Veterinary medicine is regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Direction Générale de l’Enseignement et de la Recherche (DGER) based in Paris.

The veterinary profession in France started to be regulated in 1881 with the recognition of a Veterinary Diploma exclusively delivered by the Veterinary Schools. The Ordre des Vétérinaires (College of Veterinarians), in Paris, was established by law in 1947. Only veterinarians that are registered with the Ordre des Vétérinaires grants a license to practice as a veterinarian in France, after registration of the individual's veterinary diploma. In addition to the national chamber, there are several regional veterinary chambers in France.

Veterinary Specialist Recognition 

France has a National Council of Veterinary Specialization (CNSV). This has a legal basis in an official order (legal decree) that was published in 2009. The CNSV is a governmental body that includes representatives from the veterinary associations and the veterinary specialists union, academics from the veterinary schools and governmental officers. Nomination of representatives is made by governmental order from the Ministry of Agriculture.

European Veterinary Specialists can apply to the Ordre des Vétérinaires to join the French veterinary specialist register and be authorized to use the title of specialist after their fully-recognised EBVS College has been granted recognition by the CNSV (14 Colleges have been granted this to date). The answer from the Council is “automatic”. EBVS Colleges have now superseded the National specialist training programmes in France. 

Seventeen veterinary specialties through the CNSV since 1992. The Ordre des Vétérinaires lists holders of the now superseded French specialist Diplomas (DESV). The training programmes for National specialists were very similar to those that have been established by EBVS Colleges at European Qualifications Framework level 8. 

Advanced Veterinary Practitioners

France is currently establishing a “middle tier” qualification, between basic clinical level and specialist level. At the present time there is not yet a separate list of these nationally recognised Advanced Practitioners but it is likely that it will be available from the “Ordre des Vétérinaires” in the future.  Advanced Practitioners are not allowed to call themselves specialists.

The procedure for middle tier qualifications is not yet established for all species. For some species (e.g. equine) the validation of acquired experience (VAE) system under academic supervision has been adopted. This aims to ensure that practitioners have sufficient general knowledge and experience in equine clinical sciences to be examined. The first examination is scheduled for the end of 2015.

Continuing education of veterinary general practitioners

Compulsory continuing education requirements are in place for all veterinary surgeons, as mandated by the Ministry of Agriculture and the “Ordre des Vétérinaires”.  The records of attendance to continuing education sessions delivered by Professional Organizations or Veterinary Schools are kept at practitioner level. As it is compulsory, continuing education does not lead to the use of any qualification in France.

Veterinary education 

There are four veterinary schools in France that offer a full veterinary curriculum leading to a veterinary qualification. The Veterinary School VetAgro Sup/Lyon was founded by King Louis the XVth in 1761 and was the first veterinary school in the world. Six years later, in 1767, King Louis the XVth also founded the Veterinary School of Paris/Maisons-Alfort. The Veterinary School of Toulouse INP-ENVT/Toulouse was founded in 1828. The Veterinary School of Nantes ONIRIS/Nantes was founded in 1979. All four veterinary schools have been approved by the European Association of Establishments of Veterinary Education (EAEVE);  VetAgro Sup/Lyon has also been approved by the Council of Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Veterinary qualifications in France all include a mandatory thesis, which has to be completed during the calendar year following graduation as a veterinarian. The title of “Veterinary Doctor” is in common usage in France.  

Membership Organisations

There are several species-oriented membership organisation for veterinarians in France including the Association Française des Vétérinaires pour Animaux de Compagnie or AFVAC for companion animals practitioners, Association Vétérinaire Equine Française or AVEF  for equine practitioners, and the Société Nationale des Groupements Techniques Vétérinaires or SNGTV for livestock practitioners. There is also a membership organisation for veterinary specialists based in France - SFVMCE. The membership organisations do not have any regulatory function.