.

Austria: Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists

Belgium: Belgian Pharmaceutical Association

Bulgaria: Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union

Croatia: Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists

Cyprus: Pancyprian Pharmaceutical Association

Czech Republic: Czech Chamber of Pharmacists

Denmark: The Association of Danish Pharmacies

Estonia: Estonian Pharmacies Association

Finland: Association of Finnish Pharmacies

France: Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France

Germany: Federal Union of German Pharmacists Association

Greece: Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association

Hungary: Hungarian Chamber of Pharmacists

Iceland: The Icelandic Medicines Agency

Ireland (North): Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland

Ireland (South): The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland

Italy: Federation of the Order of Italian Pharmacists

Latvia: State Agency of Medicines of the Republic of Latvia

Liechtenstein: Office of Health-Department of Pharmaceuticals

Lithuania: State Medicines Control Agency

Luxembourg: Union of Luxembourg Pharmacists

Malta: Malta Chamber of Pharmacists

Netherlands: Royal Dutch Pharmaceutical Association

Poland: Polish Pharmaceutical Chamber

Portugal (including Maderia): Pharmaceutical Society

Romania: The Romanian College of Pharmacists

Slovak Republic: Slovak Chamber of Pharmacists

Slovenia: Slovenian Chamber of Pharmacy

Spain: General Council of Spanish Pharmacists

Sweden: Swedish Pharmacy Association

Switzerland: Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products

Non-European pharmaceutical regulatory/professional bodies

Please see below for a list of non-European pharmaceutical regulatory/professional bodies. These bodies can supply information about working in their country as a pharmacist.

Australia: Pharmacy Board of Australia

Bahamas: The Bahamas Pharmacy Council

Bermuda: Bermuda Health Council

Canada: Canadian Pharmacists Association

Caribbean: Caribbean Association of Pharmacists

Fiji: Ministry of Health and Medical Services

India: The Indian Pharmaceutical Association

Jamaica: Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica

Japan: Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency

Malaysia: National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau

Malta: Malta Medicines Authority

Mauritius: Pharmaceutical Association of Mauritius

Pakistan: Pharmacy Council of Pakistan

Singapore: Singapore Pharmacy Council

South Africa: South African Pharmacy Council

Sri Lanka: Pharmaceutical Society of Sri Lanka

St. Lucia: The Pharmacy Council of St. Lucia

United Arab Emirates: Dubai Health Authority

United States of America: National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

New Zealand: Pharmacy Council of New Zealand

Pharmacists who cannot find the country in which they are interested on our list should contact the country’s embassy or use Google or a similar on-line search engine to find the contact details of the country’s pharmacy regulator.

Other useful organisations

Employed community Pharmacists In Europe 

Employed community Pharmacists In Europe (EPhEU) is a European wide organisation representing the interests of employed community pharmacists. For further information, see the EPhEU website.

Your Europe

Your Europe provides advice regarding the recognition of profession qualifications within Europe. For further information, see the Your Europe website.

Commonwealth Pharmacists Association

The Commonwealth Pharmacists Association is an organisation of Commonwealth professional pharmaceutical bodies and individual members. For further information, see the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association website.