Guidance

Export horses and ponies: special rules

Rules for exporting horses and other equines, including ponies and donkeys, and what you’ll need to do if there’s no Brexit deal.

Most countries may have import rules for live animals, including horses and other equines. You can check by talking to your importer or researching your export market.

If you’re planning to move a horse or other equine to the EU after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you should:

  • contact your official vet to book an appointment so you can get blood tests taken in time
  • contact an agent or transporter and tell them when you plan to travel - you may need more time to plan travel through an EU border inspection post (BIP)

If you’re moving horses within the EU or Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, this is considered EU trade.

To move horses and other equines from the UK to the EU in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you’ll need to:

Tests for equines before export

You’ll need to get your equines tested and found free of certain diseases.

You’ll need tests for:

  • equine infectious anaemia within 30 days before travel for permanent exports
  • 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
  • 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’ll need to keep horses and other equines in certain conditions before export.

Before you export a registered horse for fewer than 90 days you’ll need to keep the animal for 40 days in one of the following:

  • a holding in the UK
  • an EU country
  • a country with a similar health status

Before you export a horse registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes for less than 90 days, you will need to keep it on a holding in the UK or a country with a similar health status:

  • for 40 days
  • since entry to the UK, if the animal was imported directly from the EU or a country with a similar health status to the UK fewer than 40 days before you export

Before permanent export, or temporary export of any other equine, you’ll need to keep the animal on a holding in the UK under veterinary supervision, or a country with similar health status:

  • for 90 days
  • since birth if the animal is less than 90 days old
  • since entry to the UK if the animal was imported directly from the EU fewer than 90 days before you export

You’ll need to keep the animal separate from other equines that don’t have equivalent health status for at least 30 days before export.

Your supervising vet does not need to be an official vet. However, an official vet must confirm that you’ve 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 a live animal.

The EHC will replace the Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) for exports to countries in the EU.

To apply for an EHC you’ll need to:

  1. Find the EHC and other forms you need on the export health certificate form finder. If you’re exporting from Northern Ireland, contact your local DAERA office. Most EHCs have guidance documents telling you how to fill out the certificate.
  2. Nominate an official vet to inspect your horse or other equines. There are various ways you can find one:

  3. Fill in the EHC and supporting forms and email them to the APHA address on the forms.
  4. APHA will send your EHC to your official vet within 7 working days, or within one working day if you plan to export in the next 7 working days. They’ll provide copies in the languages of the destination country and the country where the horse or other equine first enters the EU.
  5. Arrange for the official vet to check the horse or other equine meets the health requirements of the destination country within 48 hours of travel. The official vet will complete and sign the EHC and send a copy to APHA.
  6. The official vet must give you the EHC on the same day that you load the animals for travel.
  7. Keep the completed EHC and other documents with the animal during travel.

There’s no fee for the certificate, but you’ll need to pay for your vet’s services.

If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact DAERA for specific advice.

Check you have the right equine ID

You’ll be able to use the horse passport (industry-issued equine ID) to export equines registered with one of the following:

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

To export all other equines, apply for a government-issued equine ID from the:

  • Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) if you’re in Great Britain - find the application form on the form finder
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) if you’re in Northern Ireland

APHA will tell you when they have sent your equine ID form to your official vet. Your official vet will give you the equine ID with the EHC when they check the animal before travel.

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

The equine ID will be valid for a single journey to the EU and return to the UK. You’ll need to apply for a government-issued equine ID every time you move an unregistered horse to the EU.

EU border rules

You’ll need to complete a customs declaration form.

The person responsible for the equine move must tell the EU border inspection post that you intend to arrive, at least 24 hours before your arrival.

Recognition of UK studbooks

The UK has applied to the EU for the recognition of UK studbooks. We do not expect the EU to recognise the UK’s studbooks before the UK leaves the EU. If recognition is granted, horses in recognised UK studbooks will be able to use export health certificates that are only available to registered horses.

This means these horses would be able to follow the same rules for blood testing, residency and isolation as horses registered with a national branch of international body for racing or competition when moving to the EU for under 90 days.

They would also no longer require a government-issued equine ID to move from the UK to the EU.

Other export requirements

Before exporting, businesses must:

Find out more about exporting animals, animal products, fish and fishery products to the EU after EU Exit.

Import requirements

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, exporters in the EU can continue to use the EU’s TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) to notify the UK of imports from the EU.

For horses which currently enter the UK from France using a Commercial Document (DOCOM), or travel from Ireland without any animal health documentation, there will be no immediate change to the current entry documentation. Registered horses travelling from the EU with health attestations will also continue to be able to do so.

Importers in the UK will still need to notify UK authorities of certain consignments. If you’re importing a horse or other equine using an ITAHC or DOCOM, you’ll need to notify APHA using the IV66 Import Notification Form. Find out more about the notification processes for importing live animals from non-EU countries and EU countries.

Equines originating in the EU will not have to enter the UK via a Border Inspection Post.

Moving equines within the EU: current rules

To move horses, ponies or donkeys within the EU (or to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) you must:

Apply for an ITAHC

  1. Nominate an official vet to inspect your horses. To find one, ask at your local vet or email csonehealthovteam@apha.gov.uk
  2. Register with the TRACES system if you’ve not used it before.
  3. Sign in to TRACES and fill in the details of the animals you’re exporting.
  4. Contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) (DAERA in Northern Ireland) - tell them that the ITAHC has been created and give them details of your official vet.
  5. Your certificate will be sent to your official vet once your animals have passed inspection. If your official vet does not receive the certificate, contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.
  6. Include the certificate when you export your consignment.

Instead of using TRACES, you can fill in form form EXA31 equidae (PDF, 841KB, 7 pages) , using the guidance notes (PDF, 119KB, 5 pages) to help you.

Send the completed form to the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle.

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

There’s no fee for the certificate but you’ll be charged for your vet’s services.

Moving equines outside the EU: current rules

You usually need to complete an export health certificate (EHC) and some supporting documents to be able to export a live animal from the UK to a non-EU country.

To find out if you need an EHC and apply, follow these steps.

  1. Find the EHC and other forms you need on the export health certificate form finder. If you’re exporting from Northern Ireland, contact your local DAERA office. Most EHCs will have guidance on how to fill out the certificate.
  2. Fill in the EHC and supporting forms and email them to the APHA address on the forms.
  3. In most cases you’ll need to find an official vet to inspect your animal and sign the certificate. If you’re in Northern Ireland contact DAERA.
  4. APHA will send your EHC to your official vet within one working day of your application.
  5. The official vet will check the horse or other equine meets the health requirements of the destination country, and complete and sign the EHC. The completed EHC will go with the animal, and the official vet will send a copy to APHA.

There is no fee for processing the EHC but you’ll need to pay for the official vet’s services.

If you cannot find the EHC you need, contact APHA.

In some cases you:

  • cannot export your type of horse or pony - for example, there’s a ban on exporting pure-bred horses to Syria and North Korea
  • do not need an EHC - contact the APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to check

Use the most up-to-date EHC

EHCs are sometimes updated when import agreements change. So make sure you’re using the latest version of a certificate. The EHC form finder will always have the latest version.

Applications on out-of-date forms will be rejected and cause delays to your exports.

You can sign up for alerts on the export health certificate form finder so that you get an email when a form is updated.

Check if you need an export welfare declaration

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

You don’t 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
  • certain horses to France

Thoroughbred horses don’t need an export declaration if a steward or secretary of the Jockey Club certifies that any of the following apply:

  • they arrived in Great Britain no more than one month before the date of shipment 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 guidance notes (PDF, 77.2KB, 4 pages) to help you.

Fill it in and give it to the aircraft or master of the vessel that’s carrying the horses or ponies.

Exporting horses to France

You don’t need an export welfare declaration if you’re exporting:

  • thoroughbreds used for racing, breeding, training or that are moving to be sold
  • French registered Autre Que Pur Sang (AQPS) horses (a type of non-thoroughbred horse) competing in Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) sponsored events
  • horses registered on the Weatherby’s non-thoroughbreds register

But you must make sure that each horse travels with a Commercial Document (DOCOM).

You can get the DOCOM from:

Published 7 November 2016
Last updated 10 April 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance following the EU’s decision to list the UK as a third country for the export of equines.
  2. Added guidance on other import and export requirements if the UK exists the EU without a deal.
  3. Updated with guidance on export health certificates and other new requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
  4. EHC list updated
  5. Export Health Certificate list updated.
  6. EHC list updated
  7. Updated broken link
  8. First published.