Is your qualification eligible for registration with the South African Veterinary Council?

Do you want to become a veterinarian or para-veterinary professional? Only specific qualifications will allow you to register legally in SA.

Do you dream of working with animals? Is your heart set on becoming a veterinarian, veterinary nurse, animal health technician, veterinary physiotherapist, veterinary technologist, or laboratory animal technologist? Or are you already a professional looking to further your studies?

Whether you’re wanting to apply for undergraduate studies to become a veterinary or para-veterinary professional, or you’re already a qualified veterinarian and wish to specialise, always ensure that the qualification that you’re applying for is eligible for registration with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) so that you can legally practise in South Africa.

There are a number of international universities offering online degrees in the veterinary or para-veterinary professions, sometimes even at master’s or PhD level. While some of these are reputable qualifications, obtaining them will generally not allow you to practise in South Africa or be recognised for purposes of specialisation in a particular discipline.


Studying abroad will also not necessarily allow veterinarians to practise in South Africa, unless there’s a mutual recognition agreement in place between the veterinary council in the country where you studied and the SAVC. Even so, there are only specific institutions and veterinary qualifications that qualify – para-veterinary qualifications don’t qualify. If you don’t have one of these qualifications, but hold another foreign qualification, you’ll be required to write, and pass, the SAVC registration examination – irrespective of whether you’re a South African or foreign national.

There are currently a number of South African veterinary graduates who’ve studied abroad who expected automatic registration to practise in South Africa, but who are now faced with having to take the registration examination, their patrons having neglected to inform them that they won’t be allowed to practise automatically in South Africa by virtue of being a South African citizen.

It’s therefore of vital importance to do your homework ahead of applying for any qualification in the veterinary or para-veterinary professions, to ensure that it’s eligible for registration with the SAVC or, at the very least, that you’ll be eligible to write the SAVC registration examination.

Your first port of call is the SAVC website; under the Professions tab there’s a link to student information under each profession, where you can find SAVC-accredited qualifications (full list provided below). Information about the registration examination can also be found on the website.


It’s best to contact the SAVC if you have any queries about qualifications before you start any studies. It’s also important to establish that you’re embarking on your studies at a reputable training institution. In South Africa, all tertiary training institutions have to be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

You can also get information from the training institutions, the DHET, the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) or the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).

In relation to online courses, you’ll need to find out where the practical training will take place. You can’t enrol for an international online course and then do the practical training in South Africa, as this will be a contravention of the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act (No. 19 of 1982).


The SAVC ensures that the veterinary and para-veterinary professions in South Africa are aligned to international standards.

The SAVC is part of the International Accreditors Working Group, together with the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the American Veterinary Medicines Association (AVMA), and the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE).

Through mutual recognition agreements that the SAVC holds with counterparts in the United Kingdom (with the RCVS) and Australia and New Zealand (with the AVBC), veterinary professionals with qualifications from some of the training institutions in these regions can register in South Africa without having to sit the registration examination.

The SAVC monitors institutions and qualifications to ensure the standards of training, which involves monitoring of the individual subjects as well as through regular visits to the training institution. The basis for the mutual recognition agreements is regular visitations to each other’s institutions to monitor the agreed upon training standards.

For more information, please contact: Leonie Westcott, Director of Education at the SAVC: |Mpho Mojanaga, Director of Registrations at the SAVC: |Dinamarie Stoltz, Director of Legal Affairs at the SAVC: 

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