HCPC guidance for international applications

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has some top tips for those making an international application to register as a physiotherapist.

Watch guidance from the HCPC 

In this 16-minute video, an advisor talks to international master's students about making their application.


Application tips from the HCPC


• The Standards of Proficiency (SOPs) for Physiotherapists
• The application requirements carefully.
• Standards 4 and 14 closely. These are the proficiencies that often require additional information.


• The full course information for your primary physiotherapy qualification.
• The full course information for any additional physiotherapy qualifications you have such as a relevant master’s degree or PhD.
• The full course information for any other courses you want considered.


• How activities you have undertaken in your work demonstrate you meet the UK standards. 
• Use examples across different specialist areas to show how you can meet the core areas required areas of UK standards.
• Focus on key professional skills that show you can make independent decisions and respond to changes in patient presentation.


• How your own work demonstrates you meet the standards of proficiency.
• The specific situations requested if you need a second assessment – don’t repeat information.
• What is asked for – don’t provide everything you know about a topic as this may not be relevant.


• Provide course certificates on their own – they demonstrate nothing.
• Describe hospital and/or clinic facilities – it’s not relevant.
• Provide or repeat any information that is not asked for – it may not count.
• Copy information from the internet – you application must be your own work.


• Unnecessary over-examination of patients if you provide case studies. You must show you can select an relevant level of assessment.
• Planning every possible treatment for a given condition. You must show you can select appropriate interventions from a range of possibilities.
• Pre-determining treatment frequency and duration from the beginning. You must show that treatment is provided and modified in line with assessed need.
• Providing extensive descriptions from text books. This does not show what your clinical capabilities are.


Guidance for different stages of application and assessment 

Application stage

  1. Read the Standards of Proficiency (SOPs) for Physiotherapists carefully. This is the document against which your application will be judged.
  2. Ensure you provide the full course information for your primary physiotherapy qualification. The assessors will read this first and map the details in that document to the SOPs and then identify any proficiencies that are outstanding. They will list the outstanding proficiencies in the form
  3. Ensure you provide the full course information for any additional physiotherapy qualifications you have such as a relevant Master’s Degree or PhD.
  4. Don’t worry if you do not yet have experience of working in the UK. The assessors are looking for information that you will be able to work safely and effectively in the UK in line with UK standards of practice and you will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate this through the process.


First Record of Assessment (ROA)

  1. Primary Qualification: Ensure you provide the full course information for your primary physiotherapy qualification. The assessors will read this first and map the details in that document to the SOPs and then identify any proficiencies that are outstanding. They will
    list the outstanding proficiencies in the form if there are any, or admit you to the Register if your primary qualification demonstrates all the UK SOPs
  2. Additional Training: Ensure you provide the full course information for any additional physiotherapy qualifications you have such as a relevant Master’s Degree or PhD. It is essential to do this because your secondary qualification may provide evidence that you can demonstrate any outstanding proficiencies from your primary qualification. If you do not provide this information with your original application this will delay your application as the Assessors will ask you to provide this information.
  3. You are invited to provide information on any relevant training that you believe helps you demonstrate the SOPs. However, remember a certificate of attendance or course certificate alone provides no information about what you have studied or what you can do and so, on their own, provide no useful information to the Assessors. If you believe the course is relevant, make sure you provide more detailed course information for these short courses as well. The Assessors will map the information you provide about additional training to see if it covers any proficiencies that were not covered in the primary qualification.
  4. Experience: If there are still some proficiencies that have not been demonstrated by looking at all your qualification and training, the Assessors will look to your previous experience so see if you have acquired the proficiencies whilst working. It is essential therefore that you describe what you have done –
  5. Don’t include internships or practice placements that were part of your primary or additional training as these will have already been considered by the Assessors and add nothing new.
  6. Don’t spend time describing the hospital and/or clinic and the facilities they offers. These tell the Assessors nothing about what you can do and so will not be taken into consideration.
  7. You can provide a copy of your job description for each period of experience if it provides enough information about what you as an individual did in your role. The Assessors are looking for a demonstration of specific skills and abilities related to the SOPs, therefore it is always helpful to pick out key aspect of your job role and provide a more detailed example of how you undertook a particular job requirement.
  8. If you include information from your line manager and/or employer in this section please make sure it provides sufficient description of your abilities in relation to the SOPs document. A general character reference or general opinion of your performance at work is unlikely to provide enough detail against the SOPs to fill in any gaps that you might have.
  9. Outstanding Proficiencies Each application is considered individually and the Record of Assessment is personalised to ensure you are assessed against the information you have provide. Once the Assessors have considered all your information they will identify if you
    have any proficiencies outstanding. They will then ask you to provide further information that is specifically related to your outstanding proficiencies.
  10. You must read this information carefully as this is where the Assessors tell you what they need to see. The further information you provide will be considered in the second ROA


Second Record of Assessment

  1. Do not provide any information not asked for: you do not need to provide any information relating to the proficiencies that have been met in the first ROA. You only need to provide information relating to the outstanding proficiencies and the assessors will have clearly set out what they need from you.
  2. Make sure you re-read the HCPC SOPs again and make sure you are clear what the outstanding proficiencies are are.
  3. Tailor any information you provide to make sure it clearly addresses what the assessors are looking for. Be careful not to simply provide all the information you know about a particular topic – this is not what the assessors are looking for. You must make sure you
    provide relevant and appropriate information that addresses the outstanding proficiencies.
  4. If you are providing a case study remember you are using it to demonstrate any outstanding proficiencies, not show everything you know about something. Your examination must be relevant to the case study and it must be clear why you are doing it. Be careful, if you provide information that suggest you have over examined a patient it may indicate you are unable to demonstrate you can do a clinically relevant assessment. Similarly, if you simply list all modalities that could be used to treat a condition, it may indicate you are unable describe how you identify a specific modality to use based on the results of your assessment. Clinical reasoning is an essential part of UK practice.


Test of Competence

  1. This is your final opportunity to show the Assessors you meet the UK SOPs.
  2. Treat this event very seriously. Assessors will making a decision if you can be registered
    to work in the UK.
  3. Read your ROA – this will tell you in advance what areas the Assessors will be focussing
  4. If you don’t understand the question or what is asked of you –ask for clarification.
  5. Answer the questions you are asked – again the assessors are looking to see if you have the proficiencies that haven’t yet been demonstrated; they are not looking to see that you know everything about a condition.



  1. Each application is considered individually and the Records of Assessment are personalised to ensure you are assessed against the information you provide and any proficiency gaps are relevant to you.
  2. Common proficiencies that you may be asked to provide further information on might
    a.  4.1
    b.  4.2
    c.  4.5
    d. 14.7
    e. 14.8
    f.  14.11
    g. 14.12
    h. 14.15
    i.  14.16
  3. Ensure information is specific enough to describe what your abilities are and that it matches up to a Standard of Proficiency that has been identified as deficient so far in your application. General information and information that does not directly relate to your individual work does not help the assessors.


Go to the HCPC website for more information. 

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