How to register as a physiotherapist in the UK

The page explains the process of registering with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is a legal requirement for all physiotherapists working in the UK.

A chartered physio in a consultation with a patient

All physiotherapists practising in the UK are required by law to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Registration is required for all public, private and voluntary work. It allows registrants to use the protected titles ‘physiotherapist’ or ‘physical therapist’. 

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent regulatory body responsible for registering allied health professionals including physiotherapists. It deals with:

  • protection of the public
  • recognition of professional qualifications
  • maintenance of standards of education and continuing professional development (CPD)
  • return to practice (for UK registrants)
  • conduct, performance and ethics
  • fitness to practise
  • setting and auditing standards for CPD.

To practise as a physiotherapist in the UK, you must join the HCPC register.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)

The HCPC and the CSP are separate organisations with different functions.

The CSP is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK’s physiotherapists, physio support workers and physio students. CSP membership is optional. Its purpose is to:

  • lead, promote and represent the profession by driving excellence in physiotherapy practice and employment
  • influence healthcare policy across the UK.

HCPC standards

Once you have registered with the HCPC, you will be regulated by them. There is important information on the HCPC website to help you to understand what standards are expected of you when practising in the UK.

The following documents outline the standards that all UK physiotherapists need to meet:

HCPC assessment process

The HCPC assesses applications on an individual basis to find out whether an applicant can fulfil their standards of proficiency. It is important to provide information about your physiotherapy training and additional professional experience on the application form. The application form is what assessors will use to make their decision. 

Quite often, applicants do not include sufficient information or evidence in HCPC applications in the following areas:

  • Work settings, range of service users and type of services provided
  • Types of assessments, treatments and evaluation methods used
  • Information about record keeping, reflective practice and quality assurance
  • Theoretical and practical aspects of training/experience in the three main areas (neurology, respiratory and musculoskeletal)
  • Any evidence supporting ‘autonomous practice’ (if applicable)
  • Use of research in clinical practice in both initial assessment and treatment progression.

There are various ways to address these points. The easiest way is by providing curricula/course information. Another way is by providing references from supervisors, even if these relate solely to placements while studying. Statements or case studies from applicants referencing any of these areas could also be included in the submission.

Language competence

Sufficient English language skills are required to practise safely and effectively, so the HCPC might ask you to sit a language test or provide other evidence of your level of English. 

The HCPC website gives information on the requirements for proof of English language proficiency.

Outcome of the registration process

Your application will have one of the following outcomes:

  • You'll be accepted on to the HCPC register
  • The HCPC will request further information or invite you to attend a Test of Competence (TOC) based on the profession’s Standards of Proficiency or invite you to undergo ‘compensation measures’
  • You'll be refused admission onto the register
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