How to register as a physiotherapist in the UK

Find out more about the process of registering with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is a legal requirement for all physiotherapists working in the UK.

Three physios talking in a clinical setting

To practise as a physiotherapist in the UK you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is the regulatory body for physiotherapists and some other allied health professions (AHPs).

'Physiotherapist' and 'physical therapist' is a legally protected title in the UK which means you can only use this title to describe yourself or your profession if you are registered as a physiotherapist with the HCPC.

What’s the difference between the HCPC and CSP?

The HCPC is the regulatory body for physiotherapists in the UK. This is different to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), which is the professional body and trade union for physiotherapists in the UK.

To become registered with the HCPC as a physiotherapist you must meet the HCPC criteria. This is outlined in their standards or proficiency documents. Criteria for registration with HCPC includes professional liability insurance (PLI), which is provided with full membership of the CSP.

HCPC standards

The HCPC standards are the foundation of how the HCPC regulate the physiotherapy profession in the UK. These standards explain what is expected of registrants. There are three sets of standards:

There is also information on the HCPC website about how to register, how to meet the standards and how to use reflection.

There is a very informative video series detailing each of the ten standards of conduct, performance and ethics to explain these further.          

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.

Top tips: See the HCPC guidance on making an application

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

Full information on the process for international applicants can be found on the HCPC website.

For further information contact: 

Registration Department
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Park House
184 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4BU
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 845 300 4472/+44 (0) 20 7582 5460
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7840 9801

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