Should The UK Introduce a Language Test for Foreign Vets?

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is now encouraging vets and vet nurses to respond to Government planning to introduce English language testing for vets qualified from elsewhere in the EU instead of the UK. The tests would model those used currently for foreign doctors and nurses, and would be permitted if the RCVS had serious doubts about the applicant’s language ability.

With an estimated 50% of new vet registration applications coming from people qualified from outside the UK, the law change would allow greater control on the quality of care vets practicing in the UK can give to our animals. Currently, the RCVS confirm that they are obliged to allow anyone from the EU with a valid qualification to register to practice in the UK, regardless of their ability to speak English.

Concerns have been raised more recently that this lack of language could put pets in danger as vets struggle to translate the medicine they are prescribing or the labels on drugs, potentially leading to overdoses or the wrong medication being taken. Consulting with a veterinarian when there is a language barrier puts unnecessary stress on both the vet and the pet owner, and can lead to easily avoidable mistakes with a lack of checks and a system in place to ensure a good level of language skills are obtained before the vet can legally practice.

More worryingly, the current registration system for vets and vet nurses mean that if language issues are recognised, there is no process in place to address this issue and help the applicant improve their English skills – rather, they are simply placed on the register as qualified to practice.

The RCVS are therefore encouraging all those in the pet-care industry to engage with the new government plans, allowing the associations greater control over who is placed on the register and a legal way of testing the language skills of vets entitled to practice in the UK before they are registered officially.


Here at Jaycliffe Pets Kennels & Cattery, we’re dedicated to providing the best quality of care to your pets during their stay with us. Our staff are expertly trained to ensure you pet is comfortable and happy, and are trained to recognise any signs of illness or discomfort as soon as possible.

Contact us today to find out more about the services we offer, or to discuss booking your pet in to stay with us. Our friendly team will be more than happy to help with any of your enquiries.