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The Ultimate Guide to UAE Medical Licensing for Doctors

The Ultimate Guide to UAE Medical Licensing for Doctors

The United Arab Emirate’s well established and expanding healthcare sector recruits medical professionals from around the world. Doctors are attracted to relocate to the UAE as it offers higher salaries, zero income tax, and an improved quality of life.

The UAE healthcare recruitment market is dynamic and competitive. Hospitals looking to fill vacancies quickly prefer candidates who have already proved their eligibility to work in the country. Therefore, if you are a doctor considering relocating to work in the UAE, it is highly advisable to start the medical licensing process as early as possible.

The process can seem daunting, but our experienced licensing team can help you navigate the process smoothly, saving you both time and stress.

Medical Licensing Authorities in the UAE

The UAE authorities have developed rigorous systems for verifying identity, qualifications, skills and experience to ensure that healthcare professionals are licensed to practise safely in accordance with the UAE law and international best practices.

There are 3 different authorities who regulate the licensing of medical professionals within different emirates of the UAE:

● Department of Health (DOH) for Abu Dhabi

● Dubai Health Authority (DHA) for Dubai

● Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) for all other emirates; Sharjah and

Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman.

Unified Healthcare Professional Qualification Requirements (PQR)

The Unified Healthcare Professional Qualification Requirements (PQR) document lists the licensing titles and the requirements and specifications for each of those titles. The required post-qualification experience depends on the profession and grade. Candidates must have a valid professional licence to practise in their home country and/or country of last employment.

For more information see:

There are 5 steps in the Medical Licensing Process

1. Create a new application

The process starts with creating an account with a username and password on the relevant medical licensing authority’s platform, before initiating the ‘New License’ process. It is advisable for an applicant to plan which emirate they wish to work in before applying for licensure with the corresponding authority.

Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH)


Dubai Health Authority (DHA)

Ministry of Health (MOHAP) .

Online forms must then be completed with comprehensive personal and professional details.

The Professional Qualification Requirements (PQR) are the same for all UAE licensing authorities. The requirements vary according to healthcare profession, qualifications, country of training, specialty and grade.

The DHA has a self-assessment tool that allows applicants to assess whether they meet the Unified Healthcare Professional Qualification Requirements (PQR) before starting the application.

2. Upload documents

The required documents, as set out by the PQR, should be uploaded for Primary Source

Verification (PSV). This is the process of confirming the accuracy and authenticity of academic, professional and legal credentials, and is outsourced to DataFlow – a leading global provider of specialised PSV solutions.

Required documents may include (but not limited to):

● Educational certificates

● Professional qualification certificates

● Recent professional and employment experience

● For dental and surgical specialties: log book for the last 2 years with hospital

stamp(s) and signature of the Medical Director or other authorised person

● Valid licence/registration from medical licensing body of country of recent


● Valid good standing certificate, not older than 6 months

● Valid Passport Copy

● Recent Photo

● Academic transcripts

3. Primary Source Verification (DataFlow)

Primary Source Verification (PSV) usually takes between 6 to 12 weeks. For the MOHAP, initial approval of the uploaded documents is required before the Primary Source Verification can start.

Once the PSV is completed, a positive Dataflow report is issued which must be linked to the DHA/DOH/MOHAP application. The DataFlow report can also be used for all the licensing authorities in the UAE, as well as for many other Gulf countries, and the verifications never expire.

4. Verification Exams (if required)

The PQR has a tier system that recognises postgraduate qualifications and training

programmes from specific countries [15]. According to the exam equivalency criteria, healthcare professionals who have successfully completed international examinations and/or hold an active registration/licence to practise with certain regulatory bodies (allocated to tier 1) will be exempted from the assessment.

Exam Equivalency Criteria

Profession Tier 1 Countries Consultant

Austria, Australia, Belguim, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France,

Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand,

Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA,

Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UAE, UK or USA

Applicants from Tier 1 countries are exempted from licensing exams if they have completed recognised international exams and/or hold an active licence to practise with certain regulatory bodies, and meet experience requirements, as defined by the PQR.

Applicants with other qualifications or licences (allocated to Tier 2 or 3) are usually required to pass an assessment before obtaining a licence to practise in the UAE. Applicants should check current requirements, and the correct Tier for their particular qualifications, as these vary according to specialty and are subject to change. Additional equivalency criteria or exemptions may be applied at the discretion of each individual authority.

The mode of assessment depends on the healthcare professionals title and training.

● Computer based tests (CBTs), on a healthcare professional’s specialty, are

outsourced to globally recognised companies, Prometric or Pearson. They can be

taken at many testing centres around the world.

● Oral examinations, usually taken in the UAE, involve a panel of senior consultants

from the applicant’s field asking scenario-based clinical questions, to assess their

knowledge and competency.

For the DOH (Abu Dhabi), the DataFlow report must be completed before booking

examinations. For the DHA and MOHAP, these exams may be booked while waiting for the DataFlow report. However, for the DHA, the DataFlow must be completed before any oral examination. The time frame for assessments depends on the specialist panel or test centre availability.

Three attempts are allowed to pass either CBT or oral exams. Applicants may be granted one last attempt in a different authority after failing three attempts with another authority. If still unsuccessful, the professional may only apply for a different speciality or a higher title with a new qualification providing they fulfil the relevant PQR criteria.

5. Registration and Licensing

The DHA and MOHAP issue a registration certificate, which can be shown to potential employers as proof of eligibility to practise in the UAE. Once the Dataflow and any examination are successfully completed, an application for registration can be submitted.

The DHA or MOHAP usually respond within 1-2 weeks, and may ask for additional

information if required. The registration is activated into a licence once the candidate successfully secures a job. Registration is valid for one year for the DHA or 5 years for the MOHAP and can be easily renewed, provided there is no discontinuity in practice.

For the DOH (Abu Dhabi) there is no registration certificate issued. The applicant must have an employer sponsorship letter in order to complete the licensing process.

Once a professional obtains their licence, they must comply with Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements for their specialty in order for this to be renewed on an annual basis. Physicians and dentists in surgical specialties should also provide logbook(s) as a prerequisite for renewing the licence.

Frequently asked questions about the UAE medical licensing process

Q. How long does the licensing process take?

The time required for the licensing process varies. From past experience, professionals from tier 1 countries whose training programmes are recognised by the UAE licensing authorities,

the process may take an average of 3 to 6 months. However, where examinations are required it may take up to 12 months. Unexpected delays can occur if there are requests for additional documents or issues with verifying documents in their country of origin.

Q. Is it necessary to obtain a medical licence before applying for jobs in the UAE?

The UAE healthcare recruitment market is dynamic and competitive. Hospitals looking to fill vacancies as soon as possible prefer candidates who have already proved their eligibility to work in the country. For the DHA and MOHAP, it is advisable to obtain your registration for applying for jobs. For the DOH – Abu Dhabi, there is no registration step before obtaining a licence, but you can start the process and obtain the DataFlow report to make the licensing

process quicker.

Q. If I have a DOH (Abu Dhabi) licence can I work in Dubai, or vice versa?

No. You will need to apply to the licensing authority that has jurisdiction over the emirate you want to work in. However, the DataFlow report is transferable. In addition, once a healthcare

professional is working for at least 6 months in the UAE, they can apply for a licence with a different UAE health authority without having to repeat a licensing examination.

Q. Can I apply for a medical licence if I have a gap in practice?

If you have a gap in practice exceeding 2 years, continuing medical education CME

requirements must be fulfilled, and additional training may be required. In general non-UAE nationals will not be able to apply for a licence if they have a gap of clinical practice for more than 2 years.

Q. What is attestation for documents? Is it needed for the licensing process?

Attestation is the process of obtaining legal authentication, through a country’s embassy, for a document which has been issued in another country. This is a legal process and different from the DataFlow Primary Source Verification.

Attestation is not routinely required for the licensing process. However, it is often necessary to get documents such as professional qualifications and birth or marriage certificates attested for a UAE employment visa application. It is usually quicker and less expensive to get your documents attested in your home country, before moving to the UAE.

In Conclusion

The UAE maintains a strict medical licensing process, to ensure that all doctors working in the country meet the required standards. Navigating the exacting medical licensing process takes time and patience. Applicants are required to provide accurate information and cooperate with the process.

Allocation Assist’s in-house dedicated and experienced licensing team understands the process inside out, as this is what they do every day. They have successfully helped hundreds of doctors obtain their licence to work in the UAE. This support throughout the medical licensing process can save busy healthcare professionals time and stress.

Benefits of using our licensing service:

● Our team are experienced in handling even the most complex cases

● We will guide you on the documents required and pre-check them to make sure they match the requirements, avoiding time-consuming requests for further documentation

● Our team will create an application and upload all your documents

● We closely monitor your application and provide you with weekly status updates

● In case of any unforeseen delays or complications, we will update you immediately and work with you to resolve the issue

● Once the primary source verification is complete, we link the Dataflow report to your application

● We offer continuous support all the way through the process of registration, licensing and beyond

In addition, with our unique insights into the UAE’s healthcare recruitment market at Allocation Assist, we are able to:

● Connect you with hospitals in the UAE that match your profile and skill set

● Offer consulting support with your profile / contract / salary.

● Guide you and your family through the relocation process

● Provide you with insights on living and working in the UAE

Visit our website today for more information.

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