The RCVS and the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) have issued a joint statement reaffirming the registration protocol for veterinary surgeons and the continued recognition of each other’s accredited veterinary degrees once the transition period arrangements between the UK and the EU end on 1 January 2021.

To carry out the practice of veterinary medicine, a veterinary practitioner must be registered in the jurisdiction in which they are practising ie a veterinary practitioner who practises veterinary medicine in the Republic of Ireland must be registered with the VCI; likewise, a veterinary surgeon who practises in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales, must be registered with the RCVS.

EU Directive 2005/36EC enables a veterinary surgeon who is lawfully established and registered in an EU member state to provide services on a temporary and occasional basis in another member state. This service allows registered veterinary surgeons to occasionally practise in other countries in the European Union for short periods, up to a maximum of 30 days per year.  

From 1st January 2021, the Directive will no longer apply to veterinary practitioners from the Republic of Ireland who may want to provide veterinary services in the UK and that they would therefore need to be registered with the RCVS even if provision of these services is temporary and occasional.

However, in October 2019 the Presidents of the RCVS and the VCI signed a Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement. The agreement means that the degree in veterinary medicine from University College Dublin can be recognised by the RCVS, and the current eight RCVS-recognised UK veterinary medicine degrees can be recognised by the VCI. The recognised qualifications are accepted as the basis for registration to practise veterinary surgery by the RCVS in the United Kingdom and veterinary medicine by the VCI in the Republic of Ireland.

The VCI and the RCVS emphasised that regardless of whether a trade agreement has been signed between the EU and the UK by 1 January 2021, this will have no bearing on the Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement currently in place.

Niamh Muldoon, CEO and Registrar of the Veterinary Council of Ireland, said: “This historic agreement will enable graduates of Irish and UK veterinary schools to continue to seek to practise in the other country when they wish. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our colleagues in the RCVS in the future for the benefit of the profession in both countries.”

Mandisa Greene, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said: “I am very glad to be able to affirm our continuing working partnership with our friends and colleagues in the Republic of Ireland. We know that veterinary surgeons based both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have clients and undertake work on both sides of the border, and this Mutual Recognition Agreement will help to ensure that UK and Ireland-qualified veterinary surgeons are able to register in each other’s jurisdictions where required. I too look forward to continuing to work closely with the VCI both on a bilateral basis, and via pan-European institutions such as the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe.”

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