Why does my pony need a passport?

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

All equines are required to have a passport within 12 months of their birth. Owners and keepers with primary responsibility must ensure that their horses are correctly identified and be able to produce the passport without delay when required. No animal may have more than one passport.

An equine’s passport must be kept with them at all times. This includes any time the equine leaves the yard, such as to go to a show, on loan or away for schooling. It is illegal to travel an equine 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, e.g. “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.

A passport is the property of the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) that originally issued it, 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).

For more information on the legal requirements, please visit:



Getting a passport for your pony

Passports are issued by Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs). For pedigree animals, you must apply through a PIO that manages studbooks, such as the BCPS. In order to get a passport for your pony, you must ensure that:

  • The animal has been micro-chipped by a practising vet
  • It does not already have an existing passport
  • The application is made within six months of the animal’s birth or by 30th November of the animal’s year of birth (whichever is later).

For more information on registering your foal with the BCPS in order to apply for its passport, please see our New Registrations page.


Late passports

A passport can still be acquired for an equine over 12 months of age, provided that there is no existing passport for the animal. A passport issued after this deadline will be treated as late.

Applications should be made to the appropriate PIO for the breed of the horse and should include appropriate checks and fees. For late passport applications made to the BCPS, a levy of £25 will be added to the standard registration fee (see our New Registrations page for information on how to apply).

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.


Lost and 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.

If your pony’s passport was issued by the BCPS, please contact the Office to arrange the necessary forms.

Transfers of ownership

An equine passport does not constitute proof of ownership of the animal. 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. For more information on transferring ownership of a Connemara, please see our Transfer of Ownerships page.

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.


After the death of an equine

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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