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

There continue to be a spectrum of possibilities about what form the 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 this includes veterinary surgeons.

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

I am a non-British 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 EU Referendum will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa depending on if we leave with a deal or not. It may be that that some details will not be finalised until later, during the 21-month transition period which starts from 31 October 2019 if the UK exits the EU with a deal.

In the case of a ‘No-Deal Brexit’ the 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 with EAEVE 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.

I am a UK citizen who is currently studying for a veterinary degree in the EU/EEA. Will the EU Referendum outcome 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 EU Referendum will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa depending on if we leave with a deal or not. It may be that that some details will not be finalised until later, during the 21-month transition period which starts from 31 October 2019 if the UK exits the EU with a deal.

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 on graduation depending on the status of the MRPQ Directive. In the case of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit the 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 with EAEVE 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.

I am a non-British 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 result of the EU Referendum 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 current non-members, 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.

At this time of uncertainty, it is still difficult to say what the impact of the EU Referendum will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa depending on if we leave with a deal or not. It may be that that some details will not be finalised until later, during the 21-month transition period which starts from 31 October 2019 if the UK exits the EU with a deal.

I am a non-British 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 result of the EU Referendum 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. 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 October 2019. 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.

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 EU Referendum will be on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive that allows European vets to practise in the UK and vice-versa depending on if we leave with a deal or not. It may be that that some details will not be finalised until later, during the 21-month transition period which starts from 31 October 2019 if the UK exits the EU with a deal.

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 on graduation depending on the status of the MRPQ Directive. In the case of a no-deal Brexit the 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 with EAEVE 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.

 

This page was last updated on 9 September 2019