Guidance

Export horses and ponies: special rules

Current rules for exporting horses and other equines (including ponies and donkeys) from the UK.

Exporting or moving equines from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland

To export or move horses and other equines from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU or Northern Ireland, you need to contact:

  • your official vet to book an appointment so you can get blood tests taken in time – an official vet works in a private practice and on behalf of the government
  • an agent or transporter and tell them when you plan to travel – you may need 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:

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 Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland.

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

From 15 January 2022, you’ll need to use EHC:

  • 8431 instead of 8335 to export or move equines that are not intended for slaughter from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland
  • 8432 instead of 8337 to export or move equines that are not intended for slaughter from Great Britain to a non-EU country (transiting the EU or Northern Ireland)
  • 8433 instead of 8334 to export or move equines from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland after temporary import to Great Britain for less than 30 days to participate in racing, competition or cultural events
  • 8434 instead of 8336 to export or move equines from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland after temporary import to Great Britain for less than 90 days to participate in an event organised by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI)

You can use either the existing or replacement EHCs until 14 January 2022.

If you’re moving equines to Northern Ireland, 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.

Tests for equines before export

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

If you’re using EHC 8334, 8335, 8336 or 8337, you need to get your equine tested for equine infectious anaemia within 90 days of travel if the animal is both:

  • going to remain in the EU or Northern Ireland for less than 90 days
  • registered with either a national branch of an international body for sporting and competition purposes, or an EU-recognised UK studbook

For permanent and all other temporary exports and movements, you need to get your equines tested for equine infectious anaemia within 30 days of travel.

If you’re using EHC 8334, 8335, 8336 or 8337, you also need to get your equine tested for equine viral arteritis. You must have any uncastrated male equines that are older than 180 days tested within 21 days of travel, unless they meet vaccination requirements.

If you’re using EHC 8431, 8432, 8433 or 8434, you need to get your equines tested for equine infectious anaemia within 90 days of travel.

EHC 8334, 8335, 8336 or 8337: isolation and residency requirements

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 Northern Ireland 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 Great Britain or a country with a similar health status either:

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

Before you export or move any other equine into the EU or Northern Ireland, you must keep the animal separate from other equines that do not have equivalent health status for at least 30 days. These rules apply to both permanent and temporary exports and movements.

You also need to keep the animal on a holding in Great Britain 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 Great Britain (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.

EHC 8431, 8432, 8433 or 8434: isolation and residency requirements

Registered horses belong to either:

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

All other horses are classified as unregistered.

Before you export or move a registered horse to the EU or Northern Ireland, you need to keep it on a holding in Great Britain, the EU, Northern Ireland or a country with a similar health status either:

  • for 40 days
  • since birth (if the horse is less than 40 days old)
  • since its entry into Great Britain (if the horse was imported or moved directly from the EU, Northern Ireland or a country with a similar health status less than 40 days before you export it)

You must keep your registered horse under veterinary supervision either:

  • for 30 days
  • since birth (if the horse is less than 30 days old)
  • since its entry into Great Britain (if the horse was imported or moved directly from the EU, Northern Ireland or country of similar health status less than 30 days before you export it)

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.

Before you export or move an unregistered horse or other equine, you must keep the animal on a holding in Great Britain either:

  • for 40 days
  • since birth (if the equine is younger than 40 days old)
  • since its entry into Great Britain (if the equine was imported or moved directly from the EU, Northern Ireland or Norway)

Before you export or move your equine into the EU or Northern Ireland, you must keep it separate from other equines either:

  • for at least 30 days (unless you have a foal that’s at foot with their dam or foster mare)
  • since birth (if the equine is younger than 30 days old)
  • since its entry into Great Britain (if the equine was imported or moved directly from the EU, Northern Ireland or Norway)

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:

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 Northern Ireland and return to Great Britain. You must get a supplementary travel ID every time you move an unregistered horse to the EU or Northern Ireland.

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.

Northern Ireland boundary rules

Equines moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland need to enter Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland.

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 Northern Ireland
  • can enter the EU or Northern Ireland 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 need 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 Northern Ireland, 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 Great Britain 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.

Check if you need a county parish holding (CPH) number

You can use the following EHCs to export or move an equine from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland until 14 January 2022:

  • 8431 or 8335 to export or move equines that are not intended for slaughter from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland
  • 8432 or 8337 to export or move equines that are not intended for slaughter from Great Britain to a non-EU country (transiting the EU or Northern Ireland)
  • 8433 or 8334 to export or move equines from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland after temporary import to Great Britain for less than 30 days to participate in racing, competition or cultural events
  • 8434 or 8336 to export or move equines from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland after temporary import to Great Britain for less than 90 days to participate in an event organised by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI)

If you use EHC 8334, 8335, 8336 or 8337, you do not need a CPH number.

If you use EHC 8431, 8432, 8433 or 8434, you’ll need to include your CPH number on the EHC. You must use one of these EHC’s when exporting or moving an equine from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland from 15 January 2022.

If you do not have a CPH, an official vet will not certify that you can export or move equines from your premises to the EU or Northern Ireland.

If you’re in England or Scotland, you’ll need to:

  1. Complete the CPH number application form.
  2. Email your completed form to Equine.Registration@apha.gov.uk.

If you’re in Wales, you can apply for a CPH through Rural Payments Wales (RPW). When you have signed into your account, select ‘Manage my CPH’ and follow the instructions.

If you already have a CPH number, you do not need to register again.

Exporting equines from Northern Ireland to the EU

To move horses, ponies or donkeys from Northern Ireland to the EU (except the Republic of Ireland), you must:

Apply for an ITAHC

You’ll need to follow these steps when applying for an ITAHC:

  1. Nominate an official vet to inspect your horses. To find one, ask at your local vet or contact DAERA.
  2. Register with the TRACES system if you have not used it before.
  3. Sign in to TRACES and fill in the details of the animals you’re exporting.
  4. Your ITAHC will be sent to your official vet via TRACES. If your official vet does not receive your ITAHC, contact DAERA.
  5. Inform DAERA that your official vet has received your ITAHC and provide them with details of your official vet.
  6. Include your ITAHC when you export your consignment.

Your ITAHC will be valid for 10 days after it has been signed.

There’s no fee for an ITAHC but you’ll be charged for your vet’s services.

Moving horses between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

You can move horses and other equines freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland unless they’re transported for slaughter.

Keep the horse passport with the animal during travel.

You do not need an ITAHC but you must comply with welfare legislation.

Returned horses and other equines rejected from a BCP

APHA carry out a risk assessment of horses and other equines rejected at EU BCPs or Northern Ireland points of entry. APHA then decide which point of entry they may use to re-enter Great Britain.

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

If your equines are rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland, you do not need to submit a notification on IPAFFS. You should instead email APHA’s Centre for International Trade (CIT) at imports@apha.gov.uk. You must state in your email that you wish to return your equines to Great Britain.

Attach these documents to the IPAFFS notification (or to your email if your equines are rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland):

  • the original export certificate and related documentation
  • statement from the EU BCP or Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland point of entry with details of the premises in which the horses or other equines were kept since leaving Great Britain, 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 Great Britain

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 March 2022

From 1 March 2022, returned horses and other equines must enter Great Britain 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 Great Britain to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland

If you want to move horses from Great Britain 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 Great Britain 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.

If you need help

If you have any queries about moving horses and other equines between the UK and EU member states, you can either:

Published 7 November 2016
Last updated 8 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. New guidance on: * Export Health Certificates (EHCs) * the tests equines need before they're exported or moved * isolation and residency requirements for equines before export * getting a county parish holding (CPH) number.

  2. Added information to the 'Returned horses and other equines rejected from a BCP' section on what to do if your equine is rejected at a point of entry in Northern Ireland.

  3. Updated dates in section on returned horses and other equines rejected from an EU Border Control Post (BCP).

  4. New guidance on the recognition of UK studbooks.

  5. Updated EXA31 equidae form and guidance note

  6. Updated call out box to reflect latest Brexit status

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

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

  9. Export declaration guidance notes updated

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

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

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

  13. EHC list updated

  14. Export Health Certificate list updated.

  15. EHC list updated

  16. Updated broken link

  17. First published.