Variations in the approach to certification - Veterinary Practice
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Variations in the approach to certification

Dear Sir,

Signing and stamping of official veterinary certification

Official veterinary certification is not only a written statement of fact made with the authority of a veterinary surgeon, but also a means of communication between government veterinary authorities, in accordance with international agreements. This facilitates trade with ultimate benefits for UK citizens and industries that need to move animals and animal products around the world.

We have recently become aware of differences in the interpretation of the 12 principles of certification (set out in an annex to the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct). This has resulted in variations in the approach to certification and variations in the appearance of completed certificates. For example, some veterinary surgeons will apply OV stamps liberally, others sparingly. In some quarters, this variation has started to undermine confidence in British export certificates. Therefore, in addition to the principles of certification and the 12th principle in particular, DEFRA and the RCVS wish to offer the following guidance to veterinary surgeons who complete official veterinary certification: Principle 12 of the 12 Principles of Certification

When signing a certificate, a veterinarian should ensure that:

a. he signs, stamps and completes any manuscript portions in a colour of ink which does not readily photocopy, i.e. a colour other than black;

b. the certificate contains no deletions or alterations, other than those which are indicated on the face of the certificate to be permissible, and subject to such changes being initialled and stamped by the certifying veterinarian;

c. the certificate bears not only his signature but also, in clear lettering, his name, qualifications and address and (where appropriate) his official or practice stamps;

d. the certificate bears the date on which the certificate was signed and issued and (where appropriate) the time for which the certificate will remain valid;

e. no portion of the certificate is left blank, so that it could subsequently be completed by some person other than the certifying veterinarian. The following confirms how this should be applied when completing official veterinary certification on behalf of DEFRA: 1. Any stamps, signatures or initials must be applied carefully and placed so that text in the certificate is not obscured, preferably in the margin.

2. Manuscript entries on the certificate must be legible, preferably typewritten or handwritten in block capitals.

3. Manuscript entries on the certificate, the signature and stamp must be made in a colour other than black, unless directed otherwise by instructions on the certificate or in accompanying notes for guidance.

4. Manuscript entries on the certificate should not be stamped or initialled unless this is specifically requested by instructions on the certificate or in accompanying notes for guidance.

Alteration of manuscript entries must be avoided, but on the rare occasion that this is not possible, the alteration must be stamped and initialled.

5. Deletions of non-applicable pre-printed options or alternatives should be made before signing the certificate.

Alteration or deletion of other pre-printed text must only be carried out in accordance with an official derogation or instructions on the certificate or in accompanying notes for guidance; such alterations or deletions must be stamped and initialled.

6. No part of the certificate should be left blank such that it could subsequently be completed by somebody other than the certifying veterinarian. Such spaces should be ruled off, but only stamped and dated after the last line of a separate schedule. Schedules may be “fan folded” and stamped and dated.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Gibbens, BVetMed, MSc, MRCVS, Chief Veterinary Officer, DEFRA, Area 5E, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.

Jill Nute, BVSc, MRCVS, President, RCVS, Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF.

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