Please note that all passport issuing organisations (PIOs) are obliged to report to the enforcement authority any instances where the specified timescales in relation to the legal responsibilities noted below are breached, where the passport has been tampered with or if there are other indications of attempted fraud.
It is a legal requirement for all horses and ponies to be issued with a passport. Horse Passport law is governed by the EU Commission Regulation EU 2015/262.
Equine passports are required throughout the EU for identification, effective disease control and in order to protect the human food chain.
Owners and keepers with primary responsibility must ensure their horses are correctly identified and be able to produce the passport without delay when required. All horses, ponies, donkeys and other equidae are required to have a passport from 6 months of age, or by 31st December in the year of their birth, whichever is the later.
A horse’s passport must be kept with it at all times. This includes any time the horse leaves the yard, such as to go to a show, on loan or away for schooling. It is illegal to travel a horse without their passport, unless they are being transported for emergency veterinary treatment. The passport must be produced within three hours of it being requested by enforcement agencies. The passport may be requested at any time but the most common situations where a horse’s passport will be requested include:
The passport must accompany the horse at all times, except when it is :
Vets will require the passport when prescribing many common veterinary medicines, (for example “Bute”) and will update the passport to ensure the horse in question is then permanently excluded from the human food chain.
The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) is responsible for enforcing the checks carried out at slaughterhouses, and Local Authorities (Trading Standards Departments) are responsible for enforcing the law elsewhere. As with all government legislation, there are penalties that may be applied by the courts for non-compliance. Most offences have a fine of up to £5,000, two years’ imprisonment or both.
Applications for equine passports can only be accepted for micro-chipped animals and the owner or keeper must ensure that the equine does not already have an existing passport. When the passport is received, it should be carefully checked to ensure all the details are correct, and then signed where required on the owner’s page.
No animal may have more than one passport. Passports are the property of the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) and the passport must be returned to the issuing PIO:
Changes to the Food Chain Status.
If the food chain status of an animal is changed, either voluntarily by the owner or by by a vet who has administered a medicinal product that is not permitted in a food producing animal. the issuing PIO must be informed within 14 days of the change being made.
Passports may still be acquired for horses older than the passport deadline, provided there is no existing passport for the animal. Applications should be made to the appropriate PIO for the breed of the horse and should include appropriate checks and fees. Before the passport is issued to the owner, the issuing PIO will update the passport to permanently exclude the horse from the human food chain.
If the passport is lost, a duplicate may be requested from the original PIO. On receipt of appropriate fees and checks, a duplicate passport may be issued, in which case the passport will be updated by the PIO to permanently exclude the animal from the human food chain. The duplicate passport will be stamped as a duplicate, and should the original passport ever be found, it must be returned to the issuing PIO immediately.
Transfers of Ownership
The horse passport does not constitute proof of ownership of the horse. However, it is a requirement under the horse passport legislation that any change of is registered with the relevant PIO within 30 days of acquiring a horse. The issuing PIO may require a completed transfer form and fees.
It is an offence to sell a horse without a passport. Sale of any horse should not be completed if the passport has not been provided. The passport must match the horse in question. If the purchaser does not receive the horse’s passport, they will also be committing an offence when transporting the horse to its new home.
Return of the Passport
In the event of the death of any horse, the passport must be returned to the issuing PIO for cancellation within 30 days of the death. Owners may request the return of a passport following cancellation. Any such returned passport will be clearly stamped ‘invalid’ to prevent any fraudulent use. Slaughterhouses will return passports to the PIO concerned directly.