How to survive a no deal Brexit: a guide for vets

Posted on February 05, 2019 by Sally Burnell

The news headlines are filled with reports of companies and organisations ramping up their preparations for the UK to leave the EU on 29 March without a deal. The future remains unclear so BVA has developed an 8-point plan of practical steps to help vets prepare themselves and their clients for a no deal Brexit.

Find out about immigration rules

If you are a non-British EEA national or an employer of non-British EEA nationals, read this useful FAQ on immigration and Brexit (70 KB PDF) prepared by immigration law experts Squire Patton Boggs. The Government website also provides useful information. If you have specific queries you can contact the BVA legal helpline for free 24/7. BVA will continue to lobby for immigration rules to meet the needs of the veterinary profession and for vets to be restored to the Shortage Occupation List.

Advise clients to factor in extra time for pet travel prep

In the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK becomes an “unlisted third country” meaning pets would need additional veterinary certification every time they travel. Pets will also require a rabies antibody titration test at least 30 days after vaccination and a waiting period of three months before travel. Pet owners should start planning as early as possible. Vets can send blood samples to one of the EU-approved laboratories: APHA Weybridge and Biobest in Edinburgh. More information is available in this Defra FAQ on rabies serology tests.

Advise horse owners to start planning for equine movements

In the event of a no deal Brexit, the Tripartite Agreement would be revoked, and the UK becomes an “unlisted third country” meaning no horses can enter into the EU until the UK becomes listed which may take several months. Once the UK is listed, horses will need an export health certificate, which might mean additional tests, and will have to pass through a Border Inspection Post approved for equids (for example, Ostend in Belgium is the only seaport accessible from the Channel that is approved for equids).

Vets should be advising owners to factor this into any planning for equine movements.

Talk to your medicines suppliers

Medicines that have previously been authorised for veterinary use in the UK by the European Medicines Agency will remain authorised. For products that are authorised for the UK via the mutual recognition or decentralised procedure, their use in the UK is allowed via a national authorisation.

NOAH and its members have undertaken contingency planning and procurement forecasts to ensure the supply chain is ready to respond. Practices are advised to speak to their own suppliers to ensure any potential supply issues are identified at the earliest opportunity.

Continue to use the cascade and special import certificates

In the event of a no deal, the cascade/special import scheme will need to be revised to reflect that the UK is no longer a Member State, but the VMD has advised that this will not affect a vet’s ability to import human or veterinary medicines from outside of the UK, subject to the usual clinical/cascade need.

Stay up to date on revalidation requirements for veterinary certification

It is estimated that veterinary certification requirements for trade could increase significantly so it is essential that vets are up to date with revalidation requirements. In December 2018 APHA issued a notification of extensions to revalidation deadlines for specific OCQ(V) qualifications. Stay up to date on the requirements and talk to your clients about their anticipated needs in the future.

Keep up to date with surveillance reports via Vet Record

In the event of no deal the UK loses access to the EU disease surveillance system ADNS (the Animal Disease Notification System). However, the UK will maintain access to the OIE World Animal Health Information System and essential surveillance information will continue to be cascaded via Vet Record surveillance reports. This is particularly pertinent for the control of emerging or re-emerging disease conditions, and in the interactions between private vets, government and our laboratory network in contingency planning for epizootic disease outbreaks.

Explore research opportunities internationally

The UK government has committed to guarantee funding for Horizon 2020 projects. Vets involved with collaborative research projects should maintain good communications with EU collaborators and Horizon 2020 National Contact Points (NCPs). Veterinary researchers should also scope other international opportunities and consider drawing on partnering opportunities through the government’s Science and Innovation Network (SIN).

Northern Ireland

Members living and working in Northern Ireland are in a unique position. Through BVA Northern Ireland Branch we have developed a set of specific questions for the Irish Government and we are in contact with the Veterinary Council of Ireland, Veterinary Ireland and DAERA. We will be updating members as we receive further information.

More information

We have also prepared a more detailed briefing on what a no deal Brexit would mean (459 KB PDF) for the veterinary profession. As always, members can contact us with any questions on or 020 7908 6370.

Sally Burnell

Written by Sally Burnell

BVA Director of Policy, Media and Strategy

Sally joined BVA in 2009 as head of media with a background in charity communications and politics, having worked in Westminster, the Welsh Assembly, and in local government. Sally became Director of Policy, Media and Strategy in 2014 and works with the team to make sure BVA is a strong voice for vets.