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It is a legal requirement for all horses and ponies to be issued with a passport and in the correct ownership.

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Owners and keepers with primary responsibility must ensure their horses are correctly identified and be able to produce the passport without delay when required. All horses, ponies, donkeys and other equidae are required to have a passport from 6 months of age, or by 30th November in the year of their birth, whichever is the sooner.

A horse’s passport must be kept with him at all times. This includes any time the horse leaves the yard, such as to go to a show, on loan or away for schooling. It is illegal to travel a horse without their passport, unless they are being transported for emergency veterinary treatment. The passport must be produced within three hours of it being requested by enforcement agencies. The passport may be requested at any time but the most common situations where a horse’s passport will be requested include:

  • When the animal is moved into or out of Great Britain
  • When the animal is used at a competition
  • When the animal is moved to new premises
  • When the animal is presented at a slaughterhouse for slaughter
  • When the animal is sold
  • When the animal is used for breeding purposes.

Vets will require the passport when prescribing many common veterinary medicines, (for example “Bute”) and will ensure the horse in question is then permanently excluded from the human food chain by signing Part III of Section II of the passport.

Applications for equine passports can only be accepted for micro-chipped animals and the owner or keeper must ensure that the equine does not already have an existing passport. When the passport is received, it should be carefully checked to ensure all the details are correct, and then signed where required on the owner’s page.

No animal may have more than one passport. Passports are the property of the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) and the passport must be returned to the issuing PIO:

  • If the animal changes ownership (within 30 days)
  • If any alterations are required (for example: update of adult colour, castration)
  • If extra pages are required for vaccination records, etc
  • If the document is damaged
  • When the animal dies (within 30 days).

Late Passports

Passports may still be acquired for horses older than the passport deadline, provided there is no existing passport for the animal. Applications should be made to the appropriate PIO for the breed of the horse and should include appropriate checks and fees. Before the passport is issued to the owner, the issuing PIO will sign Part III of Section II to permanently exclude the horse from the human food chain.

Duplicate Passports

If the passport is lost, a duplicate may be requested from the original PIO only. A vet will have to complete a silhouette/markings form and on receipt of this, the appropriate fees and checks, a duplicate passport may be issued, in which Part III of Section II will have been signed by the PIO, to permanently exclude the animal from the human food chain.  The duplicate passport will be stamped as a duplicate, and should the original passport ever be found, it must be returned to the issuing PIO immediately.  

Transfers of Ownership

The horse passport does not constitute proof of ownership of the horse. However, it is a requirement under the Horse Passport (England) Legislation to register a change of ownership with the relevant PIO within 30 days of acquiring a horse. The issuing PIO may require a completed transfer form and fees. It is an offence to sell a horse without a passport. Sale of any horse should not be completed if the passport has not been provided. The passport must match the horse in question. If the purchaser does not receive the horse’s passport, they will also be committing an offence when transporting the horse to its new home.

Return of the Passport

In the event of the death of any horse, the passport must be returned to the issuing PIO for cancellation within 30 days of the death. Owners may request the return of a passport following cancellation. Any such returned passport will be clearly stamped ‘invalid’ to prevent any fraudulent use. Slaughterhouses will return passports to the PIO concerned directly.

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