Guidance

Export horses and ponies: special rules

Current rules for exporting horses and other equines, including ponies and donkeys.

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

Moving equines within the EU

To move horses, ponies or donkeys within the EU (or to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or 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 csconehealthovteam@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 EXA31 equidae (PDF, 858KB, 7 pages), using the guidance notes (PDF, 149KB, 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 other equines between the UK and Republic of Ireland freely unless they are destined for slaughter.

Keep the horse passport with the animal 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 and ponies competing in Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) sponsored events
  • horses registered on Weatherbys’ non-thoroughbreds register

You can get the DOCOM from:

Moving equines outside the EU

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 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 you’re exporting 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 pilot of 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 Weatherbys’ 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 19 December 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated EXA31 equidae form and guidance note

  2. Updated call out box to reflect latest Brexit status

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

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

  5. Export declaration guidance notes updated

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

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

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

  9. EHC list updated

  10. Export Health Certificate list updated.

  11. EHC list updated

  12. Updated broken link

  13. First published.