Passport Regulations

On 1 August 2009 new horse passport regulations were imposed which affected every horse owner in England.

What you should know about the new passport and microchipping regulations:

  • You can be fined £5,000 for not having a passport or microchip (if appropriate).
  • Only the owner of a horse may apply for a passport.
  • Foals born after 1 July 2009 must have a microchip implanted by a vet when first identified at 6 months old.
  • When applying for first passports for adult horses, the horse must be microchipped and will be signed out of the food chain automatically by the vet.
  • The passport must accompany a horse at all times, except when stabled, in the field or on a hack.  It is an offence to transport your horse without a passport, except in an emergency.
  • The passport must be available to be shown to a local authority officer within three hours at any time, but DEFRA says it will be flexible about this regulation.
  • The keeper is responsible for the horse’s passport.  The keeper may be the owner, loaner, livery yard manager, transporter, racehorse trainer or auctioneer, depending on the circumstances.
  • Passports are no longer issued at sales, markets or abattoirs.
  • You must give the passport to a buyer at the point of sale.
  • If you are selling through a market, they must receive the passport before the sale can go ahead.
  • You must notify the PIO of any change of ownership or death of a horse within 30 days.  It is an offence not to do so.
  • Vets must ask to see a horse’s passport before any treatment can take place.
  • If your horse has not been signed out of the human food chain (at Section IX part II of the passport) vets are limited in the drugs they may use on your horse.
  • If a horse has been given ‘bute’ (phenylbutazone) at any point in its life, it must be signed out of the food chain.
  • A dispensation from passport and microchipping law has been made for semi-feral ponies in the New Forest, Exmoor and Dartmoor, but as soon as they are moved from the moor, except direct to a slaughter house or to receive veterinary attention, they must be microchipped and passport.

How the new regulations safeguard your horse from theft

  • All owners applying for a new passport must microchip the horse/pony to which the passport relates.
  • Vets must scan a horse for an existing microchip before implanting a new one.
  • Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs) must check the microchip number to ensure it has not been implanted before.
  • Passports can no longer be issued at sales, markets or abattoirs.
  • PIOs will issue a temporary document, valid for 45 days, if you need to return your passport to them for any reason.
  • Vets must check a horse passport before any treatment.
  • All duplicate or replacement passports will be marked as such by the PIO.
  • If is an offence to be in possession of a defaced, forged or altered passport.