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Guidance for applicants who qualified in the UK

Information about applying to join or rejoin the register and managing your registration.

Guidance for applicants who qualified in the UK

Last updated: 14 September 2021


About this guidance

This guidance is for people who have completed their social work qualification in the UK and would like to apply to join the Social Work England register.

Anyone who wants to work and practise as a social worker in England must be registered with us.

Our register

You can search the Social Work England register on our website. Anybody can search the register to check that a social worker is registered and to 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 act as an approved mental health professional (AMHP) or best interests assessor (BIA), and
  • whether they’re subject to any fitness to practise sanctions or proceedings

‘Social worker’ is a protected title, meaning that only people on the register can practise as a social worker in England [note 1].

Anyone who uses the title of social worker but is not registered is committing an offence and can be prosecuted.

[note 1] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 28

Professional standards

In order to apply for registration you will need to confirm that you have read, understood, and will comply with our professional standards [note 2].

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 may be taken into account in fitness to practise proceedings [note 3].

View the professional standards.

[note 2] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 22 (7)
[note 3] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 21(2)(c)

How to apply for registration

If you are applying to register with us for the first time you will need to create an online account. Please contact us if you require assistance with this.

You can use your Social Work England account to:

  • apply to be a registered social worker,
  • pay your registration fee, and
  • read and reply to messages we send you through the message centre.

Once you are registered, you can use your Social Work England online account to:

  • record your continuing professional development (CPD),
  • renew your registration annually, and
  • update some of your personal details when you need to.

You can also make an application to join the register using a paper application form. To request a form, please contact us via the message centre within your online account, call us on 0808 196 2274, or email us at [email protected].

To complete the application process, you will need:

  • a personal email address that we can use to contact you
  • to verify your identity via GOV.UK Verify, or send us certified colour copies of ID and proof of address documents so we can confirm your identity,
  • details of the qualification that entitles you to join the register,
  • details of any criminal convictions or cautions except those that are ‘protected’ – see below for details on protected convictions and cautions,
  • details of any health conditions you have that may affect your practice as a social worker
  • details of any occasions when your fitness to practise has been found to be impaired by any regulatory body.

When can I apply?

You should not apply to join the register until:

  • the final exam board for your course has been held,
  • your course provider has confirmed in writing to you that you have successfully passed your course, and
  • your course provider has confirmed this with the relevant regulator in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Your documents

Throughout the online application process, you can upload supporting documents such as your qualification certificate if you qualified in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. These must be certified colour copies.

If you’re unable to upload your documents, you can send your supporting documents to us by post. Please do not send original documents unless we’ve specifically requested them.

To certify your documents, you will need to ask a person of standing in the community to confirm that any copies are true copies of the original documents. The person you ask should not be related to you, living at the same address, or in a relationship with you.

A ‘person of standing in the community’ includes a:

  • lawyer or notary
  • regulated health or social care professional
  • bank manager or other bank official
  • member of the judiciary or other judicial official
  • minister of the church, rabbi, imam or other recognised religious official
  • member of a parliament, other legislative body or local government authority
  • consular officer
  • teacher or lecturer
  • member of a regulated profession

To certify your documents, the person must compare each original document with the copy and write on the front of the copy (without obstructing the information):

  • ‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original document seen by me’
  • Their signature and full name
  • The date of certification
  • Their occupation, professional address and phone number

Documents not written in English

Any documents that are not written in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.

This means that the translator should confirm, by writing on the translation, that: 

  • the translation is a ‘true and accurate translation of the original document’; 
  • the date of the translation; and 
  • the full name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company.  
  • Our registration managers have had training in document fraud identification. They will review the copies for authenticity, please ensure that you provide high quality colour images, that clearly show all four edges of the document. If your copies are not clear enough, or if we’re unable to verify their authenticity, we may request to see your original documents which you should send by secure post or courier.

Our registration managers have had training in document fraud identification. They will review the copies for authenticity, please ensure that you provide high quality colour images that clearly show all 4 edges of the document.

If your copies are not clear enough, or if we are unable to verify their authenticity, we may request to see your original documents, which you should send by secure post or courier.

Verifying your identity

If you have a UK address, you may be able to verify your identity using GOV.UK Verify. This is a secure way to prove who you are online. GOV.UK Verify is guaranteed by the government to hold your data securely. It usually takes between 20 and 45 minutes to verify your identity for the first time.

If you do not live in the UK, or are unable to use GOV.UK Verify, you will need to provide documents that prove your identity and address. You will need to send us:

  • one form of photographic ID, such as your passport or driving licence (these documents must be in date, we cannot accept documents that have expired), and
  • one form of proof of address, such as a bank statement or utility bill, that is addressed to you and dated within the last 3 months.

These documents will need to be certified copies and can be uploaded during the online application process. The copies should be a clear, high resolution copy or photograph which shows all 4 corners of the document.

Please see the ‘your documents’ section above for more information about providing these documents.

Can I register in a different name to the one on my official documents?

The name that appears on the public 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 certified colour copy of your marriage certificate or birth certificate.

How long will my application take?

If we do not need to request any additional information to support your application, we will normally process your application in 10 working days.

We will be in touch if we need any further information from you to process your application.

We will usually contact you through your Social Work England online account.

Important: You may wish to add [email protected] to your safe senders list and check that the emails do not go into your junk mail folder.

Fees

Registration fees

If your application to join the Social Work England register is successful, we will inform you via your online account that a registration fee is required [note 4].

When you first join our register, your registration fee will be calculated based on the length of time remaining before the end of the current registration period, as shown below.

Each registration period runs from 1 December to 30 November [note 5]. If your application is approved between:

  • 1 December and 28 February, you will pay £90.00
  • 1 March and 31 May, you will pay £67.50
  • 1 June and 31 August, you will pay £45.00
  • 1 September and 30 November, you will pay £22.50

You must pay this fee in full within 10 working days of our first request for payment. If you do not pay your fees within 10 working days, we’ll close your application [note 6].

If you still wish to practise as a social worker, you will need to make a new application to join the register.

You’ll need to pay a £90 registration fee annually when you apply for renewal [note 7]. The renewal period is 1 September to 30 November [note 8].

Read more about registration fees.

[note 4] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, regulation 17(1)(a); The Social Work England (Fees) Rules 2019, rule 4(1)
[note 5] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 55
[note 6] The Social Work England (Fees) Rules 2019, rule 9(3)
[note 7] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 17
[note 8] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 56

How to pay

The easiest way to make the above payments is via your Social Work England online account, which uses GOV.UK Pay. If you are unable to use GOV.UK Pay, please contact us

Qualification requirements

To register as a social worker, you must have completed a recognised social work qualification [note 9]. 

Evidence of qualifications gained in England

If your qualification was gained in England, we will usually be able to check your qualification against course provider records.

If you are a newly qualified graduate, you should wait for confirmation from your course provider that they have sent us a copy of the pass list.

A pass list is confirmation that the course provider will award you the qualification and means that you do not need to get certified copies of your university certificates.

If you apply to join the register before the university sends us the pass list, we will close your application and ask you to make a new application once we have received the pass list.

[note 9] The Social Work England Registration Rules (2019), rule 14

Evidence of qualifications gained in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

For qualifications gained outside of England you will need to provide:

  • your qualification certificate,
  • the name and address of your course provider, and
  • the name and address of the awarding body.

Your certificate must show the date your qualification was awarded. If it does not, you will need a letter from your institution confirming this date.

We will verify your qualification with the relevant regulator and/or course provider. We accept all social work qualification that have been approved by the other UK social work regulators.

Qualifications awarded more than 5 years ago

If you have been practising as a social worker

If you have been practising as a social worker outside England within the last 12 months, we may be able to take this into consideration. You’ll need to tell us:

  • the regulatory body you were, or are, registered with,
  • the contact details for the regulatory body,
  • your registration number with that body, and
  • the dates you were registered with that body.

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 the following details:

  • 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.

We will then make a decision about whether this work is enough to exempt you from a period of updating your skills and knowledge.

Evidence of updating your skills and knowledge

Social work is a constantly evolving profession. Often new legislation is introduced, local and national policy is revised and updated, and learning from case reviews and research takes place that may impact on practice.

Changing cultural and social factors also shape the work undertaken by social workers and the issues they must be aware of and respond to.

As the regulator, we must ensure that those returning to the profession are fit to practise and can uphold the professional standards.

Applicants often find that undertaking this period of updating their skills and knowledge helps them to prepare and develop confidence for commencing their social work employment in England.

If you have not been practising as a social worker since you qualified

If you gained your recognised social work qualification more than 5 years ago, and you have not been practising as a registered social worker someone other than England within the last 12 months, you will need to give us evidence of how you have kept your skills, knowledge and experience up to date [note 10].

You can do this by providing evidence that you have completed relevant education and/or training. This must cover at least 60 days within the 12 months before you make your application [note 11].

We consider a day to be a minimum of 7 hours. The 60 days do not need to be continuous.

You can use one or more of the following 3 options to update your skills, knowledge and experience:

  • Supervised practice.
  • Formal study.
  • Private study.

However, 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.

[note 10] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 14 (2)
[note 11] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 14(2)(a) and 14(4)

Supervised practice

Supervised practice involves working under the supervision of a social worker in a social work role, either in the UK or another country.

Your supervisor must be registered with the relevant regulatory body for the duration of your supervised practice, and they must have been registered as a social worker for at least 3 years continuously. They must also not be subject to any fitness to practise sanctions or interim orders.

We do not specify the activities that applicants must undertake. It could include, but is not limited to:

  • providing information, support and guidance to service users and their families,
  • undertaking or shadowing assessments,
  • care planning,
  • applying legislation,
  • signposting and liaising with other agencies,
  • attending team and multi-disciplinary meetings,
  • case recording,
  • training sessions,
  • shadowing social workers and other professionals, or
  • any other activities relevant to the setting.

Applicants are not expected to carry their own caseload.

For each period of supervised practice you undertake during the 12 month period, you’ll need to provide:

  • details of the setting where you have undertaken your period of supervised practise,
  • the contact details of your supervisor,
  • the name of the regulatory body they’re registered with,
  • their registration number,
  • the dates and number of hours of your supervised practice, and
  • details of what your supervised practice involved.

We’ll contact your supervisor to confirm this information.

Supervised practice and statutory social work settings

We recognise that social work skills and knowledge are used in many organisations that provide services and support to improve the lives of vulnerable people.

Supervised practice can be undertaken in local authorities and other settings in the health and social care sector, such as a family support service, mental health project, women’s refuge or charity that provides the opportunity to practise using social work skills and knowledge. It does not have to be undertaken in a statutory social work setting.

It could be a placement you have arranged, or paid employment in a role related to social work, for example support worker, advocate, social work assistant or similar, as long as the period of practice has been undertaken with the supervision of a registered social worker.

The supervising social worker does not necessarily have to be based where you undertake your practice, but you must negotiate with them how they will supervise and assess the work you undertake.

We would expect that your workplace supervisor or manager is aware that you are working with a social worker to update your skills and knowledge, and that they contribute to the process. We may contact your workplace supervisor or manager to confirm the work you have undertaken.

How do I arrange supervised practice?

We do not arrange supervised practice for applicants. You may choose to contact local authorities, former employers and colleagues, or other organisations in the voluntary and charity sector to arrange a period of supervised practise.

Some Return to Social Work programmes, such as the one run by the Local Government Association, may offer supervised practice placements as part of the programme, however we cannot recommend programmes or assist you in finding one.

Guidance for supervisors

We do not set detailed requirements for the level of supervision needed, or the tasks that applicants need to carry out. We believe that this is best decided between the applicant and their supervisor, based on the learning needs of the applicant, the type of service they’re working in and the expertise of the supervisor.

We rely on the supervisor’s assessment, as an experienced social worker, of the applicant’s knowledge and skills, and their capability to undertake a social work role in line with the professional standards. We do not ask supervisors to provide a report, though it is good practice to maintain records of supervision sessions to share with the applicant.

We will ask the applicant to fill in an updating skills and knowledge form. Once we receive this, we will contact the supervisor to confirm in writing that the supervised practice has been completed to a satisfactory level.

If social work is not regulated in the country you wish to undertake your supervised practice, you can be supervised a social worker in that country, but you must provide full details of what your supervised practice involved. Our registration advisers, who are qualified social workers, will then make a decision about whether what you have done is enough to update your skills and knowledge.

Formal study

A postgraduate course, whether a degree, diploma or shorter course, will be accepted as formal study, as long as a qualification in social work was necessary to enrol on the course.

We must also be confident that the course content and quality assurance processes and governance are of a sufficient standard. Return to Social Work programmes, such as the one run by the Local Government Association, can count towards formal study.

You’ll need to send us a certified copy of your qualification certificate or upload a scan of the original so that we can verify your qualification. We may also contact your course provider for confirmation.

You may wish to contact us before you enrol and pay for a course to see if we will accept this as formal study. CPD completed in the workplace and online learning that is not provided by a university does not count as formal study, although it can count as private study.

Private study

Private study is a method of updating your skills and knowledge through self-structured learning. Here are some examples of the types of activities that you may include in your period of private study:

  • Reading journal articles or books on social work.
  • Reading information on relevant websites.
  • Observing or shadowing a social worker, which is different from supervised practice as there is no formal supervision arrangement.
  • Attending training courses.
  • Reflecting on and recording your learning.

Private study can make up no more than half of your 60 day updating period.

You will need to keep a record of the activities you undertake throughout any period of private study. When you apply to join the register, you will need to demonstrate how each aspect of your private study has contributed to your learning and enabled you to meet our professional standards.

In relation to each day, or activity, that makes up your private study, is important that you keep a record of:

  • the date,
  • the number of hours spent,
  • what you did, and
  • how this helped you meet our professional standards.

Your responsibility

It is your responsibility to ensure that what you learn during a period of updating your skills, knowledge and experience is enough to ensure that you meet our professional standards.

Knowledge of English

Before we can add you to our register, we need to be confident that your English is of a suitable standard. This means you need to be able to speak and write in English, understand people when they speak to you in English, and understand documents written in English.

If you are not a UK national and you received your UK qualification more than 5 years ago, you may need to provide evidence to demonstrate that your English language skills are of a suitable standard.

English language controls as a new registration requirement

The proposal to introduce English language requirements for social workers follows the Law Commission’s recommendation that regulatory bodies should carry out proportionate language controls on those applying to join professional registers.

In its response to the Law Commission the government agreed, stating this was a priority given the need to ensure public protection. This recognises that in order to practise safely and effectively it is vital that every social worker is able to understand and communicate effectively with the people they work with, those involved in their care and other professionals.

This proposal follows the introduction of language controls for other regulated professionals including doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists, as well as a code of practice on English language requirements for public sector workers [note 12].

[note 12] The Immigration Act 2016, Part 7

Evidence to demonstrate your knowledge of English

If you are not a UK national and do not have a UK social work qualification received in the last 5 years, there are 3 ways you can demonstrate your knowledge of English [note 13].

1. IELTS certificates

For us to accept an international English language testing system (IELTS) qualification, your certificate must show:

  • that you took the academic version of the test (this is the paper version not the online indicator test),
  • that you got an overall score of at least 7.0,
  • the original stamp and test report form number, and
  • that you received your IELTS qualification in the last 5 years.
2. Social work qualifications gained outside the UK and taught in English

If you have gained a further recognised social work qualification outside the UK, it may be possible to use this as evidence of your knowledge of English. To do this, your qualification must have been obtained both:

  • within the last 5 years, and
  • in a country where English is the first and native language (see below).

We’ll contact your course provider directly to confirm that the qualification was entirely taught and examined in English.

3. Practising social work in English

If you’ve been registered and practising as a social worker in a country where English is the first and native language, this can be used as evidence of your knowledge of English as long as both of the following apply:

  • You were registered and practising for at least one year in the last 5 years, and
  • An English language assessment was required for registration.

You’ll need to provide details of the regulatory body you were registered with as well as contact details for your employer. We’ll contact your employer directly to confirm you’ve been practising using English.

[note 13] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 16

First and native language

You can find a list of the countries we currently recognise as having English as their first and native language at the end of this guidance.

We use this list to determine whether someone meets our English language requirements in 2 ways:

  1. To decide whether their practice in the country demonstrates their knowledge of English.
  2. To decide whether a qualification from that country demonstrates their knowledge of English.

Please note that a first and native language is different to an official language.

Safe and effective practice

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. You will need to make safe and effective practice declarations when you apply to join the register [note 14].

[note 14] Regulation 11(2)b of the Social Workers Regulations 2018

What you need to declare

Things that impact your ability to practise include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • 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.

We will explain these situations in more detail below.

Criminal proceedings

Convictions, cautions, investigations and penalty notices

You must declare any convictions or cautions that have been issued in the UK or any other country [note 15]. You must also tell us if you’re being investigated for a criminal offence in the UK or any other country. We have powers to require all applicants to disclose these matters.

You must declare:

  • All convictions and cautions, including spent convictions and cautions, issued in the UK or any other country unless they are ‘protected’ (see below for details on protected convictions and cautions).
  • All road traffic convictions or cautions unless they are ‘protected’ (see below for details on protected convictions and cautions).
  • All offences for which you have been convicted in a military court or tribunal, and
  • Any charges of or investigations for a criminal offence.

You should provide as much information as possible about any convictions or cautions you have to enable us to make a decision about your application. If we need to ask for additional information your application will take longer to process.

You must provide the following information in relation to each of the convictions or cautions you have:

  • Details of the offence.
  • The date you received the conviction or caution or when the investigation started, if necessary.
  • The name and contact details of the court or authority, if known.
  • Any other information you believe will help to explain the circumstances that led to the conviction or caution. Our professional standards also require you to tell us if you’re under investigation. We will need further information to assess your ability to practice safely and effectively in order to ensure the protection of the public.

[note 15] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 15(1) and 15(2)

Penalty notices

You must also declare any:

  • fixed penalty notices,
  • penalty notices for disorder,
  • harassment notices issued to you in the UK or any other country.

You do not need to declare:

  • road traffic offences where you have paid a fixed penalty notice (for example, speeding offences or civil matters such as parking tickets),
  • 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 about each notice 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 will help to explain the circumstances that led to the notice being issued.

Protected convictions and cautions

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.

Protected cautions

A caution is protected, and you do not need to tell us about it if you received the caution when you were under 18 or both of the following apply:

  • More than 6 years have passed since you received the caution, and
  • It is not for an offence listed by the DBS as one that will never be protected.

Protected convictions

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 an offence listed by the DBS as one that will never be protected, and
  • You did not receive a custodial sentence, and
  • You have not been convicted of any other offence at any time.

The law on whether a conviction or caution is protected is complex. If you’re not sure, we recommend that you seek independent expert or legal advice. This is to check whether you need to tell us about it.

Listed offences

The offences we recognise as listed offences are specified in our legislation [note 16] and include serious violent or sexual offences. They also include other offences that are relevant to the role of a social worker [note 17].

You will not be eligible for registration if you’ve been convicted of a listed offence. We will automatically remove you from the register.

You must also tell us if you’ve committed an offence abroad that would be considered a listed offence in England [note 18].

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.

[note 16 and 17] Schedule 3 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018
[note 18] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rule 13(2)

What happens if I disclose a conviction, caution or penalty notice?

If you disclose a conviction, caution, penalty notice or investigation for an offence, we’ll assess whether this is likely to impact:

  • your ability to practise safely and effectively, or
  • the reputation of the profession.

If you disclose a conviction, caution or penalty notice 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. As part of the assessment of your application to join the register, we will ask you to provide a recent copy of your DBS certificate.

We may contact the police to verify any details you provide about your convictions, cautions, penalty notices or investigations to help us decide whether your fitness to practise will be affected. We may also ask for sentencing documents and further information in order for us to complete our assessment.

Barred from working with vulnerable groups

During the application process you will also be asked to disclose whether you are, or have ever been:

  • 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), and
  • barred from working with vulnerable people in any other country.

If any of these apply to you, you will need to provide us with full details, including [note 19]:

  • 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, and
  • any other information that you believe will help us to understand the circumstances that led to the decision.

[note 19] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15 (4)

Health conditions

We use the term ‘health condition’ to mean an illness, injury, disability, or impairment.

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 practice. We do not need to know about health conditions that you’re able to manage effectively.

Health conditions you do not need to disclose

Many people with health conditions are able to practise safely and effectively. For example, you may be receiving support or treatment from a health care professional.

The fact that you have a health condition does not impair your fitness to practise. You may still be able to practise with or without adjustments to support you.

There are 2 important questions to ask yourself before declaring a health condition:

  1. Am I managing my health condition?
  2. Do I have sufficient insight to limit my practice where necessary to protect the public while registered as a social worker?
Support at work

Additionally, your employer has a responsibility to discuss what reasonable adjustments they can provide to support you at work.
If your employer is not providing adequate support to help you manage your health condition and enable you to work safely and effectively, you should raise it with them.

Health conditions you 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 conditions that may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively if you experience a recurrence), and
  • You do not have arrangements in place that manage the health condition and enable you to perform your role as a social worker safely and effectively.

If both of the above apply to your health condition, you should declare this in your application.

You will need to tell us more about the effect your health condition may have on your ability to perform your role. You will also need to tell us what steps you are taking towards managing the condition.

An occupational health assessment does not necessarily confirm that you are capable of safe and effective practice. The main aim of an occupational health assessment is to advise employers on the employee's health and make recommendations on what adjustments could be considered.

You should include the following information in your application or self-referral:

  • The nature and seriousness of your health condition, including whether it is ongoing or episodic.
  • 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.

Declarations and disability

Having a disability does not necessarily mean your fitness to practise is impaired.

However, if you do disclose a disability, we are required to ask you for more information to make sure it does not affect your ability to practise safely and effectively.

If you are managing your disability and it does not affect your practice, then you do not need to declare it to us.

What happens if I disclose a health condition?

If you declare a health condition to us, we’ll treat this matter sensitively as we know it may cause you additional concerns.

We’ll need to be sure that you understand your condition and how it effects your safe and effective practice. We need to know that you’ve considered how certain aspects of your practice may be affected. We also need to know that you have taken appropriate steps to make sure you do not put yourself or others at risk.

We’ll consider the information you have provided on a case by case basis. In some cases, we may need to speak to your doctor or other treating clinician. We will always let you know that we’re doing this.

All information regarding your health will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be shared with people who need it to deal with your declaration.

Any health declarations and associated evidence will be retained in accordance with our information governance processes.

Fitness to practise history

During the application process we will ask you whether you have ever been subject to fitness to practise proceedings before any regulatory body and, if so, what the outcome was. This includes the proceedings of regulators outside of the social work profession, such as the NMC or the HCPC, and overseas regulators [note 20].

If you were the subject of a fitness to practise investigation, you must provide the following information:

  • The name and contact details of the regulatory body that investigated your fitness to practise.
  • The date of the decision of the fitness to practise proceedings.
  • The outcome of your fitness to practise proceedings, for example, whether the investigation was closed, you were suspended, removed from the register, had conditions of practice imposed, were given a warning, advice or caution and even where no formal action was taken. Please note this includes if you were the subject of a voluntary removal process during the course of fitness to practise proceedings.
  • Any further details about the case that will help to us to understand the circumstances that led to the decision.

[note 20] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15 (3)

What happens if you disclose your fitness to practise history

If you declare anything in relation to your fitness to practise history, we will ask for a copy of any determinations. This will enable us to make an assessment as to whether the findings or agreed facts are likely to affect your ability to practise safely and effectively as a social worker in England.

When considering whether you are able to practise safely and effectively, we will consider our over-arching objective to protect the public under Section 37 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which includes:

  • Protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and well-being of the public,
  • Promoting and maintaining public confidence in social workers in England,
  • Promoting and maintaining professional standards for social workers in England.

Other checks we will make

You should tell us if you have been registered with another regulator. We need information about your registration history including confirmation of the dates of your registration and whether there is any fitness to practice history. You will need to tell us the following information:

  • The regulatory body you were, or are, registered with
  • The contact details for the regulatory body
  • Your registration number with that body
  • The dates you were registered with that body

We will contact the regulator directly to get the information, every regulator works differently, and they may prefer to provide the information to you.

You may wish to check with the regulator before you apply to join the Social Work England register to ensure that the information we need will be provided within our timescales.

Submitting your application

The quickest and most secure way to submit your application is through your Social Work England online account.

If you choose to complete a paper form, you can scan and send it to us as an attachment along with any certified copies of supporting documents. Please send the form and all attachments to: [email protected].

Alternatively, you can post your completed application form with certified copies of your supporting documents to: Social Work England, Registration and Advice Team, 1 North Bank, Blonk Street, Sheffield, S3 8JY.

Declaration

Before you submit your application, you’ll be asked to complete a declaration to confirm the following:

  • I confirm that I have read, understood and will comply with Social Work England’s professional standards.
  • I confirm that I have read and understood the privacy notice and understand that Social Work England will process my data as required by the Social Worker Regulations 2018 and associated rules.
  • I agree to pay the fees for my registration.
  • I understand that Social Work England may contact other relevant person(s) or organisations to obtain further information about my application or to verify the information that I have provided and agree that any person who is so contacted may provide Social Work England with any information about me which that person holds.
  • I confirm that the information I have provided in this application is correct and understand that fraudulently procuring an entry in the Social Work England register is an offence under the regulations for which I may be prosecuted.

Honesty

It is important to be honest when applying to join our register. Before you submit your application, you will be asked to confirm that the information you have provided is accurate [note 21]. If you give false or misleading information, we may deny your application for registration 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 [note 22]. You can check and update your details on your Social Work England online account.

[note 21] The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 21(2)(b)
[note 22] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 16(1)

Making a decision about your application

Once we have received your application, you will be allocated a case officer who 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 23].

The case officer will notify you through the message centre on your Social Work England online account (or by email if you have not set up an account) if we need any more documents or information. For example, in some circumstances, we may need to see evidence of your social work qualification, such as a certificate or transcript.

Once you have made an application, we will not be able to give you any information about the assessment of your application. You should correspond directly with your case officer.

As an applicant, you are ultimately responsible to ensure that we receive the information we need in order to complete an assessment. There may be several third parties that we will need to contact in order to make an assessment of your application, for example, previous employers or other regulators.

We recommend that you contact them in advance of making an application to explain our requirements and that they will need to reply to any requests from us within 14 calendar days. Failure to do so will result in the application being closed.

If we do not require any additional information to support your application, we will aim to process your application in 10 working days.

When making a decision about your application we have 3 options. We may:

  • accept your application to join the register,
  • refuse your application to join the register, or
  • accept your application with conditions.

Read more about registration with conditions.

If your application is accepted, we will inform you via the message centre (or by email if you do not have an online account) and request payment of your registration fee.

You will then need to pay your registration fee within 10 working days from the date of our request. Once we have received your registration fee, we will add you to the register within 10 working days of your payment [note 24].

If you do not pay the registration fee within 10 working days, your application will be closed, and you will need to start a new application.

We will not prioritise any applications due to employment start dates. It is your responsibility as an applicant to ensure that we receive all the information we need to complete our assessment of your application.

You must not carry out any work as a social worker until you have received confirmation that you have been added to the Social Work England register.

[note 23] The Social Work England Registration Rules 2019, rules 24(1), 24(2) and 26(2)
[note 24] The Social Work England (Registration) Rules 2019, rules 24(1)

Appealing a decision

If we refuse you entry to the register you are entitled to appeal this decision, except where this decision was based on the fact that you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe [note 25].

Read more about making an appeal.

[note 25] The Social Workers Regulations 2018, reg 19(1)(a) and 19(2)

More information

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

You can also visit our website at socialworkengland.org.uk for the most up to date information.

Countries where English is the first and native language

These are the countries and territories we currently recognise as having English as their first and native language. Please note that a first and native language is different to an official language.

  • Ascension
  • Australia
  • Bermuda
  • British Antarctic Territory (BAT)
  • British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)
  • Canada
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Guernsey
  • Guyana (formerly British Guiana)
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • New Zealand
  • Pitcairn
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus (CBA's)
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena
  • Tristan da Cunha
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • US Virgin Islands

Caribbean Islands

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Anguilla
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Grenadines
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

Citizenship list

List of countries where for the purposes of citizenship, an applicant would not need to prove their knowledge of English:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Ireland (for citizenship only)
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

Listed offences

1. Murder.

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).

Version history

Last update: 9 November 2021

  • Clearer information about safe and effective practice declarations
  • Clearer information about updating skills and knowledge and supervised practice
  • Clearer information about our requirements for document verification
  • Clearer information about penalty notice declarations
  • Clearer information about protected cautions

First published: 20 December 2019

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