How to Japa to the UK as a Nurse (A complete guide to practicing nursing in the UK).

If you’re planning to “japa” to the UK as a nurse and you’re looking to find a complete checklist that would inform your decisions throughout the relocation process, then this is the place to be!

Although preparing to practice nursing in the UK might seem like a huge task, you might be pleased to know that you’re not alone in this process. Many health workers in Nigeria consider nursing in the UK as the main location for their migration plans and desires.

The amount of Nigeria-trained nurses on the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of the United Kingdom (UK) rose by 54.4 percent (4,310) in March 2021, the highest in five years, compared with 2,792 in March 2017.

The reason why there are so many Nigerians practicing nursing in the UK, is because of the cheap and easy entry migration requirements of the country. The dire shortage of nurses is another reason. It is advisable to take advantage of this opportunity to find your feet in the UK as a nurse, sooner than later! 


Nursing in the UK.

NHS Nursing Bands.

In the UK, a banding system is used. A Band 5 is an entry level nurse. This is where some international nurses start out. Generally, they are expected to start in a hospital setting and then progress within your ward. A Band 6 is a Nursing specialist or a senior nurse and likely to be in charge from time to time and a Band 7 is an advanced nurse or “sister” and likely to be in charge every shift they work. A band 8 nurse is a modern matron or a chief nurse. There is a need for some key managerial skills here. A band 9 nurse is at the peak of the hierarchy. They are senior members of NHS management who help shape high level decision making.


There are pay increments with each banding. That means you a shoo in for steady promotions if you practice nursing in the UK. You would stilll need to do some research on a complete guide on the pay schedule for nurses in the UK.
In general, A band 5 nurse will start with a salary of £24,907 a year. Band 6 roles start at £31,365 and rise to £37,890 for nurses with more than 7 years of experience. Band 7 roles start at £38,890 and rise to £44,503 for anyone with more than 7 years of experience. Band 8 roles start at £45,753 and can rise to £87,754 a year due to the extra responsibility and long hours. Band 9 roles start at £91,004 and rise to more than £100,000 a year.

Holidays and Annual Leave.

Every working nurse in the UK has an annual leave entitlement of 27 days per year, plus eight general/public holidays. This then rises to 33 days after 10 years.

Annual leave would be taken with the agreement of your employer. There is no legal right to choose when to take your annual leave in the UK as a nurse; your employer will need to balance your right to take leave against the needs of the service and to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

Working Hours.

The standard hours of a full-time UK nurse is 37.5 per week, excluding meal breaks. 60% of nurses and midwives work 12-hour shifts, typically from 7am to 7pm, or 7pm to 7am; this enables the NHS to offer patients 24-hour care.

Why you should consider practicing nursing in the UK.

If you’re still a little unsure about practicing nursing in the UK, here are some full-proof reasons why you should choose the UK as your work destination as a registered nurse.

  1. The UK economic growth is outstanding and persistent across diverse in-house industries and enterprises.
  2. There is great demand for skilled and qualified workers to contribute to the economy. As a result, moving to the UK as a nurse is easier.
  3. There is an existing African community with a considerable number of successful Nigerians. You wouldn’t feel alone at all!
  4. You will have access to high-quality and free healthcare services dispersed through the National Health Service (NHS). Your nursing career in the UK will grow steadily.
  5. World-renowned educational across universities and colleges.
  6. The strong passport that facilitates travel across the globe

The Steps you need to take to Japa!

International passport.

The first step is to apply for an international passport because you would need it to register for IELTS. It can take between 24 hours or some weeks or even months depending on the situation of things at the Immigration office.

IELTS/OET tests.

NMC currently accepts two language tests as evidence of your ability to communicate effectively in English: the International English Language Test System (IELTS) and the Occupational English Test (OET). You cannot practice nursing in the UK without these tests. The IELTS and the OET are used across the world. They are often chosen to test the language competency of healthcare professionals in the UK

The least qualifications for the IELTS exam is at least 6.5 in the writing sections, 7.0 in the listening, reading and speaking sections, and

at least 7.0 overall. It could cost between N75,000 – N80,000. The results will be out in 14 days after the examination.

OET accepts at least a C+ grade in writing, and

a B grade in Listening, reading and speaking. It is currently about N150,000. Test scores are valid for two years.

NMC UK membership registration.

After passing your proficiency exams, you will need to go to the NMC official website and set up an account.

A registration fee of £140 (about N51,800) will be required at some point here. Notable documents that will be required include verification of your NMCN license and university/school of nursing results.

Verification of nursing qualifications with the NMCN.

Here, you will have to apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) for verification of your nursing qualification certificate and license. This will cost about N17,500.

The necessary documents are: Notification/Certificate, letter requesting for verification and good standing, Valid licence, CRM from NMC portal and birth certificate.

Computer Based Test with Pearson VUE.

Once your eligibility has been ascertained and NMC you have been told to take the Computer-Based Test (CBT), you will need to proceed to register for the test with their test provider Pearson VUE  at a cost of £90 (about N33,300).

This is the first of two tests of competence that you are required to take. The test will assess your knowledge of theoretical practice in major areas of nursing including general (adult) nursing, children’s nursing, learning disabilities nursing, mental health nursing, and midwifery. It will cover professional values, communication, nursing decision-making and leadership. All these are necessary skills needed to practice nursing in the UK.  You must complete the entire application process within two years of passing the CBTThe test results usually come out within 48 hours.

Upload documents to NMC.

After passing the CBT, you’d go to your NMC portal and upload your personal documents such as your nursing certificate, IELTS/OET results, name and details of medical regulator (that is a medical doctor of your choice). Remember to monitor your progress from time to time.

Pay NMC registration fee.

Here, you would be paying the NMC registration fee of £153 (67,000). This was to be paid after passing OSCE in the UK but it is now paid while in Nigeria. After the payment, NMC will send an email to your medical doctor/regulator for your health declaration, so you have to inform your doctor beforehand.

NMC will also ask for your good standing from NMCN and as soon as response is gotten, it is automatically updated on your portal. It is important to always check your portal in order to monitor your progress. 

Job Hunting.

Immediately after passing IELTS/OET and CBT, one can start searching for a job. However this shouldn’t scare or worry you because there are plenty of jobs for international nurses in the UK. You can find jobs on the NHS website  or on this inclusive nursing website.

CV building.

It is absolutely necessary to build an appropriate nursing CV as it would be vital in your application process. You will need one or two documents like IELTS, CBT results, passport etc. Keep them handy during your application process.

Applications and interviews.

Apply for a registered or pre-registration nurse job in the UK (look out for band 5 jobs).

It is important to also make research on the area where the hospital is located before making a choice, as there is variable cost of living per area. 

You will also have an online interview (remember to smile). It would make you a lot more pleasant and approachable. As soon as the interview is successful, one will be asked to sign an offer letter.

Offer Letter.

This usually takes a day or some days after the interview is completed. The offer letter comes with the relocation package. Your employer may cover your flight fees, visa fees, medical screening fees, IELTS/OET, CBT exam fees, COS fees, accommodation and OSCE fees. Isn’t that good news? This is why you must endeavor have enough information about the hospital and location, and what the relocation package is before signing the offer letter.

Your offer letter states your salary and what band you are starting with. Some employers consider your years of experience in Nigeria as basis to begin your nursing career in the UK.

Medical Screening.

The UK requires you to have a negative Tuberculosis (TB) result which is valid for 6 months before entering into the United Kingdom. This costs N57,800. The result is usually out within hours. Remember not to do it too early until you are sure of your start date.

Police clearance certificate.

Police clearance is to certify that you have no criminal record. It will cost about N15,000 depending on one’s location. It is valid for three months.

Certificate of sponsorship (COS).

A COS is needed to show that you have a sponsor. That way, there won’t be any need for a bank statement to apply for a visa. In order to apply for a COS, your employer will require some documents from you such as, police clearance certificate, TB certificate etc. If you have a spouse and/or children remember to inform your employer to have your COS cover your dependents (spouse and children).

Tier 2 Visa Application.

After receiving COS, you can book for your tier 2 visa biometric appointment. You can find information online to help inform your process. It takes three weeks for the decision to be out. There are TLS centres in Lagos and Abuja.

Arrive in the UK and sit your OSCE Exam.

After arriving in the UK as a nurse, your employer will book you for OSCE and OSCE training sessions. After that, you will be fully qualified to become a band 5 nurse after passing OSCE and to practice nursing in the UK.

In Conclusion.

It is my greatest wish that this article serves as a “japa bible” for nurses who are hoping to leave the country as soon as possible.

It might be helpful to note the need for proper research on the area where you would be staying. Check if it is a low crime area and whether it has schools in the vicinity(if you have children). You would need to get this sorted out quickly, because you need an address to get your bank account set up. If you need to drive, make sure you get a UK driving licence because non-EU licence is only valid for a year. They also drive on the left side of the road!

Drop comments to let me know what you think about this guide to practicing nursing in the UK.

Best wishes on your relocation journey!


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