Registration guidance, including guidance for new applicants and social workers who want to renew their registration.
Guidance on renewing your registration
Last updated: 28 August 2020
- About this guidance
- Our register
- Professional standards
- How to apply for renewal
- Continuing professional development
- Safe and effective practise declarations
- Criminal proceedings
- Health conditions
- Findings by other bodies
- Making a decision about your application
- Further information
- Listed offences
About this guidance
This guidance is for social workers who currently hold registration with Social Work England and who wish to renew their registration.
All registered social workers in England will be asked to renew their registration on an annual basis. Social workers can apply for renewal between 1 September to 30 November each year, and all successful social workers will have their registration renewed on 1 December.
See The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 13 for more information.
The Social Work England register is publicly available online. Anybody can search the register to check that a social worker is registered and find out:
- their Social Work England registration number
- whether they’re subject to any registration conditions
- the postal town in which they work
- whether they have additional qualifications enabling them to have their registration annotated as an approved mental health professional (AMHP) or best interests assessor (BIA)
- whether they’re subject to certain fitness to practise outcomes
‘Social worker’ is a protected title, meaning that only people on the register can practise as a social worker in England.
For more information see:
- The Social Workers Regulations 2018 reg 9(2) and reg 31 (1)
In order to apply for renewal you will need to confirm that you have read, understood, and will continue to comply with our professional standards.
These are the standards that we expect all social workers to meet and uphold throughout their registration and are necessary for safe and effective practice. They set out what a social worker in England must know, understand and do throughout their career.
Compliance with these standards is a requirement for continued registration, and any failure to do so maybe taken into account in fitness to practise proceedings.
For more information about the professional standards see:
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 50 (1) (b) and 15(6)
How to apply for renewal
You can use your online account to do the following:
- Apply for renewal
- Upload your continuing professional development (CPD)
- Check and update the information we hold about you
- Manage your direct debits
- Apply for annotations
The quickest and most reliable way to apply for renewal is through your online account.
We recommend that social workers use their online account to renew where at all possible. However, we recognise that this may be difficult for a small number of social workers. If you cannot access the online renewal form for some reason, you can also make an application to renew using a paper application form. To request a form, please contact us by phone on 0808 196 2274 or email at [email protected].
It takes at least 10 working days for us to process a paper application form. To be sure that we can process your form and deal with any subsequent questions that may arise, we recommend that you send in your renewals application form by 31 October so that we can complete the assessment by the end of the renewals period.
To complete the application form, you will need:
- An email address that we can use to contact you (if you’re applying online). You must be able to access emails from the address you give us at all times and keep this email address up to date.
- Details of any criminal convictions or cautions that you have not previously declared to us or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You do not need to tell us about a conviction or caution that is ‘protected’. You can read more information about protected convictions and cautions below. See The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 50 (1)(b) and 15 (1) for more information.
- Details of any health conditions you have that may affect your practice as a social worker, that you have not previously declared to us or the HCPC.
- Details of any occasions when your fitness to practise has been found to be impaired by any regulatory body, that you have not previously declared to us, or to the HCPC.
When can I apply?
Social workers will need to renew their registration on an annual basis. The renewals period starts on the 1 September and closes at 11.59pm on 30 November.
How long will my application take?
The renewal process should take about 20 to 30 minutes but will take longer if you choose to record CPD or to tell us about any changes to your circumstances, for example a change of address, or a declaration about your health.
Applications to renew must be submitted before 11.59pm on 30 November. You are advised to submit your application for renewal well before 30 November.
We have designed the online forms in collaboration with social workers, and we hope that you will find the experience straight forward.
Throughout the online application process, you can upload supporting documents such as health evidence or change of name evidence. If you’re unable to upload your documents, you can send them to us by post. Please do not send original documents unless we’ve specifically requested them.
When will I know if I have been renewed?
Once you have completed and submitted your application and made your payment, you will receive a confirmation of submission email.This confirmation does not mean that your registration has been renewed. We will send you an email from 1 December to confirm the outcome of your application to renew. This information will also be available on our online register.
If you provide us with further information about whether you are capable of safe and effective practice, we will contact you for further information to help us make a decision about your application.
What should I do if I don’t want to renew?
If you do not wish to renew, you can use your online account to apply for voluntary removal. If you do not apply for voluntary removal and do not renew your registration by 30 November, your reason for leaving the register will be recorded as ‘removed - failure to renew’.
What happens if I do not make an application to renew?
If you have an open fitness to practise case at the time of renewal, you will not be removed from the register but we will not renew your registration. See The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 13(2) for more information.
Please note that if you do not renew your registration in these circumstances, your registration may be removed for failure to renew once your fitness to practise case has concluded.
If you do not have an open fitness to practise case and are not subject to conditions of practice or a suspension order (either interim or final), and you do not apply to renew or fail to make payment by the 30 November, you will be removed from the register.
Your registration status will be recorded as ‘removed - failure to renew’. You will not be able to use the protected title ‘social worker’ and you will not be able to do any task which requires a social worker. If you do continue to use the title ‘social worker’, or do any task requiring a social worker, after you have been removed from the register, you will be committing a criminal offence.
We will write to you to inform you that your name has been removed. We will also write to any current employer whose details we hold on your registration record to notify them of your removal.
If you wish to re-join the register once you have been removed, you will need to make an application to restore. We recommend that you read our restoration guidance before applying to restore. Please note that you may continue to receive communications from us until your name has been removed from the register.
When completing the application for renewal, you will be asked to confirm or update the information we hold about you.This will include your:
- phone number
- email address
We will also ask for your employment details (if applicable) and whether you are registered with other regulators.
If you need to change your name or your nationality you will need to provide evidence of this, for example a marriage certificate, certificate of citizenship or passport. The evidence will need to be a high quality colour image that clearly shows the entire document.
If you have multiple nationalities, you only need to inform us of the nationality you wish to use for the purpose of your registration.
You may have provided information (for example about your nationality) to previous regulators. However, for us to ensure that the data we hold about you is correct, we may ask you to provide this again. Once you have provided this, you will not need to update this in future years unless you wish to make a change.
The name that appears on the register must be the name that you use when you are practising as a social worker. If this is different to the name stated on your official documents, you will need to provide a further document that shows the name you wish to use professionally, such as a colour copy of your passport or staff employment card.
If you joined the register between 1 September and 30 November
If you join the register during the renewals period (1 September and 30 November), either for the first time or as returning social worker, you will have recently provided us with your information. You will not need to complete another form or renewal application. However, you will need to pay your renewal fee. The easiest way to pay is by making a card payment through your online account. This payment will need to be paid by the 30 November.
A £90 renewal fee must be paid when you apply for renewal.
The renewal period is 1 September to 30 November.
If you have a Direct Debit mandate set up with Social Work England by 25 September, you can choose to pay your renewal fee in 2 instalments of £45 on 1 October and 1 April each year. You have until 25 September to set up a Direct Debit mandate. You can do this on your online account or as part of your application to renew (if you apply before 25 September).
If you do not have an active Direct Debit mandate by 25 September, you will need to pay the fee in full when you apply to renew. Read more about renewal fees.
For more information about fees see:
- The Social Work England (Fees) Rules 2019, schedule 19
- The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 56
Continuing professional development
Continuing professional development (CPD) is the reflection and learning activity that social workers undertake throughout their career to maintain and improve their practice. By undertaking and recording CPD, you demonstrate to us and the public that you continue to meet standard 4 of our professional standards.
Providing evidence that you meet the CPD requirements is a requirement of renewing your registration in accordance with our regulations and registration rules.
We encourage you to record CPD throughout the year. If you have not recorded CPD for the year when you apply to renew, we will ask you confirm that you will do so before 30 November as part of the form.
Read more about CPD, including our requirements during the renewal period.
For more information about CPD see:
- The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 13(4)
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 52
Safe and effective practice declarations
If there is a change in your circumstances that may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively, you must tell us as soon as possible.
Do not wait until you apply to renew to do this. Standard 6.6 of the professional standards states that as a social worker, you will:
‘Declare to the appropriate authority and Social Work England anything that might affect my ability to do my job competently or may affect my fitness to practise, or if I am subject to criminal proceedings or a regulatory finding is made against me, anywhere in the world.’
In addition to this requirement and as part of the professional standards, you need to supply evidence about your ability to practise safely and effectively when you apply to renew.
Failure to tell us about these matters may put your registration at risk. The things you must tell us about when you renew are described below.
Read about how to make a self-referral.
What happens when I make a fitness to practise declaration?
When you make a safe and effective practice declaration during the renewal period, we will make an initial risk assessment of the information received to determine if it is necessary to open an investigation.
The key questions we will seek to determine at the initial assessment stage are whether the matter declared is sufficiently serious to potentially amount to a fitness to practise matter and whether there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to start a full investigation.
If your safe and effective practise declaration meets our triage test, it will proceed into a fitness to practise case. You will remain on the register until the end of the fitness to practise process. Read more about our approach to fitness to practise.
For more information about safe and effective practice declarations see:
- The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 16(1)
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, 50(1)b
The offences we recognise as listed offences are specified in schedule 3 of our legislation and include serious violent or sexual offences. They also include other offences that are relevant to the role of a social worker. See The Social Workers Regulations 2018, Schedule 3 for more information.
You will not be eligible for registration if you’ve been convicted of an offence listed in this part of our legislation on or after 2 December 2019 and you will be automatically removed from the register.
If you’re aware that you have committed an offence overseas that may be equivalent to an offence in the UK, you should seek independent expert or legal advice to check whether you need to tell us about it.
Convictions, cautions and investigations
You must declare any convictions or cautions that have been issued to you in the UK or any other country.
See the Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15(1) and 15(2) for more information.
Our regulatory powers mean that all registered social workers in England must disclose these matters, as social workers are required to provide the same information as they did at initial registration. You are not eligible to be registered if you are subject to a:
- 1) A conviction for a listed offence (other than a conviction that has been quashed)
You must declare:
- any convictions and cautions issued in the UK or any other country unless they’re ‘protected’ (see below)
- all offences for which you’ve been convicted by court martial in a military court or tribunal
You should provide as much information as possible about any convictions or cautions to allow us to make a decision as to whether they affect your safe and effective practice. If we need more information, we’ll contact you.
You must provide the following information:
- Details of the offence.
- The date you received the conviction or caution.
- The name and contact details of the court or investigating body, if known.
Any other information you believe will help to explain the circumstances that led to the conviction, caution.
You must also declare any fixed penalty notices, penalty notices for disorder, or harassment notices issued to you in the UK or any other country, except for:
- any road traffic offences where you have paid a fixed penalty notice (for example, speeding offences) or a penalty charge notice (for example, a parking ticket)
- any fixed penalty notices, penalty notices for disorder, or harassment notices issued in Scotland. These are protected from disclosure by amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Please provide the following information in relation to each of the above notices you have received:
- Details of the offence
- The date you received the notice
- The name and contact details of the authority who issued you with the notice, if known
- Any other information that’ll help to explain the circumstances that led to the notice being issued
Protected cautions and convictions
Some convictions and cautions are protected by law, meaning you do not need to declare them to us. If you do tell us about a protected offence, we will not take it into account when we assess your application for registration.
A caution is protected, and you do not need to tell us about it if both of the following apply:
- More than 6 years have passed since you received the caution (or more than 2 years have passed if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the caution)
- It is not for a ‘listed offence’ as set out by Parliament
Read more about offences that will never be filtered from a criminal record check.
A conviction is protected, and you do not need to tell us about it if all of the following apply:
- More than 11 years have passed since the date of conviction (or more than 5 years and 6 months have passed if you were under the age of 18 when convicted)
- It’s not for a ‘listed offence’ as set out by Parliament (see above)
- You did not receive a custodial sentence (regardless of whether served)
- You have not been convicted of any other offence at any time
What happens if I disclose a conviction, caution or penalty notice?
If you disclose a conviction, caution or penalty notice that is not for an offence listed under schedule 3 of the regulations, we’ll assess whether this is likely to impact your ability to practise safely and effectively. We’ll take into account the nature of the offence, when it occurred, and whether you have committed any other offences. We’ll also take into account any details you provide about the circumstances surrounding the offence.
We may contact the police or others to verify any details you provide about your convictions, cautions or penalty notices to help us decide whether your fitness to practise is affected.
Barred from working with vulnerable groups
You must also tell us about any changes to your circumstances that bar you from working with vulnerable groups. This includes being:
- listed on the adults’ or children’s list under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
- listed on the adults’ and or children’s list under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007
- subject to a barring order under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006
If any of these apply to you, you’ll need to provide us with the following details:
- The date you were barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.
- Name and contact details of the organisation that barred you from working with children or vulnerable adults.
- Any other information that you believe will help us to understand the circumstances that led to the decision.
See the Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15 (4) for more information.
When you apply to renew your registration, you’ll need to tell us about any physical or mental health conditions that may impact your practice as a social worker, which you have not already declared.
However, you are required to tell us about any such condition as soon as it arises, not just at the point of renewal.
We use the term ‘health condition’ to mean an illness, injury, disability, or impairment. If your health conditions change at any point during your registration and which might affect your safe and effective practise you should notify us immediately.
Why we ask about health conditions
We ask about health conditions because we need to know that the people on our register are able to fulfil their role as a social worker safely and effectively. Our focus is whether you have a health condition that could adversely or negatively affect your practise, not whether you have a health condition that you’re able to manage effectively.
Many people with health conditions are able to practise safely and effectively. You may receive support or treatment from a health care professional. Additionally, your employer has a responsibility to discuss what reasonable adjustments they can provide to support you at work.
Which conditions do I need to disclose?
You must tell us about a health condition if both of the following apply:
- Your health condition affects, or could affect, your ability to perform your role as a social worker safely and effectively. This includes any episodic or occasional conditions that may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively if you experience a recurrence.
- You do not have arrangements in place that manage the health condition and allow you to perform your role as a social worker safely and effectively.
If the above criteria apply to your health condition, we’ll need to know more about the effect your health condition may have on your ability to perform your role and what steps you’re taking towards managing the condition. You should include the following information in your application:
- The nature and seriousness of your health condition, including whether it is ongoing or episodic (occasional).
- How your condition may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively.
- What steps you’re taking to manage your health condition (for example medication or reduced hours) and how effective these are.
- Whether you’ve made your employer aware of your condition.
- Any relevant dates of occurrences and treatment.
What happens if I disclose a health condition?
If you declare a health condition to us, we’ll need to be sure that you have insight and understanding about your condition and its effects on your practice. We need to know that you’ve considered how certain aspects of your practice may be affected and that you’ve taken appropriate steps to make sure you do not put yourself or others at risk.
We’ll consider each disclosure on a case by case basis. In some cases, we may need to speak with your doctor or other treating clinician. We’ll ask for your consent to do this first. All information regarding your health will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be shared with those who need it.
For more information about health conditions see:
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15 (5)
- The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulations 11 (2)(b) and 16 (1)
Findings by other bodies
If you’re registered with another regulatory body who finds your fitness to practise to be impaired, and you have not already declared this to us, you must declare this when you renew.
‘Regulatory body’ means any organisation (other than Social Work England) which authorises someone to practise a regulated health or social care profession, either in the UK or elsewhere.
If you tell us that a regulatory body has found your fitness to practise to be impaired, you must provide the following information:
- The name and contact details of the regulatory body that found your fitness to practise to be impaired.
- The date they made their decision.
- The outcome of your fitness to practise case (for example, whether you were suspended or removed from the register).
- Any further details about the case that’ll help to us understand the circumstances that led to the decision
For more information about findings by other bodies see:
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rules 15 (3) and 50
At the end of the renewal application, you’ll be asked to complete a declaration to confirm the following:
- To confirm that you have read, understood and will comply with Social Work England’s professional standards.
- To confirm that you have read and understood the privacy notice and understand that Social Work England will process your data as required by the Social Worker Regulations 2018 and associated rules.
- To confirm that you agree to pay the fees for your registration.
- To confirm that you understand that Social Work England may contact other relevant person(s) or organisations to obtain further information about your application or to verify the information that you have provided and agree that any person who is so contacted may provide Social Work England with any information about you which that person holds.
- To confirm that the information you have provided in the application is correct and understand that fraudulently procuring an entry in the Social Work England register is an offence under the regulations for which you may be prosecuted.
Honesty and integrity
It is important to be honest when applying to renew. Before you submit your application, you will be asked to confirm that the information you have provided is accurate. If you give false or misleading information, we may deny your application for renewal or remove you from the register.
You must tell us as soon as possible if any of your details change. It is your responsibility to ensure that all the information we hold about you is up to date and accurate throughout your registration. This includes your personal and employment details, as well as any information relevant to your fitness to practise (as required by standard 6.6 of our professional standards).
Failure to inform us of any changes could lead to you being suspended or removed from the register.
For more information about honesty and integrity see:
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 21(2)(b)
- The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 16(1)
Making a decision about your application
Once we have received your application, we will review the information you have provided. We will contact you if we require any additional documents or information.
You must ensure that we receive these within 14 calendar days if you would like to continue with your application.
When making a decision about your application, there are 3 outcomes:
- Application to renew accepted
- Application to renew refused
- Application to renew accepted with conditions
Read more about registration with conditions.
We will contact you after 30 November with our decision.
Appealing a decision
If we refuse your application to renew your registration and remove you from the register, you may have the right to appeal the decision.
However, you are not entitled to appeal if you did not submit an application or your application was incomplete, or because you did not pay the relevant fee.
More information can be found in our registration appeals guidance.
For more information see:
- The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rules 24 (2) and 26 (2)
- The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 19(1)(f) and regulation 19 (2)
For any further information or support with the process of renewal, please call us on 0808 196 2274 or email us on [email protected].
2. An offence under any of the following provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003(1)—
(a)section 1 (rape),
(b)section 2 (assault by penetration),
(c)sections 5 to 8 (rape and other offences against children under 13),
(d)sections 9 to 12 (child sex offences),
(e)sections 30 to 33 (offences against persons with a mental disorder impeding choice), or
(f)sections 47 to 50 (abuse of children through prostitution and pornography).
3. An offence under any of sections 9 to 12 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005(2) (sexual services of children and child pornography).
4. An offence under any of the following provisions of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008(3)—
(a)article 5 (rape),
(b)article 6 (assault by penetration),
(c)articles 12 to 15 (rape and other offences against children under 13),
(d)articles 16 to 19 (offences against children under 16),
(e)articles 37 to 40 (abuse of children under 18 through prostitution and pornography), or
(f)articles 43 to 46 (offences against persons with a mental disorder impeding choice).
5. An offence under any of the following provisions of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009(4)—
(a)section 1 (rape),
(b)section 2 (assault by penetration),
(c)sections 3 to 6 (sexual assault and sexual coercion) committed against a person who is, by virtue of section 17 of that Act (capacity to consent: mentally disordered persons), treated as incapable of consenting,
(d)sections 18 to 26 (rape and other offences against children under 13), or
(e)sections 28 to 33 (offences against older children).
6. An offence under either of the following provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015(5)—
(a)section 1 (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour), or
(b)section 2 (human trafficking).
7. An offence under either of the following provisions of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015(6)—
(a)section 1 (offence of human trafficking), or
(b)section 4 (slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour).
8. Extortion (in Scotland).
9. An offence under section 21 of the Theft Act 1968(7) (blackmail).
10. An offence under section 20 of the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969(8) (blackmail).
11. An offence under section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (sexual assault).
12. An offence under article 7 of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 (sexual assault).
13. An offence under section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (sexual assault).