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Social work regulators in the UK

Social work regulation is devolved in the UK, which means that social workers are regulated by separate bodies in England (the HCPC), Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

We have agreed a memorandum of understanding with Social Care Wales, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) – collectively the 'Four Councils'. It sets out a framework for the working relationship between the Four Councils in relation to regulation of social workers.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes. You need to complete a UK application form and indicate which regulator you are currently registered with.

  • You are not able to practise as a social worker in England unless you are registered with us. However, if you are registered in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can work in England on a 'temporary' basis. 

    Refer to the memorandum of understanding for more information.

  • Yes. We recognise programmes that the other councils have approved, so you can apply to us directly for registration by completing a UK application.

  • As part of the agreement in place with councils, we recognise registration with another Care Council as conferring eligibility to register with the HCPC. Therefore, you should complete the application form for “UK approved course” applicants.

  • Prior to December 2011, it was possible to transfer registration from one Care Council to another or, alternatively, apply for additional country registration, whereby individuals were registered with more than one Care Council although only paid a registration fee to the “lead” Council. The decision was taken to bring this registration route to a close.

    Under the new system, you would be required to apply for registration with the HCPC and pay registration fees to the HCPC in order to practise as a social worker in England.

    Should you wish to continue to practise in Scotland, even on an occasional basis, you would need to retain your registration with the Scottish Social Services Council. This would mean that you would be dual registered and would need to renew your registration, and pay fees, to both Councils.

Page updated on: 17/10/2018