Dentistry – your ticket around the globe? Part three

dentistryThinking of moving abroad? Roshan Bains explores what requirements dentists need to practise elsewhere. In part three, he looks at UAE and Singapore.

It is estimated that about 5.5 million people from Britain currently live overseas and are leaving at a rate of 8,000 a month.

With UK economic growth falling yearly since 2014 and Brexit uncertainty, the number of British expats looking to settle elsewhere in the world is set to see an increase.

In part one we looked at moving to USA and Canada. Part two covered moving to Australia and New Zealand.

In this article we’ll discuss your routes of entry into target destinations popular with other British expats.

Dubai and UAE

Dubai’s cosmopolitan lifestyle and largely tax-free living has always magnetised skilled workers into the area.

The UAE does however consist of six other emirates (states): Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain.

The two largest emirates – Dubai and Abu Dhabi – account for over 80% of the UAE’s income; they will probably be where you, as an expat, will look to practise.

Three different healthboards exist in the UAE, and to work in their emirates you must pass their individual exams:

  1. Dubai Health Authority (DHA) – for Dubai
  2. Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) – for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain
  3. Ministry of Health (MOH) – for the remaining emirates.


In order to obtain a license under the DHA you must first fulfil its eligibility criteria.

This means having a valid registration with the General Dental Council in the UK and a minimum of two years clinical experience here first.

Once you’ve met the criteria you can then initiate the process of obtaining your license. This will start with online registration to the DHA and submitting its required documents.

Once registration is approved and your documents are verified, you can then choose an exam date. Fortunately you can sit this exam in UK test centres. You may have three attempts at the DHA examination and you’ll receive results three days after.

Should you be successful you will receive an eligibility letter from the DHA and you can start job hunting!

Note that this letter is only valid for one-year. We already know Dubai is a popular destination amongst expats. So waste no time in searching for a job as this can often be a lengthy process.


There exist two separate routes of entry for practising in Abu Dhabi.

The first is to directly pass the HAAD examination process. The eligibility criteria and examination process for obtaining your HAAD license is very similar to the processes we had discussed for practising in Dubai. You are just applying to a different board. So fees and the exam may vary slightly.

The second route of entry is to go through Dubai and try to convert your DHA license into a HAAD license. Eligibility for this route depends on current employment under a DHA license. And having worked on that job for at least six months.


Obtaining a license for the remaining emirates follows very similar processes.

You will need to apply to the Ministry Of Health and appear for its examination. However in recent years the government of UAE is trying to make it easier for licenses from DHA and HAAD to be transferred into the other emirates.


In recent years the small island nation of Singapore has seen itself transform into a truly global city. Its government holds a strong reputation for introducing forward-thinking policies and effective implementation.

This, combined with being a former British colony, might be a reason why there are some 50,000 British nationals living there today. But what are your chances of practising there as a dentist?

The Singaporean Dental Council (SDC) currently recognise BDS from all UK dental schools apart from two. The University of Plymouth and University of Central Lancashire don’t appear on that list. So their route of entry will be slightly different from the rest.

Graduates from these dental schools would sit for qualifying examinations before registering with the SDC.

However on its website, one of the criteria for registration states that a foreign degree must appear on its list of accredited institutions (schedule) ‘or any other degree which is, in the opinion of the Council, not lower in standing than a degree specified in the schedule’. So it is worth graduates first contacting the SDC to see if their degree qualifies before enrolling into any examination processes.

SDC registration

Before seeking to get onto the SDC’s register, you need to have a job secured first. In terms of finding jobs, many local dentists seem to say the best way is to search for companies/practices online and send your CV.

Once you have a job secured, either your corporate or practice (who act as your sponsor) will apply for your employment pass and assist you with the application process.

The application process can take around five to six months (generally). It will require you to be present in Singapore to make appearances in person at various government departments.

There are also three registers for the Singaporean Dental Council:

  • Full registration
  • Conditional registration
  • Temporary registration.

As a foreign dentist working in Singapore, you will first place on the conditional register. Under this register the SDC expects you to work under the supervision of two dentists, who have full registration. You will work under their supervision for two to three years. Then you are eligible for full registration and subsequently independent practice yourself.

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