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Registration renewal guidance

Guidance is for social workers who currently hold registration with Social Work England and who wish to renew their registration.

Guidance for social workers applying to renew their registration

Last updated: 26 August 2021


About this guidance

This guidance is for social workers who currently hold registration with Social Work England and who wish to renew their registration [note 1]. 

All 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 from 1 December. 

[note 1] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 13

Our register

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 [note 2]

‘Social worker’ is a protected title, meaning that only people on the register can practise as a social worker in England [note 3]. Anyone who uses the title of social worker and who is not registered is committing a criminal offence [note 4].

[note 2] The Social Workers Regulations 2018 reg 9(2)
[note 3] The Social Workers Regulations 2018 reg 28
[note 4] The Social Workers Regulations 2018 reg 31 (1)

Professional standards

In order to apply for annual registration renewal, you will need to confirm that you have read, understood, and will continue to comply with our professional standards [note 5]. 

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.

[note 5] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 50(1)(b) and rule 15(6)

How to apply for renewal

If you haven’t already set up your Social Work England account, you will need to create an online account now. You may want to read our guide to setting up your online account.

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 email at [email protected] or by phone on 0808 196 2274.

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 renewal 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 the following:

  • 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, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or The General Social Care Council (GSCC). You do not need to tell us about a conviction or caution that is ‘protected’. More information about protected convictions and cautions can be found in our safe and effective practice guidance [note 6].
  • Details of any health conditions you have that may affect your practice as a social worker, that you have not previously declared to us, the HCPC or the GSCC.
  • 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, to the HCPC or the GSCC.

[note 6] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 50(1)(b) and rule 15(1)

When can I apply?

Social workers will need to renew their registration on an annual basis. The renewals period starts on 1 September and closes at 11.59pm (GMT) 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 at the same time 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 made changes following feedback and learning. We hope that you will find the experience straight forward.

Your documents

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 my registration has 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 information about whether you are capable of safe and effective practice, we may need to 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 [note 7] but we will not renew your registration. 

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 [note 8].

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 and notifications from us until your name has been removed from the register.

[note 7] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 13(2)

[note 8] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 31

How we will correspond with you

Unless you have previously contacted us to ask us not to contact you by email and we have agreed to contact you by letter, we will correspond with you by the email address that is linked to your Social Work England online account.

We will email you to let you know that annual registration renewal is open. To successfully renew you will need to have submitted an application to renew, paid your fee and provided CPD. Throughout the renewals period we will send a series of reminders to let you know what steps are outstanding, if applicable. You will also be able to sign into your online account to see what steps you have completed and what you still need to do.

You can change your email address at any time using your online account.

It is your responsibility to check your emails (including any junk folders) to ensure that you access the communications that we send to you. You can add [email protected] and [email protected] to your safe senders list to prevent future emails diverting to junk folders.

Your information

When completing the application for renewal, you will be asked to confirm or update the information we hold about you. This will include your:

  • name
  • gender identity
  • nationality
  • address
  • 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.

We have separate guidance for people who wish to update their gender identity.

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.

Occasionally social workers practice using a pseudonym. If you are in this situation, it is important that you inform us. You will need to do the following:

  • Demonstrate that your employer is aware of both names – meaning that if a concern was raised regarding your official name, the employer would be able to link this to the pseudonym and vice versa.
  • Confirm what name you are known by in your role, including by colleagues, people with lived experience and the wider public, meaning that you could be found on the register and identified if any fitness to practise concerns were raised by someone other than your employer.

If you join the register between 1 September and 30 November

If you join the register during the annual registration renewal period (1 September and 30 November), either for the first time or as a 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 registration fee. The easiest way to pay is by making a card payment through your online account. This fee will need to be paid by the 30 November.

Fees

A £90 renewal fee must be paid when you apply for renewal [note 9]. The renewal period is 1 September to 30 November [note 10]. 

If you have a Direct Debit mandate set up with us before 24 September, you can choose to pay your registration fee in 2 instalments of £45 on 1 October and 1 April each year. Failure to pay either instalment will mean that your registration will lapse. If this happens, you will be removed from the register and unable to practise as a social worker. You will be shown as ‘failed to renew’ on the register.

You have until 24 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 this date. If you do not have an active Direct Debit mandate by this date, you will need to pay the fee in full when you apply to renew.

Read more about renewal fees.

[note 9] The Social Work England (Fees) Rules 2019, schedule 1
[note 10] 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 [note 11] and registration rules [note 12].

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 renewal form.

Visit the CPD section on our website for more information about CPD, including our requirements during the renewal period.

[note 11] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 13(4)
[note 12] The Social Work England Registration Rules 2019, rule 52 

Safe and effective practice declarations

Our legal framework requires us to be satisfied that you’re able to practise safely and effectively. This means that you need to have the skills, knowledge, character, and health to practise safely and effectively as a social worker.

You must declare anything that could affect your ability to practise safely and effectively to us.

What you need to declare

Things that impact your ability to practise include, (but are not limited to):

  • convictions, cautions, penalty notices or being investigated for a criminal offence
  • findings by other regulatory bodies, for example if another regulator (that you are also registered with) finds that your fitness to practise is impaired
  • disciplinary proceedings
  • being barred from working with children or vulnerable adults
  • health conditions that affect your ability to carry out your usual duties as a social worker
  • Employment proceedings

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 [note 13]. 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 [note 14].

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 more about safe and effective practice and what to declare

[note 13] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 16(1)
[note 14] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 50(1)b

What happens when I make a safe and effective practice 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.

Read more about safe and effective practice.

Declaration

At the end of the renewal application, you will 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 Workers 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

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 [note 15]. 

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 [note 16].

[note 15] The Social Work England Registration Rules 2019, rule 21(2)(b)
[note 16] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 16(1) and The Social Work England Registration Rules 2019, rule 21(2)(b)

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 [note 17]. 

When making a decision about your application, there are 3 possible outcomes:

  • Your application to renew accepted
  • Your application to renew refused
  • Your application to renew accepted with conditions - read more about registration with conditions.

We will contact you after 30 November with our decision.

[note 17] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rules 24(2) and 26(2)

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 [note 18]. 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 [note 19].

More information can be found in our registration appeals guidance.

[note 18] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 19 (1)(f)
[note 19] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 19 (2)

Further information

For any further information or support with the process of renewal, please email us at [email protected] or call us on 0808 196 2274.

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