Since 1 July 2009 it has been a legal requirement in the UK for all horses, ponies, donkeys (and zebras!) to have a horse passport to identify them, with a fine of up to £5000 if you own a horse or are its main keeper and you are found not to have one.

Since 1 July 2009, all foals must to be microchipped with a unique number that’s matched to your contact details, as well as requiring a passport.    This must be done before the foal is six months old or by 31 December in the year it is born, whichever is later.  However, you will need to have your foal microchipped and obtain a passport for it if you wish to sell or move it without its dam before that time limit.

Since 1 July 2009, all horses requiring a new passport will also require a micro-chipped as part of the passport application process.  If your horse already has a valid horse passport, it does not require a microchip.

Without a valid horse passport:

  • you can’t move your horse
  • vets may be restricted in the types of medicines they can give your horse (such as ‘bute’)
  • you cannot have your horse slaughtered for human consumption

It is also illegal to buy or sell a horse without a valid horse passport – contact your local Trading Standards office if you are sold, or somebody attempts to sell you a horse without a passport – they may prosecute the seller.

Only the owner of the horse can apply for a passport and you can get an application form for a horse passport (a separate one is required for each horse) from an authorised ‘Passport Issuing Organisation’ (PIO).  Only passports issued by an authorised PIO are valid.  Most PIOs are recognised breed societies and may only issue passports for their particular breed of horse and with known parentage – a list of PIOs can be downloaded from the DEFRA website.

From 1 July 2009, if your horse is micro-chipped the diagram of the horse (silhouette) is no longer compulsory on the passport because that information is now included and stored on the microchip.  However, if your horse is registered with a breed society their rules may stipulate that a silhouette is required.

Whilst a vaccination certificate may include a silhouette, this does not count as a passport.

Once issued, the passport is valid for your horse’s lifetime and your horse will be issued with a ‘Unique Equine Life Number’.

Once you receive your horse’s passport you will need to state in Section IX of it’s passport whether or not your will horse will be intended for human consumption after it has died and once signed it cannot be changed.  This must be done before your horse

  • is treated with certain medications
  • is sent for slaughter for human consumption
  • leaves the UK – in which case the PIO or a local veterinary inspector must also countersign it