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Working As A Veterinary Surgeon In The United Kingdom

The whole scene can be a bit of a minefield and early contact with the RCVS is by far the best way to start the process. There is otherwise a danger, for example, of people committing themselves to going, say to a practice where they will not be able to do anything in veterinary terms, the only exception being made for those who have already entered for the MRCVS examination and are thus bona fide students, in which case they are permitted to do what other veterinary students may do (in order to learn).

This can mean huge expense, frustration and disappointment at the end of the day. So the moral is 'get it right before you start out'.

Working As A Veterinary Surgeon in the United Kingdom (In outline)

It is against the law to work as a veterinary surgeon in the United Kingdom unless you are already a registered member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Registration is the equivalent of a licence to practise veterinary surgery.

Who is entitled to register?

  1. All graduates from any one of the six university veterinary schools in the UK
  2. Nationals of the European Union who hold veterinary degrees obtained within and recognised by the EU. In the case of degrees from several countries recently admitted to EU membership, there may be some additional requirements during a short transitional period. Also in this group are holders of veterinary degrees from two non- member states, Norway and Switzerland, under separate agreements between those states and the EU. ONLY EU NATIONALS are eligible for registration by this route.
  3. Veterinary graduates from Australia and New Zealand or holders of the degree of BVSc. (Pretoria)
  4. Veterinary graduates from the USA & Canada whose degrees are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  5. ALL OTHERS, even though they may be qualified to practise veterinary surgery in their own countries, will be required to sit and pass the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Membeship examination. This is in effect a final degree examination, both written and practical.

How to register with the RCVS

It is essential to attend, in person, one of the registration sessions held at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). But first...

You should write to the Membership Department of the RCVS , Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF, informing them of your wish to register as a veterinary surgeon in the UK and enclosing copies of:

If the documents appear to be in order, the RCVS will confirm this in writing, inviting you to attend one of the registration meetings to complete the process, or they may ask for further documentation in support of your application. You will be required to present all the documents in the original at the meeting and also to pay the current registration fee, the amount of which will be confirmed in your letter of invitation.

To avoid lengthy delays or disappointment, it can be helpful to contact the membership department at the RCVS directly for advice even before submitting your copy documents to make sure that you are likely to be eligible to register. For full details and contacts see the RCVS website: