5 tips for moving to and working in the UK

UK London red bus

Andreia Dias is a vet from Portugal who moved to the UK in 2014. She set up UK VetMove to provide services and products dedicated to helping overseas vets integrate and thrive in the UK veterinary market. 

Are you an overseas vet who is thinking about coming to work in the UK? Unsure on the requirements for registration to practice as a vet, applying for jobs or sorting your finances? Although there can be various challenges and obstacles to moving and practising as a vet in the UK, this article aims to shed some light on what you need to consider before and after your move, in order to make the transition and experience as smooth as possible.

Tip 1: Register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)

The RCVS is the regulatory body of the veterinary profession in the UK. If you wish to practise as a veterinary surgeon in the UK, you need to register to do so. Only veterinary surgeons registered with the RCVS can practise veterinary medicine in the UK.

Registration information is available here and usually requires proof of your degree, your personal details and a letter of good standing. If your qualification is not recognised by the RCVS, in order to register you must sit and pass the RCVS Statutory Examination for Membership.

You must also meet the RCVS English language competence requirements before applying to sit the examinations. English testing is not mandatory to register with the RCVS, but if you are a vet who needs to sit the Statutory Examination, you will need to provide evidence of your English language skills. There are two assessment options – International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Occupational English Test (OET). Healthcare professionals tend to choose OET, meaning this assessment format is more suited to vets.   

For European vets, it’s difficult to say how Brexit may impact the registration process. The RCVS has provided some information on the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU here.

Tip 2: Apply for jobs the right way

There are several ways you can apply for jobs – online platforms such as VetRecord Careers and UK VetMove, using recruitment agencies or even calling local practices directly to enquire about vacancies.


"Only veterinary surgeons registered with the RCVS can practise veterinary medicine in the UK"


You will need a CV and cover letter to apply for jobs. You can find a number of practical resources and articles here that offer helpful tips and guidance on preparing a CV, writing a veterinary cover letter and also interview tips.

Tip 3: Getting a National Insurance (NI) number

You’ve found a job? Congratulations! Now you must start paying taxes, which you can do by applying for a National Insurance number. With a NI number, relevant taxes will be automatically deducted from your salary if you are employed directly, meaning you don’t have to worry about this yourself. You can start work before your National Insurance Number arrives, but make sure you apply for one as soon as you can.

If you are considering locum work, you must take care of your own taxes and NI contributions through Self-Assessment. It is recommended that you take some time to research this. More information can be found on the gov.uk website.

Managing UK finances

Getting a NI number is a fairly straight-forward process, but it does require a UK address, so you may have to wait for this until you have found a place to live, which leads us nicely onto…

Tip 4: …finding somewhere to live

Depending on where you want to live and work in the UK, there are a number of resources available to help you find somewhere to stay. These include:

Keep in mind that although it is not a legal requirement, you should definitely check out any rooms, flats or houses you want to rent before you sign any contract and exchange any money.

Tip 5: Organise your finances

If you’re financing your initial move in currency other than sterling, you will probably want to convert your money in to Pound sterling. There are several online tools such as Transferwise and Revolut that allow you to transfer money without expensive fees.


"The UK is full of many opportunities, especially within the veterinary profession"


Once you have moved to the UK, you will probably want to open a UK back account. Most banks will ask you for a proof of address, which you can prove through bills or even a job contract. As a temporary option, you may want to consider opening an online bank account through Transferwise or Revolut, which would also provide you with a debit card.  

With this information, you will be in a strong position to begin your move and settle down quickly in the UK. The UK is full of many opportunities, especially within the veterinary profession. Good luck!

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