Alright, so at this time the UK should be out of the EU if things had gone according to plan. Things didn’t go according to plan. There are lots of debates in the UK because no one seems to agree with “the plan”. We are still waiting for the political game to settle.

Clearly, the UK has not left the EU when it should have (29 May 2019). At that time, the “deal” that establishes the terms on which the UK and Europe will operate once the UK is not part of the EU had been rejected by the UK political force.

So the UK politicians now have to decide on what to do by April 12 2019. The EU has given the UK a few options:

  1. Accept the deal that has already been rejected 3 times
  2. Leave without a deal
  3. Delay leaving the UK (long enough that the UK has to participate in European Elections again…)
  4. Quit Brexit

By then, the UK will have to have made a decision. So until then, we’re at the cliff-edge again!

If the deal is accepted, then the expected date for the UK to leave the EU is May 22 2019. And then there will be a transition period until December 2020 where many aspects of the European Membership are still “allowed” (so you would be able to travel with your European passport as free movement is still in place). This “transition period” may also be extended for another 2 years.

The biggest concern though is for the UK to leave without a deal. A “no deal” scenario means that there are no arrangements about what the relations between the UK and other European countries could look like. This means that for those of us in other EU countries, the UK may no longer be easily accessible – border control may be in place, immigration laws may limit your move to the country and the recognition of your veterinary degree may change. A “no deal” Brexit will have a much heavier impact on the UK population that on the EU population, but it may make you think twice about moving to the UK vs. choosing another EU country. This will have a significant impact in the British veterinary workforce, which already struggles to have enough vets.


Impact of Brexit on the veterinary profession

If you are a citizen of a non-EU member country, then not much will change for you – you still need to sit and pass the RCVS Examination in order to become eligible to practice as a veterinary surgeon.

If you have graduated in another EU country, then you now need to find out if your university is an accredited body by the EAEVE (European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education) – only degrees from accredited universities will be directly recognised, allowing you to join the RCVS without sitting the examination.

You will also need proof of language skills. The RCVS asked for IELTS scores of 7.0, however they are considering introducing the OET (Occupational English Test). This is a test commonly used in healthcare, though not much is available on veterinary settings (at least yet).


When looking at the profession in the UK, there is much speculation about what may take place. Clinical areas often struggle with recruitment. There is the possibility of these getting a bit worse without the input of overseas vets. However, the public health sector is where the biggest worry is – as in some areas of the country, up to 95% of the veterinary workforce is actually overseas and mostly European.

This, of course, has the other side of the coin – for those interested in the area, access and progression may be easier.


What if I already live in the UK and am registered with the RCVS?

Nothing will change to your RCVS membership  if you are already registered with them to practise as a veterinary surgeon.

But what happens if you already live and work in the UK?…

The government has set up a Settlement Scheme to allow EU citizens to retain the right to live and work in the UK after 2021. The Scheme is available until the end of June 2021. This is for a deal situation. In a “no deal” situation, you would have had to be living in the UK by April 2019 to be able to apply.

The scheme is free to join and you can read more information about it here.


Other options

Living in the UK is not the only way for you to be able to work in the UK. Although there are more complicated options, they are still other viable options.

One of those options is to live in another country and travel to the UK to work. This is what I currently do. I own a UK-based limited company which employs me. I travel to the UK on a monthly basis to carry out services provided by my company. This is something that locums can do and all we will need to worry about will be the need to get travelling visas if it comes to that. The plan right now is that in case of a no deal scenario, EU citizens will be able to travel to the UK without a visa for less than 3 months. That is more than enough for most of us, since we end up spending less than 3 months in a row working as locums.

And yes, you can set up a UK company without actually living in the UK!

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