Vet with dog and its owner

All vets in the UK need to be registered to see your pet.

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How to find out if a vet is licensed

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

To be a vet in the UK or Ireland, a vet needs to have undergone lots of training and be registered. But if you're not sure about a vet's background, there are ways to find out.

Vets not only undergo extensive training to become a vet, but they continue training throughout their career, giving them various licences.

But what licence does your vet have? And is the medication that they're prescribing licensed? This article will explain all of this and more to you.

What licences do veterinarians need?

In order to practise in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, vets must be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). To register, they must have completed training and education that meets the standard set by the RCVS. They must also complete and log a certain amount of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training every year to stay registered.

If a vet is claiming to be a specialist, they must also be able to prove they have undertaken additional training and CPD, which gives them specialist status. If you are in doubt, you should contact the RCVS.

Vets performing additional tasks on behalf of the government, such as issuing Pet Passport travel documents, are required to have additional licences after undertaking the correct training. These licences often have to be renewed following refresher training courses every few years.

How to check if an animal medicine is licensed

You can check with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on the website to check if an animal medicine is licensed for use in the UK. Vets are permitted to use treatments that are not authorised for use in a particular way or for a particular species under the prescribing cascade. Where a medicine is used ‘off-licence’ in this way, your vet should obtain your informed consent prior to using it.

Who regulates veterinarians in the UK? 

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the professional regulator for veterinarians and registered veterinary nurses in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

How to check if a vet is registered

The RCVS have a ‘Find a Vet’ database on their website (, so you can check if a vet is registered and legally allowed to treat your pet. Remember, they may be registered under a different professional surname if they are married. If you are in doubt, you can call the RCVS to request more information about a vet or practice.

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