Overseas nurses will undergo extra competence and skills checks under a new registration system to be launched by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) this autumn.
NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said the move would boost public protection.
“When we put someone on the register, ensuring they can practise to UK standards is terribly important,” she told Nursing Times.
The new process will see nurses who trained outside Europe apply to join the NMC register online before doing a two-part competence test.
They will first sit an online exam at a local centre and then complete a practical test in the UK in a simulated practice environment.
Applicants will also have to provide all the relevant documents including identification, university transcripts, and language certificates to show they have good command of English.
The introduction of the new system follows a review of registration processes for overseas applicants, which revealed a number of weaknesses.
The NMC stopped processing overseas applications between February and April last year, which led to a backlog.
However, Ms Smith said the regulator was now “back on track”. “We paused the process for a while to make sure we had all the right procedures in place to carry out the right checks on individuals,” she said.
“That did create a delay and impacted on people who wanted to join the register but now we’re back on track.”