Let us know if you agree to cookies

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all cookies.

Skip to main navigation

Skip to main content

Qualification requirements (EEA and Switzerland)

Information for applicants who qualified as a social worker outside UK. 

If you qualified as a social worker in an EEA country or Switzerland 

Last updated: 20 November 2020

Please note, this guidance is only for people with an EEA or Swiss qualification who apply to join the register before 1 January 2021. Anyone with an EEA or Swiss qualification who applies to join the register after 1 January 2021 should apply via the overseas application route.

To register as a social worker, you must have completed a recognised social work qualification. 

Mutual recognition of professional qualifications

The mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) directive 2005/36/EC enables people to have their professional qualifications recognised across the EEA and Switzerland. This is to allow citizens to move freely between these states to practise their profession.

You are eligible to apply for registration under recognition of professional qualifications legislation if:

  • you are a citizen of an EEA member state or Switzerland or you have EU enforceable rights, for example through marriage (this is a complicated area of law, we suggest seeking independent legal advice if you think this applies to you).

And you are either:

  • a fully qualified social worker in an EEA member state or Switzerland (if social work is not regulated in that state you must also have practised there for at least 1 year within the last 10 years)


  • you qualified outside the EEA and Switzerland, and your qualification has been recognised by an EEA state or Switzerland. You must also have practised as a social worker in the recognising state for at least 3 years within the last 10 years

If the above statements do not apply to you, you will need to apply as an overseas applicant.

Evidence of your qualification

You will need to provide:

  • your certificate
  • the name and address of your course provider
  • the name and address of the awarding body
  • a full transcript showing all the modules you studied

Your certificate must show the date your qualification was awarded. If it doesn’t, you will need a letter from your course provider confirming this date.

If we feel there are significant areas in which your application does not show that your skills, knowledge and experience meet our standards, we may ask you to undertake a period of adaptation. This is a period of supervised practice and/or academic training intended to make up for the shortfalls that have been identified.

Read more about periods of adaptation

Qualifications awarded more than 5 years ago

If you have been practising as a social worker

If you've been practising as a registered social worker outside England, you need to tell us:

  • the regulatory body you were, or are, registered with
  • your registration number with that body
  • the dates of your registration period

If there was not a regulatory body in the country in which you practised, you must provide us with information about the work you were doing. For each role, you should provide:

  • your job title
  • the name, address and email address of your employer
  • the dates of your employment
  • a description of your duties
  • dates and details of any training, relevant study or CPD you completed

Our registration advisers, who are qualified social workers, will then make a decision about whether this work is enough to exempt you from a period of updating your skills and knowledge.

If you’ve not been practising as a social worker since you qualified

If you gained your recognised social work qualification more than five years ago and you’ve not been practising as a registered social worker for at least 12 months within the last 5 years, you’ll need to give us evidence to show how you have kept your skills, knowledge and experience up to date.

You can do this by providing evidence that you’ve completed relevant education and/or training. This must cover at least 60 days in the 12 months before you make your application. A day is defined as a minimum of seven hours. The 60 days do not need to be continuous.

You can use one or more of the following three options to update your skills, knowledge and experience:

  • Supervised practice 
  • Formal study
  • Private study

Private study can make up no more than half of the required period of updating your skills, knowledge and experience. This means that you can undertake private study for up to 30 of the required 60 days.

Read more about how to update your skills, knowledge and experience

Back to top