Guidance

Export horses and ponies: special rules

Rules for exporting horses and other equines, including ponies and donkeys, and what you need to do in a no-deal Brexit.

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

Follow separate guidance if you want to find out how you can import horses into the UK if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

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Moving equines to the EU in a no-deal Brexit

To move horses and other equines from the UK to the EU if there’s a no-deal Brexit, you’ll 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 need more time to plan travel through an EU border inspection post (BIP)

You’ll also need to:

Tests for equines before export

You’ll need to get your equines tested so they’re free of certain diseases.

You’ll need tests for:

  • equine infectious anaemia - within 30 days before travel for permanent exports, or 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 temporarily (less than 90 days) a horse registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes, you will need to keep it on a holding in the UK or a country with a similar health status either:

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

Before permanent export, or temporary export of any other equine, you’ll need to keep the animal separate from other equines that do not have equivalent health status for at least 30 days.

You’ll also need to keep the animal on a holding in the UK 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 to the UK if the animal was imported 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’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 in a no-deal Brexit.

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 Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (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 Animal Plant and Health Agency (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, you’ll need to apply for a government-issued equine ID from:

  • APHA if you’re in Great Britain - find the application form on the form finder
  • 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 before the equine arrives at the EU border.

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

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

Recognition of UK studbooks

The UK has applied to the EU for the recognition of UK studbooks. You should plan any exports on the basis that the UK’s studbooks will not be recognised immediately after Brexit. This means if you’re exporting a horse registered in a UK studbook you should follow the rules set out for unregistered horses.

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 would mean these horses can 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.

In addition, these horses would:

  • no longer need a government-issued equine ID to move from the UK to the EU
  • be able to enter the EU via BIPs approved for registered equines

Other export requirements

Before exporting, businesses must:

Find out more about exporting animals and animal products in a no-deal Brexit.

Moving horses to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland

In a no-deal Brexit, if you want to move horses from the UK to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland you should consult your transporter or the competent authority in the country you’re exporting to.

Re-entry to the EU

EU owners returning horses to the EU can use a streamlined re-entry process for registered horses that have been in the UK for less than 30 days for racing or competitions. Under EU rules, these horses will need a health certificate or veterinary health attestation from their own country proving when the animal left the EU.

In this streamlined re-entry process, animals still need an EHC and equine ID but do not need to have blood tests or meet the same residency and isolation requirements. Find out more on the export health certificate notes for guidance.

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 horses between the UK and Republic of Ireland

You can move horses and donkeys between the UK and Republic of Ireland freely unless they are destined for slaughter.

Keep the horse passport with the horse during travel.

You don’t need an ITAHC but you must comply with welfare legislation.

Moving horses between the UK and France

You can move the following types of horse freely between the UK and France if they have a passport and a Commercial Document (DOCOM):

  • 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)
  • sports horses competing in Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) sponsored events
  • horses registered on the Weatherby’s non-thoroughbreds register

You can get the DOCOM from:

Moving equines outside the EU: current rules

You usually need to complete an 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 in the certificate.
  2. Fill in the EHC and supporting forms and email them to 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 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 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, 84.1KB, 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 21 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated call out box to reflect latest Brexit status
  2. Updated as UK will have third country status for equines
  3. Added in extra information about streamlined re-entry processes to the EU.
  4. Export declaration guidance notes updated
  5. Updated guidance following the EU’s decision to list the UK as a third country for the export of equines.
  6. Added guidance on other import and export requirements if the UK exists the EU without a deal.
  7. Updated with guidance on export health certificates and other new requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
  8. EHC list updated
  9. Export Health Certificate list updated.
  10. EHC list updated
  11. Updated broken link
  12. First published.
  1. Step 1 Make sure your business has an EORI number that starts with GB

    You'll need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number starting with GB to continue exporting goods.

    1. Get an EORI number
  2. and Check your importer has an EU EORI number

    Your importer will need an EU EORI number.

    You'll need to get an EU EORI number if you're exporting to your own business within the EU. You can get one from the customs authority in any EU country.

  3. Step 2 Decide who will make the export declarations

    You can hire someone to deal with customs for you, or you can do it yourself.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to make customs declarations for you
    2. Find out how to make customs declarations yourself
  4. and Decide if you want to export your goods using transit

    You may be able to use the Common Transit Convention (CTC) to simplify how your goods pass through customs and when your importer pays customs duties.

    1. Find out if you can use the CTC
  5. Step 3 Check the rate of tax and duty for your goods

    Your importer will need to pay tax and duty on your goods after Brexit. This will depend on the classification of the goods.

  6. Step 4 Check what you need to do for the type of goods you export

  7. Step 5 Find out how changes to VAT will affect you

  8. Step 6 Decide who will transport your goods outside the UK

    You can hire someone to transport your goods, or you can do it yourself.

    1. Find out how to transport goods outside the UK yourself
  9. Step 7 Get help and support