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How to apply for Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR)

Three doctors and nurses

At HEIW we are keen that SAS doctors have further access to the right advice particularly if they are considering embarking upon the CESR route to specialist registration.

As a consequence of this, we have developed a network of doctors across Wales who have achieved specialist registration through this route. We have also developed a CESR advice helpline so that doctors considering this route can contact us and obtain advice and guidance from doctors in their specialty who have achieved specialist registration via CESR.

If you would like to contact us for further advice, and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, our HEIW CESR advice helpline does not extend to HEIW funding your CESR application

CESR is a route for Doctors who wish to join the Specialist Register, whose specialist training, qualifications or experience (clinical and non-clinical) was partly or completely acquired outside of an approved CCT programme in the UK. It is equivalent to a CCT and certifies that the recipient has all the competences defined in the CCT curriculum, and so is eligible for admission to the Specialist Register. This can be obtained in the CCT Speciality, Non CCT speciality and Academic or Research Medicine. Most SAS doctors tend to apply for CCT Speciality.

Pre-requisite for CESR in CCT speciality:

You must have either a specialist qualification in the specialty you are applying in or at least six months continuous specialist training in the specialty you are applying in.

Pre-requisite for CESR in non-CCT speciality:

You must have either a specialist medical qualification from outside the UK in any non-CCT specialty or at least six months continuous specialist training outside the UK in any non-CCT specialty.

Period: GMC normally assesses each application and provides an outcome within 6 months of submission but you need to take your time with the application and this can take approximately 2 years of planning. You will need to make sure that all the evidence you submit is relevant and demonstrates current level of competency.

Important tips for applicants:

  1. Look at Speciality Specific Guidance, if some of the evidence is not available perhaps consider delaying the application
  2. Look at Speciality Specific Checklist if available from respective Royal Colleges.
  3. Check approved speciality and subspecialist curriculum from Royal Colleges, as it regularly changes. It is vital to review the curriculum in place at the time of application. The General Surgery curriculum has been updated recently and many speciality curriculum have been or are due to be updated.
  4. Read guidance on the GMC website. The GMC has recently revised their documentation requirements for CESR.
  5. Choose your referees carefully as they need to be able to comment on direct observation of your clinical competences. At least four referees with a maximum of six (from the last five years) are required. Remember to obtain their approval first and what they will need to do. Provide them with a copy of your CV.
  6. Emails from colleagues are good sources of information about yourself and could be used as supplementary evidence to support your application.
  7. Retain any emails which are work related which contain positive comments as this is also useful supplementary evidence to support your application.
  8. Discuss the process with colleagues in your speciality who have been granted CESR to obtain support and guidance on the completion of your application.
  9. Attend a CESR seminar organised by the BMA with help of GMC. It will provide you with practical guidance for filling in a CESR application.
  10. Review the curriculum requirements for your specialty on the JCST website. If you do not meet the criteria delay your application.
  11. Find out about the ARCP requirements for successful completion of ARCP and CCT from trainees in your specialty.
  12. The exam in the curriculum is not mandatory, although it’s the most effective way to demonstrate the knowledge aspect of the curriculum.
  13. It is important to construct your CV from scratch so that it matches the application form. If you submit a CV that does not contain the required information or you have not submitted all evidence as mentioned on the CV this will delay your application.
  14. Ensure that page numbers are provided on each document.

Validating the evidence

  • GMC does not apply the validation process as this has changed considerably to the GMC verification process as most of the applications are accepted electronically rather than hard copies. Please follow the GMC guidance

Authenticating your evidence

Evidence showing registration with overseas medical regulators or qualifications gained outside the UK have to be authenticated by a solicitor or from the overseas awarding body. (You will still need to have this stamped, signed and dated).


Remember to anonymise all patient information and personal information about colleagues (e.g. names, addresses, NHS numbers, GMC numbers or email addresses) whom you have assessed or written a reference for. Use white eraser ink to anonymise all evidence. The GMC will omit evidence that is not anonymised and can inform the Royal College. CAREFULLY CHECK EVERY WORD OF EACH DOCUMENT YOU HAVE PROVIDED. Several of the curriculum including the surgical speciality have moved away from the four domains in light of the curriculum updates recently.

Further information

Mr Raj Nirula
Associate Postgraduate Dean (SAS Doctors) Wales
Email us:
CESR Seminar

Please view this video of a CESR Seminar run by HEIW including officers from the General Medical Council.  It includes:

HEIW’s CESR support plan

Top tips when Applying for CESR

My journey through CESR (presentations from Dr Glenda Hill and Mr Parin Shah)

The application process

Breakout sessions, and question and answer sessions facilitated by the GMC