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Frequently asked questions on the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU

An agreement has been reached between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) concerning the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This agreement is expected to be implemented prior to the agreed exit date of 31 January 2020. A transition period, in which existing rules remain the same, is expected to last until 31 December 2020.

The UK and EU intend to negotiate a trade deal to come into effect on 31 December 2020, after the end of the transition period. There continues to be a spectrum of possibilities about what form that future relationship between the UK and the EU will take, and so it is difficult for us to say with any certainty what the arrangements will be, for example, in terms of recognition of professional qualifications and immigration controls. However, we have endeavoured to provide as much clarity as possible in our answers.

Several of these questions refer to the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive. The European Commission explains that “The recognition of professional qualifications laid down in Directive 2005/36/EC enables the free movement of professionals such as doctors or architects within the EU” and these arrangements currently encompass veterinary surgeons, though not veterinary nurses.

Additionally, we have produced a map and list explaining which countries are part of the European Economic Area (EEA).

I am a non-UK EU/EEA citizen who is currently studying for a veterinary degree from a European veterinary school. Will I be able to come and work in the UK?

At this time of uncertainty, it is still difficult to say what the impact of the UK leaving the EU will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa. The details of our future relationship with the EU/EEA will not be finalised until later, during the transition period, which starts on January 31 2020 and is expected to last until 31 December 2020.

If no trade deal has been agreed by 31 December 2020, then the MRPQ Directive may cease to apply. However, if this is the case, an amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act passed in February 2019 means veterinarians will be able to join the Register without sitting the Statutory Membership Examination if their veterinary school is approved or accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) at the time of their graduation. In the longer term, we plan to seek an arrangement that will give us further assurances on standards at European veterinary schools; this could involve different criteria for recognising veterinary degrees.

If you will be qualifying from a non-EAEVE approved or accredited veterinary school, it is important to remember that, if the MRPQ Directive no longer applies, you may also join the Register as an MRCVS by passing the Statutory Membership Examination.

It is also important to remember that any future immigration policy may include restrictions on the number of visas available. The Government has indicated that after Brexit EU citizens may no longer be given priority to live and work in the UK and will be subject to a visa regime. However, the Home Office recently confirmed that veterinary surgeons have been added to its Shortage Occupation List which means that certain barriers to immigration, such as visa requirements, are lowered for professions on the list.

It is worth noting that the RCVS has signed a bilateral mutual recognition agreement with the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) meaning that, whatever happens with the MRPQ Directive, the veterinary degree from University College Dublin is recognised by the RCVS as a registerable qualification. All accredited UK veterinary degrees are likewise recognised by the VCI.

I am a UK citizen who is currently studying for a veterinary degree in the EU/EEA. Will the UK leaving the EU mean I can no longer become an MRCVS upon graduation?

At this time of uncertainty, it is still difficult to say what the impact of the UK leaving the EU will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa. The details of our future relationship with the EU/EEA will not be finalised until later, during the transition period, which starts on January 31 2020 and is expected to last until 31 December 2020.

As a UK citizen you will obviously have the right to live and work in the UK. However, you may or may not have the automatic right to join the Register of Veterinary Surgeons on graduation depending on the status of the MRPQ Directive. If no trade deal has been agreed by 31 December 2020 then the MRPQ Directive may cease to apply but an amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act passed in February 2019 means veterinarians will be able to join the Register without sitting the Statutory Membership Examination if their veterinary school is approved or accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE). In the longer term, we plan to seek an arrangement that will give us further assurances on standards at European veterinary schools; this could involve different criteria for recognising veterinary degrees.

If you are studying at a non-EAEVE approved or accredited veterinary school, it is important to remember that, if the MRPQ Directive no longer applies, you may also join the Register as an MRCVS by passing the Statutory Membership Examination.

It is worth noting that the RCVS has signed a bilateral mutual recognition agreement with the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) meaning that, whatever happens with the MRPQ Directive, the veterinary degree from University College Dublin is recognised by the RCVS as a registerable qualification. All accredited UK veterinary degrees are likewise recognised by the VCI.

I am a non-UK EU/EEA citizen working as a veterinary surgeon in the UK and am worried about the fact that in the future I may no longer be eligible to work in the country. What reassurances can the RCVS give me at this stage?

We recognise, and sympathise with, the anxiety and stress that the confirmation that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 may be causing for non-British EU citizens currently working in the UK and recognise the huge contribution made by European vets to the health and welfare of the UK’s animals and in other areas such as research, academia and public health.

Currently, the UK Government has indicated that if you are an EU citizen, you and your family will be able to apply to get settled or pre-settled status, which will mean you can continue living in the UK after December 2020. The eligibility criteria and further information about this scheme can be viewed here.

Regardless of the post-Brexit immigration regime, non-British EU citizens who are current Members of the RCVS will be able to retain their MRCVS status when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

For non-UK citizens who are not currently on the Register of Veterinary Surgeons, although being on the Register is a prerequisite to working as a veterinary surgeon in the UK, registration does not give the individual an automatic right to work in the UK and this may be dependent on post-Brexit arrangements regarding right to live and work in the UK for non-UK citizens. However, the Home Office recently confirmed that veterinary surgeons have been added to its Shortage Occupation List which means that certain barriers to immigration, such as visa requirements, are lowered for professions on the list.

At this time of uncertainty, it is still difficult to say what the impact of the UK leaving the EU will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa. The details of our future relationship with the EU/EEA will not be finalised until later, during the transition period, which starts on January 31 2020 and is expected to last until 31 December 2020.

I am a non-UK EU/EEA national with a recognised UK veterinary degree but I am not currently working in the UK. Will it be difficult for me if I wish to work in the UK in the future?

At this time of uncertainty it remains difficult for us to say what the long-term impact of the UK leaving the EU will mean for veterinary surgeons who are non-British EU citizens but qualified in the UK. You have a recognised qualification so you will still be able to register with the RCVS. However, while being on the Register is a prerequisite to working as a veterinary surgeon in the UK, registration does not give the individual an automatic right to live and work in the UK, and this may be dependent on post-Brexit arrangements regarding the right to live and to work in the UK for non-UK citizens.

Although future immigration policy has not yet been formally announced, the Government has indicated that after Brexit EU citizens may no longer be given priority to live and work in the UK. It is also important to remember that it may include restrictions on the number of visas available. However, the Home Office recently confirmed that veterinary surgeons have been added to its Shortage Occupation List which means that certain barriers to immigration, such as visa requirements, are lowered for professions on the list.

If you are not yet resident in the UK but wish to work here in the future, you may want to consider an application to join the Register before 31 January 2020. EU citizens who have not been continuously working in the UK for five years by the deadline of 30 June 2021, may be able to apply for pre-settled status, more on which can be found here.

I am a UK citizen who is intending to study for a veterinary degree in Europe. Should I now change my plans?

At this time of uncertainty, it is still difficult to say what the impact of the UK leaving the EU will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa. The details of our future relationship with the EU/EEA will not be finalised until later, during the transition period, which starts on January 31 2020 and is expected to last until 31 December 2020.

As a UK citizen you will have the right to live and work in the UK. However, you may or may not have the automatic right to join the Register on graduation depending on the status of the MRPQ Directive. If no trade deal has been agreed by 31 December 2020 then the MRPQ Directive may cease to apply, but an amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act passed in February 2019 means veterinarians will still be able to join the Register without sitting the Statutory Membership Examination if their veterinary school is approved or accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE). In the longer term, we plan to seek an arrangement that will give us further assurances on standards at European veterinary schools; this could involve different criteria for recognising veterinary degrees.

If you intend to study at a non-EAEVE approved or accredited veterinary school, it is important to remember that, if the MRPQ Directive no longer applies, you may also join the Register as an MRCVS by passing the Statutory Membership Examination.

It is worth noting that the RCVS has signed a bilateral mutual recognition agreement with the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) meaning that, whatever happens with the MRPQ Directive, the veterinary degree from University College Dublin is recognised by the RCVS as a registerable qualification. All accredited UK veterinary degrees are likewise recognised by the VCI.

 

This page was last updated on 8 January 2020