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A guide to CESR

  • June 15, 2018

CESR stands for Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration and it is the route to specialist registration for doctors who have not completed a GMC approved programme but who are able to demonstrate that their specialist training, qualifications, and experience are equivalent to the requirements for the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) award.

Please note that if you are an IMG who is already in a Consultant position - to go straight into the NHS as a substantive Consultant you will need to apply to the specialist register when applying for GMC Registration. However, this process is extremely lengthy and requires a lot of documentation.

Therefore, we advise for you to apply to the NHS as a Speciality Doctor or a Locum/Fixed-Term Consultant then use the CESR route to become a Consultant - the process is outlined below.

What is the advantage of CESR?

CESR holders can apply for substantive consultant posts in the UK.

Who can apply for CESR?

To apply you will need to have either a specialist qualification or have undertaken a period of specialist training (not less than 6 months anywhere in the world).

However, to be awarded a CESR, you must demonstrate that your specialist qualifications and/or specialist training, together with any other knowledge, skills and experience (this can be gained in non-training posts) are equivalent to a CCT in the specialty in question.

How do I apply for CESR?

You will need to apply directly through the GMC, who will then send your application to the relevant Royal College for evaluation.

Please note that the CESR application process is enormously lengthy and often very stressful and so it is very important that you read the GMC’s general guidance and specialty-specific guidance before starting to put together an application.

To apply you will need to provide a portfolio of evidence demonstrating that your specialist training and/or specialist qualifications are equivalent to the award of a Certificate of Completion of Training in your relevant specialty in the UK.

Throughout your application, your demonstrated evidence will need to equivalate to the curriculum current at the time of application. You will also have to demonstrate that you gained the competencies and that you are currently maintaining those competencies across the depth and breadth of the curriculum.

What will the GMC assess my application on?

The GMC will test you under four domains which mirror Good Medical Practice.

  1. Knowledge, Skills and Performance
  2. Safety and Quality
  3. Communication, Partnership and Teamwork
  4. Maintaining Trust

Please note that you will not be able to compensate for shortfalls in your evidence of training and experience in an area of the curriculum by providing extra evidence in other areas.

If my application is unsuccessful, what are my options?

If your CESR application comes back as unsuccessful you will be entitled to submit a review application within twelve months of receiving the decision letter regarding the outcome.

Under the review, you would be expected to submit the evidence that you did not submit within the first application. Alternatively, under precise circumstances, you would be able to appeal against the overall decision.

Remember to:

  • Anonymise your evidence appropriately
  • Validate your evidence appropriately
  • Authenticate your evidence appropriately
  • For any documents that are not in English, ensure these are translated appropriately
  • Select the right referees

For further information on how to carry out the above please visit the GMC’s site.

Tips on applying for CESR

1. It is a marathon, not a sprint

The GMC claims that it can take between six-nine months between submitting your CESR application and receiving a decision. In addition, the process of preparing your documentation and applying for CESR can also take a similar amount of time.

We, therefore, advise that to estimate the amount of time it will take to get hold of the evidence you need for your CESR application, then double it.

2. E-portfolio

Having an e-portfolio is a good way of collecting and storing your evidence.

3. Acknowledge your missing skills and experience

From experience, doctors often worry that if their appraisal suggested that they were not ready to be a consultant in any way they were not ready. However, doctors have informed us that when their application was submitted, they were commended for identifying gaps in learning and experience and then trying to resolve them.

4. NHS pension statement

To apply for CESR, you are required to evidence your NHS employment history. The NHS pension scheme keeps a record of every place you have worked, so asking for a printout of your pension statement will provide you with a good list.

5. Consider all evidence that will contribute to your application

Doctors have revealed that the more evidence uploaded to support their application the better. The evidence you may not have considered can include your hand-washing certificate or your Trust’s equality and diversity questionnaire.

6. Inform someone

After you have made the decision to begin your CESR application you should tell your Clinical Director and Medical Director. This will allow them to provide you with support, guidance and advice. Furthermore, you should also look for any opportunities where you could step in as a consultant within your specialty. Examples include covering a consultant on a ward round or covering a consultant’s planned two-week leave. You should note that this is not mandatory but will most definitely strengthen your application.

If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] and we will be happy to help you. And head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK.


Willis, D. (2018). BMJ Careers – CESR: a guide to survival. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 May 2018]


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