Do not neglect the ARF

Neglecting to pay the GDC Annual Retention Fee (ARF) may seem a minor oversight but the consequences can be extremely inconvenient and costly.

Come January of every year the MDDUS receives a number of calls from frantic dental members who have received letters from the General Dental Council informing them that they have been erased from the dental register for neglecting to pay their Annual Retention Fee (ARF) which is due on or before 31 December of each year. It may seem a minor oversight but the consequences of missing the payment can be extremely inconvenient and costly.

The ARF is the fee all dentists and dental care professionals (DCPs) must pay each year to remain on the Dentists Register or DCP Register. The fees for 2008 were agreed at a meeting of the GDC this month and wil be published on GDC website.

It is your responsibility to pay the ARF on time. If prompt payment is not made, your name will be erased from the Register. Notice of your erasure will be circulated to Primary Care Trusts, Health Boards and protection societies throughout the UK.

To resume practise, you must:

  • apply to restore your name to the Dentists Register or the DCP Register and supply a health declaration which must be signed by a doctor, and a character declaration which must be signed by a professional who knows you
  • provide a letter of good standing from the dental authority of the country you are working in, if outside the UK
  • pay the original retention fee plus a restoration fee £105 if you are a dentist and £18 if you are a dental care professional.

It is illegal for an unregistered person to practise dentistry, and you must cease practise until your name has been restored to the Registers. Note also that as GDC registration is a requirement for MDDUS membership, the Union has no option but to suspend membership and therefore entitlement to indemnity to anyone who has been removed from the Registers. Membership will be reinstated immediately upon restoration.

The ARF can be paid by direct debit, debit or credit card, cheque, banker's draft or United Kingdom postal orders. Payment must be in pound sterling.

To pay by direct debit you will need to complete a direct debit mandate form which can be downloaded from the GDC website. The GDC must receive your mandate form by 31 October of the year prior to the year you are paying for. The ARF will be deducted from your UK bank account in late November/early December each year and will be taken as one sum. Please remember to let the GDC know promptly if you change any of your bank details. If you forget to do this, your payment may not be received and there could be a problem with your continued practice.

The GDC should send your practising certificate to your registered address within four to five weeks of receiving your fee. If you have requested changes to your registered details, it may take a little longer. Make sure to chase up the certificate if it has not arrived.

ACTION: Ensure that your ARF is paid well in advance of the 31 December deadline. Inform the GDC promptly of any changes to your registered details, including a change of address and, if you pay the annual retention fee by Direct Debit, your bank details. Keeping the GDC up to date is vital for many reasons including fee reminder letters.