Foreign doctors who want to work in the UK will be subject to language tests by the General Medical Council (GMC).
Starting in April, the government hopes these changes will “strengthen patient safety” across the UK.
GMC currently ensures non-European doctors can speak a good level of English, but new powers will enable them to test doctors from inside the EU.
Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive said it is a “welcome development”.
He said: “We have been working hard for some time to close this loophole in UK legislation which has caused so much concern to patients and their families and we are delighted that the government has decided to act.”
National GP list
A national list of GPs will be created to prevent doctors who have been rejected in one part of the country practising in another.
From April, language skills will be a requirement for being put on the list.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter told the BBC the measures were about protecting patients, who “should be able to understand and be understood by their doctor if we are to give them the best care they deserve”.
“These new checks will ensure that all doctors who want to work in the NHS can speak proficient English and to prevent those who can’t from treating patients,” he said.