Read our guidance on working in Europe and beyond before planning to work abroad as a physiotherapist.
Plan your trip
Firstly, make sure to register before you start work if registration operates in your host country. Remember too that other countries will be governed by different rules of conduct, so you will need to find out, learn and abide by them once there.
Before leaving, check your CSP membership category includes valid professional liability insurance, or arrange local cover if needed. And make time to research your chosen country thoroughly before setting off, for example:
- is your host country's physiotherapy body part of WCPT?
- do you need to develop your cultural competence?
- will you have restricted access to healthcare information to support your practice when abroad?
- would you like to donate books and equipment?
Working in Europe as a physio from 2021
The transition period for the UK departure from the EU ends on 31 December 2020. After this date the automatic right to live and work in the EU ceases. It will then be down to whether your professional qualifications are recognised in the EU. At the time of this update, negotiations were still in progress. Exact details of who will be able to work in Europe and which qualifications will be recognized are still being finalized. The CSP continues to work as part of the Cavendish Coalition to secure the rights of NHS and social care workers post-Brexit.
British citizens looking to move and work in an EU country will need to apply in accordance with that country’s existing immigration rules.
The rights of British citizens in Ireland (and vice-versa) are covered under the Ireland Act 1949, which will continue to apply after 2020. Under this arrangement, British citizens residing in Ireland will not need to apply for settled status. Their rights will remain the same.
European Economic Area (EEA)
The EEA includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is also included for the purposes of registration. Registration to work within the EEA is governed by:
- Directive 2005/36/EEC (mutual recognition of professional qualifications)
- and Directive2005/36/EEC amendments (as of January 2016)
Rules also apply for working abroad in the EEA on a temporary or occasional basis (eg during the ski season) – see the CSP information paper for more details: Working as a physiotherapist in the EEA: what a CSP member needs to know.
European Professional Card
For the time being, physios wishing to register in another European country have the option of applying for a European Professional Card (EPC) which is part of the reviewed Professional Qualifications Directive. For more information on the EPC please see:
The Health in Europe Information Data Interface is a comprehensive search tool for European healthcare information.
Work outside Europe as a physio
If you are interested in working outside Europe, we recommend that you contact the professional body organisation in that country. In addition check that the host country's physiotherapy body is part of WCPT
The HCPC runs a health regulation website that lists all worldwide regulatory bodies. Remember to contact the physiotherapy organisation concerned before you leave the UK as part of your briefing.
And if you are considering applying for registration in New Zealand, be aware of a change in the registration process that came into force in May 2016.
British overseas territories
Because they have the largest populations, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar provide most opportunity for working in a different setting. Country profiles can be found on the government website: Foreign and Commonwealth office.
How to volunteer and arrange an elective
If you are interested in the possibility of international volunteering – either as an experienced practitioner or as a new graduate – read CSP guidance on working as a volunteer abroad.
For physio students seeking a placement abroad, either as an official university course elective or an independent placement, see CSP advice for students planning to work abroad.
In some countries, UK physio students have to be registered with the professional body and/or with the host university before travelling: please phone CSP Enquiries on 020 7306 6666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more help.
Help out in disaster relief
Physios are often needed to help as part of a relief effort following an international disaster. If you are interested in volunteering now or in the future, use the links below to find out more: