Guidance

The veterinary sector and preparing for EU Exit

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there may be changes that affect private, official or abattoir veterinarians.

Importing and exporting

There are some actions you’ll need to take if you certify animals, germplasm or animal products for import or export between the UK and EU.

Exporting animals, germplasm, animal products, fish and fishery products

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the way animals, animal products, fish, shellfish, crustaceans and fishery products are moved to the EU will change. If you’re a private or an official veterinarian (OV), you’ll need to be aware of these changes.

Exporters will need to apply for an export health certificate (EHC) in advance of moving consignments to the EU. If you’re an OV, you’ll need to authorise the EHC following an inspection of the consignment.

Read the guidance on exporting animals, animal products, fish and fishery products to the EU after EU Exit.

Exporting equines

For equine owners, you may also need to supply the correct identification documents for their equine in addition to an EHC for each journey.

If the UK becomes a listed non-EU (third) country, you’ll need to carry out additional blood tests to prove the equine is free of certain diseases. The equine owner will need to contact you at least 6 weeks before travelling to allow time for these additional checks. These tests will only be valid if completed within a specific time period before travel.

The UK will no longer be part of the Tripartite Agreement. All equines travelling to the EU will have to follow the same process regardless of which EU country they are travelling to.

Read the guidance on export horses and ponies: special rules.

EHC training

These changes are likely to increase the demand for EHC applications. To help OVs with this increase, a Certification Support Officer (CSO) role has been created and training is now available in England, Scotland and Wales. You can register for the training on the Improve International website.

New import notification system

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no additional checks at the UK borders on animal imports that originated in the EU. However, the way animal and animal products importers tell the UK authorities of these imports will change.

They’ll no longer use the EU’s import system Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) for importing into the UK. The new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) system will replace this.

Read the guidance on importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin after EU Exit.

Changes to pet travel

The rules for taking pets to any EU country will change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and is treated as an unlisted country.

If you’re a private vet or an OV, you’ll need to advise pet owners on what steps they can take to prepare for all scenarios.

Pet owners will need to contact you at least 4 months in advance of travelling to allow time for additional health preparations.

Read the guidance on Pet Travel to Europe after Brexit.

You can find the latest advice for OVs on the APHA Vet Gateway when it becomes available.

Veterinary medicines

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the new UK veterinary medicine regulation will make sure you continue to have access to safe and effective veterinary medicines.

All registered veterinary medicines in the UK will continue to be registered after EU Exit.

For veterinarians, there will be changes to the following processes:

Visit the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)’s EU Exit hub for detailed guidance on what’s changing.

Your employees

There are certain schemes and processes you should be aware of if you employ people.

Right to work checks

Until January 2021 you should continue the same right to work checks on all EU/EEA and Swiss citizens, by using their passport or national identity card.

You will not need to distinguish between EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK before or after the UK leaves the EU.

Find out how to check an applicant’s right to work and read the guidance on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after Brexit.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who are resident in the UK before the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get settled or pre-settled status. This will mean they can continue to live, work and study in the UK.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens must apply by 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You can use the EU Settlement Scheme guidance for employers to give further information to your employees.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who arrive in the UK after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK from exit day to 31 December 2020 can continue to come to the UK, to live, work and study without applying for a visa in advance.

After free movement ends, if they want to stay for longer than 3 months, they can read the guidance on staying in the UK to find out what they’ll need to do.

Irish citizens can continue to live, work and study in the UK, just as before.

From 1 January 2021, a new skills-based immigration system will launch.

For non-EU nationals, EU Exit will not affect the application process for work visas.

Veterinary qualifications

If you’re an EU and EEA national currently registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), you’ll continue to have your registration recognised.

After the UK leaves the EU, RCVS will make sure all veterinary qualifications meet their required equivalent standards. This will apply to all new registrants after we leave the EU.

The majority of EU/EEA vet degrees already meet these standards. You can contact the RCVS to check if your degree is recognised.

Data protection

Your veterinary business will need to make sure it follows data protection law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

If you operate across the EU or exchange personal data with organisations in the EEA, there may be changes that you need to make before the UK leaves the EU.

Read the 6 step process and the data protection guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You can also check if you can use standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for transfers from the EEA to the UK.

More information

Visit Prepare your business for EU Exit to find more guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector and sign up for updates.

Published 7 March 2019
Last updated 24 June 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updates to the 'Your employees' section
  2. First published.