Global Moving: doctors also have no borders

7 de May, 2019

Global Moving: doctors also have no borders

Get to know the Global Moving initiative, which makes it easier for doctors to go abroad to help with health in other countries.
Reading: 7 min

In times of worldwide movement of qualified professionals, who has never met a doctor, college colleague, friend, cousin or friend of the friend who decided to venture out of Brazil? Learn more about Global Moving below.

Global Moving: the Road to Medical Emigration

Whether for the United States, England or Portugal, there is a world of possibilities for the exercise of our profession. Some paths are easier and others more tortuous, but there is almost always a path to follow in medical emigration.

Because it is an extremely regulated profession, medicine always requires a considerable amount of effort and time to be spent in order to be practised in a country other than the country of training. For example, Brazil itself requires that doctors trained abroad have to go through the much feared REVALID or similar revalidation processes in Brazilian universities, accredited by the MEC, to carry out the process.

However, with courage and some investment this project is viable!

Were you interested in the subject? Follow this article about Global Moving: the path to be followed by medical colleagues who wish to work in Portugal, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Do you want to live in Europe?

Realizing your goal of living in Europe or obtaining European citizenship can be simpler than you think. We offer personalized support to make the immigration process more accessible and uncomplicated.

Global Moving: Medical practice in Portugal

In order to practice medicine in Portugal, it is necessary to participate in a process of equivalence of the Brazilian Bachelor’s Degree/Licentiature/Graduation in Medicine.

This equivalence is achieved through a process that currently has a national regulation and in which the various Portuguese medical schools participate. Thus, you must elect one of the schools after the publication of a specific announcement for this purpose, being the process composed of 4 steps:

1. documentary stage, with the submission of the documents required for the application;
2. Theoretical test, which is currently a single exam and is held on the same date in all Portuguese Medical Schools;
3. Practical Test, to be conducted if the candidate has passed the previous stage, with a response to an actual clinical case;
4. Public Test, which is characterized by the presentation of a scientific work or curriculum report before a jury of teachers.

This process lasts, on average, 12 months. After approval at all stages the physician is able to enroll in the Order of Physicians.

  • Advantages of the process in Portugal: same language, which means that the candidate is exempted from the language level test;
  • Disadvantages of the process in Portugal: a long process that requires a visit to Portugal at least 3 times for the tests, which take place on different and distant dates.

Do you want to know more about being a doctor in Portugal? Read this article too.

Global Moving: Medical practice in Spain

The difficulty of many Brazilian doctors in requesting equivalence in Spain or any other foreign language country is the proof of the required linguistic level.

The Spanish Ministry of Education is responsible for the Homologation of Extranjero Higher Education Titles, in which the medical degree is included.

The process is basically documental, being necessary to deliver a series of documents, such as: passport, diploma, school history, CRM statement of how it is enrolled and has no disciplinary process, criminal history, programmatic content of the disciplines all with recognized and apostilled firms. In addition, a sworn translation of all documents except passports is required.

Attention: if you are graduated in UFRJ or in the Federal University of Pelotas, you don’t even need to deliver the programmatic contents.

The process lasts an average of 7 to 14 months and an administrative fee of approximately 163€ is charged.

  • Advantages of the process in Spain: the process is basically documental and can be done through specialized companies or even be sent by the headquarters of the Spanish consulate nearest you;
  • Disadvantages of the process in Spain: linguistic proof, through official examination (example: DELE) level B2 and need for sworn translation of all required documentation, which can be expensive.

physician without borders moving global

Global Moving: Medical practice in Germany

Like Spain, Germany requires a minimum level of proficiency B2 in general German, which must be proven by an internationally recognized examination, such as the Goethe- Zertifikat B2 or TELC.

In order to practice medicine in Germany, you will need a medical licence (Approbation) or a temporary authorisation (Berufserlaubnis), which is the responsibility of the body that regulates the practice of medicine (Landesprüfungsamt) in the German states.

It is an extremely bureaucratic, time-consuming and demanding process.

Required documents

First you will be asked for a list of documents that can range from the most obvious documents, such as CV, diploma and school transcript to the birth/marriage certificate. These documents will vary depending on which German state chooses to initiate the procedure.


The Fachsprachenprüfung is the specialist language examination for medicine. It will assess your fluency and comfort with medical terms, if you know how to write an anamnesis in German, how much communication you have with a patient. Basically they will assess whether you have the advanced level of communication required to practice medicine. This exam requires a C1 level of language.

As for the process of recognition of the medical knowledge part itself, you can basically opt for curricular comparison or simply take a medical knowledge/equivalence test (Kenntnisprüfung or Gleichwertigkeitsprüfung).

Curriculum comparison

In the case of curricular comparison, the process is longer and more expensive because you will have to deliver all the programmatic content of the subjects you studied at the original university and their respective sworn translation.

Remembering that there is always the risk that the jury will not consider your academic resume comparable to German and ask you to take the medical knowledge test anyway!

Thus, it is a very heterogeneous process and varies immensely between the states, with respect to the necessary documentation, process time and prices charged for the tests performed.

  • Advantages of the process in Germany: Germany is a country in great need of doctors and therefore has high employability and good wages when compared to other countries like Portugal or Spain.
  • Disadvantages of the process in Germany: The language is a major barrier and the process itself is demanding, time consuming and expensive.

Global Moving: Medical practice in England

England is one of the European countries where the process is very well established and organised. It is fully regulated by the GMC from the application for a license to practice medicine until its final registration.

It is a process that is initially documentary with all evidence of diploma, school records, professional practice, etc.. An IELTS English language test with a minimum score of 7.5 and a minimum score of 7 in the test bands or OET Medicine with a minimum of B in the various parts of the test is required to start the process.

After all the evaluation of the documentation, if it is not European, approvals will be required in 2 exams: PLAB 1 (theoretical) and PLAB 2 (practical). Only then will it be possible to make the final registration with a license to practice medicine.

The process has a very variable time, depending essentially on the completion and passing of the required exams. The part of the documentary assessment at the GMC is completed in 3 months on average.

Although for some the language issue is a barrier, I see English as one of the least demanding languages as many of us have at least some level in the language and it is much easier to improve and reach the required level when compared to German, for example.

  • Advantages of the process in England: language and employability;
  • Disadvantages of the procedure in England: Requires examinations, sworn translations and many documentary evidence of prior medical practice.

European Directive on Professional Recognition

Finally, it is worth highlighting the existence of a European Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005) that establishes the rules for the recognition of professional qualifications of a citizen in another Member State of the European Union, in the case of regulated professions.

As you know, the basic principle of the European Union is the free movement of goods and professionals. In this respect, the Directive is intended, among other professions, to facilitate the transit of doctors who have graduated in a Member State or who have undergone the procedure of equivalence of their qualification in any Member State. In other words, it regulates how a doctor trained in Portugal can practice medicine in Germany, for example.

However, it is important to stress that this directive applies ONLY to Community citizens, in other words, in particular to doctors who have European citizenship.

This means that if a medical professional who holds a European nationality holds a diploma equivalent to that of medical training in a European country and has practised medicine full-time (>40 hours a week) for three consecutive years over the last five years in that country, he will have an acquired right to recognition of his profession in another European country.

So, if you want to move to and work in Europe in the future, even in different countries, that can be possible and much easier for you as a European citizen!

There’s always a way

In this article we point out some examples of countries that are open to receiving foreign doctors. However, they all have their degree of difficulty in achieving the equivalence of the medical degree.

And for you who also do not want to have borders, just choose the country that best fits your expectations and desires, be they cultural, financial or climatic, and follow your path in search of the realization of this dream!

Be sure to also read my article about how it works in the National Health System in Portugal.

Article published on the Euro Tips website: https://www.eurodicas.com.br/global-moving-os-medicos-tambem-nao-tem-fronteiras/

Dr. Mariana Ramalho
Associate Medical Consultant



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