Guidance

Export horses and ponies: special rules

Current rules for exporting horses and other equines, including ponies and donkeys, to the EU and Northern Ireland (NI).

Exporting or moving equines from Great Britain (GB) to the EU or NI

To export or move horses and other equines from GB (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU or NI, you need to contact:

  • your official vet to book an appointment so you can get blood tests taken in time
  • an agent or transporter and tell them when you plan to travel – you may require more time to plan travel through an EU border control post (BCP)

Find details of the most used BCPs in the EU:

You also need to:

Tests for equines before export

You must get your equines tested to prove they’re free of certain diseases.

You need tests for:

  • equine infectious anaemia – within 90 days before travel for temporary exports (of under 90 days) for horses registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting and competition purposes, or within 30 days before travel for permanent exports and all other temporary exports
  • equine viral arteritis – within 21 days of travel for uncastrated male equines older than 180 days, unless they meet vaccination requirements

Isolation and residency requirements before export

You need to keep horses and other equines in certain conditions before export.

Before you temporarily (less than 90 days) export or move a horse to the EU or NI that’s registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes or an EU-recognised UK studbook, you need to keep it on a holding in GB or a country with a similar health status either:

  • for 40 days
  • since its entry into GB (if the animal was imported or moved directly from the EU, NI or a country with a similar health status to GB less than 40 days before you export)

Before permanent export or movement, or temporary export or movement of any other equine into the EU or NI, you must keep the animal separate from other equines that do not have equivalent health status for at least 30 days.

You also need to keep the animal on a holding in GB under veterinary supervision, or a country with similar health status either:

  • for 90 days
  • since birth (if the animal is younger than 90 days old)
  • since its entry into GB (if the animal was imported or moved directly from the EU less than 90 days before you export)

Your supervising vet does not need to be an official vet. However, an official vet must confirm that you have met these requirements before you export the equine.

Apply for an export health certificate (EHC)

You need to complete an EHC and some supporting documents to export or move a live animal from GB to the EU or NI.

The EHC is an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the destination country.

Find out how to apply for an EHC.

If you’re moving equines to NI, you do not need to pay for them to be inspected and certified. The certifier invoices the government for these costs as part of the Movement Assistance Scheme.

Check you have the right equine ID

You can use the horse passport (industry-issued equine ID) to export or move equines registered with one of the following:

  • an EU-recognised studbook
  • a national branch of an international racing or competition organisation

To export or move all other equines, you need a government-issued supplementary travel ID from:

  • APHA if you’re in GB – this is sent to your official vet along with the EHC
  • DAERA if you’re in NI

Your official vet will give you the supplementary travel ID with the EHC when they check the animal before travel.

You need to keep the supplementary travel ID together with the horse passport and the EHC with the animal during travel.

The supplementary travel ID is valid for a single journey to the EU or NI and return to GB. You must get a supplementary travel ID every time you move an unregistered horse to the EU or NI.

EU border rules

You need to complete a customs declaration form before the equine arrives at the EU border.

Plan your trade route so that your animal can be inspected at an EU BCP. Some BCPs accept both registered and unregistered equines but not all do. You need to check the correct BCP to go through.

Make sure you or your EU-based import agent have notified the BCP on TRACES, in advance, that your consignment is arriving. Check with the BCP for how much notice needs to be given.

NI boundary rules

Equines moving from GB to NI need to enter NI at a designated point of entry, where they may be subject to controls. Pre-notification requirements also apply.

Contact the Movement Assistance Scheme helpline for advice on moving equines to NI.

Recognition of UK studbooks

The EU has recognised the UK studbooks that applied for listing. The European Commission has published a list of the EU-recognised UK studbooks.

If you’re exporting a horse that belongs to an EU-recognised UK studbook, your horse can use EHCs that are only available to registered horses. Your horse can then follow the same rules for blood testing, residency and isolation as those registered with a national branch of an international body for racing or competition. These rules apply to horses that are moving to the EU for less than 90 days.

In addition, horses belonging to an EU-recognised UK studbook:

  • do not need a government-issued supplementary travel ID to move from the UK to the EU or NI
  • can enter the EU or NI via BCPs or points of entry approved for registered equines

If you’re exporting a horse that does not belong to an EU-recognised UK studbook, you’ll need to follow the rules for exporting unregistered horses.

Documents to transport live animals

You’ll need certain documentation to transport live animals. You may also need journey logs.

Check if you need an export welfare declaration

Whether you need an export welfare declaration depends on the horse or other equine you’re exporting and where you’re exporting it to.

You do not require an export welfare declaration if you’re moving:

  • horses by direct flight to countries outside of Europe
  • horses over 147cm to the Republic of Ireland
  • horses or ponies to NI, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man

Thoroughbred horses do not need an export declaration if the British Horseracing Authority certifies that any of the following apply:

  • they arrived in GB no more than one month before the date of shipment and to compete in a race
  • they’re being shipped for a race or for training
  • they’re being shipped to be used for breeding

Get an export welfare declaration

If you need an export declaration, download the form for:

You can use the welfare arrangements guidance notes for exporters (PDF, 84.1KB, 4 pages) to help you.

Complete the relevant form and give it to the pilot of the aircraft or master of the vessel that’s carrying the horses or ponies.

Exporting equines from NI to the EU

There are no changes to the way equines are exported from NI to the EU. These exports can continue as before.

Returned horses and other equines rejected from a BCP from 1 January

From 1 January, APHA are carrying out a risk assessment of horses and other equines rejected at EU BCPs or Northern Irish points of entry. APHA are then deciding which point of entry they may use to re-enter GB.

To return a consignment, submit an import notification on the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS).

Attach these documents to the IPAFFS notification:

  • the original export certificate and related documentation
  • statement from the EU BCP or NI point of entry BCP of the reasons why the horses or other equines were refused by the EU BCP
  • statement from the EU BCP or NI point of entry with details of the premises in which the horses or other equines were kept since leaving GB, for example in quarantine or in isolation
  • declaration by the person responsible for the returned horses or other equines that the import conditions relating to transport have been complied with, such as animal welfare requirements
  • declaration by the person responsible for the horses or other equines that they have not been in contact with any other animal of a lesser health status since leaving GB

For the IPAFFS notification, the ‘country of origin’ is the country where the rejecting BCP is located.

Email APHA Centre for International Trade (CIT) at imports@apha.gov.uk to tell them that you have submitted an IPAFFS notification.

In the title of the email:

  • state that the message is about an IPAFFS notification for the return of a consignment
  • include the Unique Notification Number that IPAFFS generates when the notification is submitted

APHA will assess this information to decide:

  • the conditions of import
  • if the consignment will have to be returned through any point of entry or a BCP

APHA will issue you with a written authorisation. The consignment cannot be returned until you have received this authorisation. You must comply with the conditions of the authorisation.

The imports@apha.gov.uk email address is monitored Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm (excluding public holidays).

Returned horses and other equines rejected from an EU BCP from 1 July 2021

From 1 July 2021, returned horses and other equines must enter GB at an appropriately designated BCP for checks on entry.

You must notify on IPAFFS and present the relevant documents to the BCP.

Follow guidance on returned goods processes for animal products and live animals.

Moving horses from GB to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland

If you want to move horses from GB to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland, you should consult your transporter or the competent authority in the country you’re exporting to.

Moving equines from GB to third (non-EU) countries

You usually need to complete an EHC and supporting documents to export a live animal.

The EHC is an official document that confirms your export meets the health requirements of the destination country.

Find out how to apply for an EHC.

In some cases, you:

You should also check if you need an export welfare declaration.

Published 7 November 2016
Last updated 5 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. New guidance on the recognition of UK studbooks.

  2. Updated EXA31 equidae form and guidance note

  3. Updated call out box to reflect latest Brexit status

  4. Updated as UK will have third country status for equines

  5. Added in extra information about streamlined re-entry processes to the EU.

  6. Export declaration guidance notes updated

  7. Updated guidance following the EU’s decision to list the UK as a third country for the export of equines.

  8. Added guidance on other import and export requirements if the UK exists the EU without a deal.

  9. Updated with guidance on export health certificates and other new requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

  10. EHC list updated

  11. Export Health Certificate list updated.

  12. EHC list updated

  13. Updated broken link

  14. First published.