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18/04/2024  •  Blog, Career centre

A guide to social work registration for overseas candidates

Use this list of sections to navigate to different areas within the guide:

In England, all social workers must be registered with Social Work England to practise the profession. If you’re planning to apply for social work jobs as an overseas candidate, you need to understand how to join the Social Work England register. To support you throughout your application process and speed up your request to join, we have created a comprehensive guide to talk you through the steps of applying for a social work registration as an overseas candidate.

The UK employment market is seeing a demand for new social workers, and this is set to continue to rise in the coming years. In the 2022/23 period, there were around 152,000 open social work positions. Vacancies were down 11,000 from the previous period, partly because of more international recruitment of social workers.

As part of the strategy to reduce the number of open positions, the government is looking for overseas social workers like you who have the experience and skills to join the UK workforce.

What is a Social Work England registration?

A Social Work England registration is a record demonstrating the right to legally practise social work in England. You can join the register whether you have qualified in or outside of the UK.

Once you have a social work registration, you must renew it annually to demonstrate that you meet the professional standards of Social Work England.

Why register with Social Work England as an overseas candidate

The term Social Worker is a protected title in the UK. If you want to use it in England, you must be registered with Social Work England. The regulatory body oversees the different routes to becoming a social worker, and they assess evidence to make sure that all social workers are suited to the role.

If you’re found to be practising as a social worker without being on the Social Work England register, they will investigate you as misuse of the title constitutes a criminal offence. If you have a pending application with Social Work England and are suspected of falsely using this protected title, your application will be put on hold while they investigate.

Social Work England registration fees

Just before you submit your application, you will be asked to pay a non-refundable scrutiny fee for international applications of £495. Once you have received confirmation that your application has been accepted, you will need to pay a registration fee of £90, which is due every year to renew your registration. The easiest way to make your payments is through your Social Work England online account using GOV.UK Pay.

Keep in mind that your first registration fee payment may be less depending on when you make your application during the year. This fee will need to be paid within 10 working days of Social Work England’s first request for payment. If you don’t pay it within this time, your application will be closed, and you will need to make another request to join the register.

How long a Social Work England registration takes

Your application to join the Social Work England register should be assessed within 60 working days, allowing for enough time to complete all necessary checks. Social Work England will ask that you supply everything on their pre-application checklist, including evidence, so they can assess the information you provide without unnecessary delays.

Note that working days don’t include Saturdays, Sundays and UK bank holidays. If they do require any additional information, your application can take longer than 60 working days.

How to join the Social Work England register in the UK

To join the Social Work England register, you will need to create an online account, have all your information to hand and have enough money to pay the non-refundable scrutiny fee. You will need to prove your experience and English language skills, complete the pre-application checklist, and provide any additional information they might need.

Being prepared will help you to meet the application requirements to join the register and avoid delays.

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Experience, skills and knowledge

Professional experience

It’s necessary that you provide any professional experience when applying for the Social Work England register. Social work typically refers to child protection and adult social care in the UK, which may be different to social work and similar professions in other countries. If your experience doesn’t directly reflect the roles and responsibilities described by Social Work England, we advise that you to provide additional information when submitting your application to avoid potential delays.

To register, you must have completed the following:

  • A social work qualification which satisfies Social Work England or is of a standard that is comparable to an approved English social work qualification.
  • Additional social work training or experience in the UK or overseas, which satisfies Social Work England and meets their necessary standards for entry to the register.

For international candidates, Social Work England will check that your qualification is of a standard comparable to an approved English social work qualification by checking if you have:

  • At least 200 days (including up to 30 skill days) gaining multiple experiences and learning in practice settings. Each day is made up of seven hours.
  • Finished placements in a minimum of two practice settings that provide contrasting experiences.
  • Completed a minimum of one placement within a statutory setting. You should have gained experience of statutory social work tasks (which will involve high risk decision making and legal interventions).

Social Work England might consider your additional professional experience if your course does not meet the requirements above.

Supporting documents to prove qualifications

During this part of the application, you need to make sure all your experiences are backed up by evidence. For social work overseas applicants, you will need to provide a full transcript, showing the modules you studied and fill out an updating skills and knowledge form.

Plus, you will need your passport for the online ID verification check. However, if you can’t use the online service, there is the option for you to attach a high-resolution digital photograph of your ID for manual verification. Bear in mind that using the manual verification service may delay your application.

If your documents are not written in English, you must provide a certified translation alongside the original. This needs to be dated and must include contact details of the translator or translating company.

If your course is not on the list of overseas qualifications

If your course is not listed on Social Work England’s list of overseas qualifications, you must include a course information form or provide a letter of training and experience. The supporting letter needs to outline how your education, training and experience aligns with Social Work England’s professional standards. As an overseas application, we recommend you send both, the form and letter, to prevent any delays in your application.

Make sure to provide details of any placements you have completed if you have not worked since you first qualified. You should provide as much information as possible to make sure that there are no delays in your application.

Further considerations


When you submit your application, you will be asked to declare the information that you have provided is correct and in line with the standards of practice that Social Work England has established. You must also declare anything that might affect your ability to safely and effectively practise social care work.

Note: Social Work England will ask for additional information regarding any declarations you have made.

Pre-application checklist

Before you start your application to join the Social Work England register, read through their pre-application checklist gather and prepare all necessary information and documentation. Following this checklist will help you avoid delays, so you can join and become a registered social worker faster.

Get help with your Social Work England application as an overseas candidate

Applying to be on the Social Work England register requires preparation and can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with the regulatory body. You may find it extra challenging if your qualifications and experience don’t exactly match those listed on their website.

Mistakes or missing information can delay your application. You should read through the Social Work England overseas applicant guide or contact them directly if you have questions throughout the application process.

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