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Vetting is a process of examination and evaluation, generally referring to performing a background check on someone before offering him or her employment, conferring an award, etc. In addition, in intelligence gathering, assets are vetted to determine their usefulness.



To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning "to check."

It is a figurative contraction of veterinarian which originated in the mid-17th century. The colloquial abbreviation dates to the 1860s; the verb form of the word, meaning "to treat an animal," came a few decades later—according to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest known usage is 1891—and was applied primarily in a horse-racing context. ("He vetted the stallion before the race," "You should vet that horse before he races," etc.) By the early 1900s, vet had begun to be used as a synonym for evaluate, especially in the context of searching for flaws. [1]

Political selection

Politicians are often thoroughly vetted. For example, in the United States, a party's presidential nominee must choose a vice-presidential candidate to accompany him or her on the ticket. Prospective vice-presidential candidates must undergo thorough evaluation by a team of advisers acting on behalf of the nominee.[2] In later stages of the vetting process, the team will examine such items as a prospective vice-presidential candidate's finances, personal conduct, and previous coverage in the media.[2]


In the journalism field, newspaper, periodical, and television news articles or stories may be vetted by fact-checkers, whose job it is to check whether factual assertions made in news copy are correct. However, fact-checking is a time-consuming and costly process, so stories in daily publications are typically not fact-checked. Reporters are expected to check their own facts, sometimes with the aid of an in-house reference library. Information which is verified by two independent sources is commonly stated as fact.

In book publishing, the duty of fact-checking commonly falls to copy editors.

Even when published or televised material is not specifically fact-checked, it is often vetted by a company's legal department to avoid committing slander or libel.


Vetting is also a reference to software development. The process of vetting code refers to ensuring a build of software meets a set of requirements before the build is passed to the quality control environment for further testing.


Vetting can refer to the process of analyzing stocks, bonds, and any other securities and financial instruments before committing money.


Ship / Vessel Vetting is the process by which a charterer determines whether a vessel is suitable to be chartered, based on the information available to it. Ports, terminals, insurers and other maritime industry operators also vet ships to identify and manage risks, and many shipowners and ship managers use ship vetting services to monitor information about their own vessels.

Unlike Certification or Classification, vetting is a private, voluntary system operators may choose to use to help them choose a particular vessel among all of the certified vessels available, and to manage their risks.

Vetting in its current form first appeared in 1993, when the Ship Inspection Report (SIRE) database was created for use by oil companies.

For each voyage, the vetting department assesses the vessel to be used, relying in particular on inspection results. The results of inspections carried out by oil companies who are members of the OCIMF are shared via the joint SIRE database.

Oil majors perform inspections according to a standard report format developed by the OCIMF. These reports are available to all OCIMF members via the SIRE database, which provides each company’s vetting department with the information it needs to apply its own internal criteria without having to inspect each vessel itself.

Tanker vetting inspections are usually carried out during commercial unloading operations, with the prior agreement of the shipowner and management company, the only organizations authorized to allow third parties onboard.

Vetting inspections do not include a survey of the vessel’s structural elements, which is the responsibility of the classification society and the shipowner as part of the vessel’s regular maintenance and of the process of ensuring that it complies with applicable rules and regulations. In any case, it would be technically impossible for a vetting department to carry out such a structural survey.

Vetting inspections also give the company access to confidential documents relating to the vessel’s maintenance and classification, which can only be consulted by third parties onboard.

Dry bulk and container ships can also be vetted. Systems for dry vetting were developed after SIRE had proved valuable for oil industry standards, and in recognition that substandard ships remained a major risk for the shipping industry. Vetting for dry vessels is less regulated than in the oil industry, remains less structured and is not universally used, although acceptance has grown significantly especially through the growth of accessible online vetting services including equasis and RightShip.

Dry bulk and container vetting can also incorporate vessel inspections, along similar lines to the oil industry processes described above, although systems for inspection requests, reports and the sharing of reports are again much less standardized.

See also

  • Security clearance
  • Law enforcement jargon
  • Online vetting


  1. Juliet Lapidos, Vetting Vet The origins of vet, verb tr.. http://www.slate.com/id/2199254/ (September 3, 2008).
  2. 2.0 2.1 See, e.g., Ben Smith, Richardson Defense Raises Questions, Politico, March 8, 2007


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