Brexit and implications for the recognition of professional qualifications in Finland

February 21/2019

The United Kingdom (UK, hereafter also Britain) has on 29 March 2017 submitted its formal withdrawal notification in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. This means that unless a separate agreement on the withdrawal is reached before 30 March 2019 or unless the date of exit from the EU is postponed, EU primary and secondary legislation shall not be applied with regard to the UK as from 30 March 2019 (00:00 CET). The same applies to the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications (2005/36/EC), on the basis of which a degree in veterinary medicine may be recognized in another EU/EEC country.

The Finnish Food Authority generally recommends that veterinarians who have received or are about to receive their degree in the UK and who wish to have access to and pursue their profession in Finland to apply for licensing no later than 29 March 2019. You can submit your application at the registration office of the Finnish Food Authority (kirjaamo@ruokavirasto.fi) and supplement your application later when necessary. More detailed information the implications of Brexit on the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in the UK can be found under the following frequently asked questions:

I am a Finnish citizen. I have received my degree in veterinary medicine in the UK and I have been licensed in the UK prior to 30 March 2019. Can I have my degree automatically recognized in Finland? 

The Finnish Food Authority recommends that you apply for licensing before 30 March 2019. However, if you are a Finnish citizen or citizen of an EU/EEC member state other than Britain, even after 30 March 2019 you can be licensed in Finland without additional requirements provided that you have commenced and completed your veterinary degree in full before 30 March 2019. The Finnish Food Authority states that the crucial factor is the status of the country where the degree was obtained at the time when the professional qualification was obtained. If you commenced and completed your degree before 30 March 2019 the degree was obtained when the UK still was an EU member state and you can still benefit from the automatic recognition of your degree regardless of when you apply for licensing.

I am a British citizen. I have received my veterinary degree in the UK and I have been licensed in the UK before 30 March 2019. Can I have my degree automatically recognized in Finland if I apply for licensing before 30 March 2019? What if I apply for licensing in Finland after 30 March 2019?

An application for recognition filed no later than 29 March 2019

If you are a British citizen, at the time of filing your application you are still an EU citizen. Since your veterinary degree too was completed in full while the UK still was an EU member state, you can still have your degree automatically recognized without any additional studies or language requirements.

An application for recognition filed 30 March 2019 or later

The automatic recognition of a professional qualification in another EU country such as Finland only applies to degrees obtained in another EU/EEC member state while that country was a member state. Moreover, the automatic recognition of a professional qualification as a rule only concerns citizens of an EU member state.

Even if your degree was obtained in full while the UK still was an EU member state, as applicant you are no longer regarded as an EU citizen nor can you, as a rule, any longer benefit from the automatic recognition of your professional qualification. A few exceptions to this rule have been provided for. If you are a long-term resident of Finland, you may on account of your long-term residence benefit from automatic recognition.

I am about to obtain my veterinary degree in the UK and I will receive my diploma after 30 March 2019. Can I have my degree automatically recognized in Finland without being required to undertake additional studies?

If the UK’s exit from the EU takes place on 29 March 2019, the country is no longer an EU member state but a so-called third country. This means that after 30 March 2019 those who obtain a degree in veterinary medicine in the UK can no longer benefit from automatic recognition in Finland. Instead, a degree in veterinary medicine obtained in the UK will after 30 March 2019 will be regarded as if it were obtained in a so-called third country.