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Since June 2004 all horses, ponies and donkeys in England are required to have a passport.  The original passport MUST accompany the horse when it travels (eg. to a competition or for veterinary treatment or after sale): The passport belongs to the horse, not the owner and must be given to the new keeper on transfer of care. For more information on horse passports visit

Why do I need a passport?

Your passport is a document within which all official identifications and health checks are documented.  In addition it is prudent to record your horse’s vaccination history here so you can prove the vaccinations are up to date for competition or export purposes. However, the reason the requirement to passport your horse became a legal requirement was to ensure that certain veterinary medicines do not inadvertently end up in the human food chain.  

The horse has been classified as a food produicing animal, rather than a domestic animal, meaning the horse is subject to similar rules as cattle, pigs and sheep, with regard to medicine control.  In the UK, the majority of horses are not intended for food purposes. If this is the case different medicines can be used.

How do I get a passport?

In order to get a passport issued you need to consider two things. Firstly, you need to choose which Passport Issuing Organisations (PIO) you would like to register your horse, pony or donkey with. If you have breeding papers for a specific breed, e.g. Welsh Section A pony, you may wish to get a passport from that specify breed society. You may wish to register your horse or pony according to their type, e.g. with the Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPs). We can provide basic Passport forms for you, but if you require a specific breed society, please download the forms required to ensure they are available at your vet visit. 

A full list of Passport Issuing Organisations can be found on the DEFRA website (link to the correct page) and some of these may require an identification silhouette to be drawn.  

Secondly, you need to arrange a visit with us to microchip your horse, pony or donkey, and/or complete the identification markings on the silhouette. The silhouette is optional for many agencies, but microchipping is now mandatory. Your agency may also request a DNA sample is taken from the foal, and possibly the mare as well.  If possible it is advisable to identify foals while they are still on the dam. A veterinary fee will apply for this work. 

Once the vet has implanted the microchip and signed your passport application forms, you then complete all your personal details, and those of your horse,pony or donkey. Once all the information has been provided we send the forms to the relevant organisation.  

Once your chose PIO receives your application, this will be processed and you should receive your passport in the post. Once you receive the actual passport, you must declare your horse as not intended for slaughter for human consumption, to prevent them entering the human food chain.


Why do I need a microchip to get a passport?

From 1st July 2009, passport regulations were changed requiring all horses must be microchipped in order to obtain a passport.  All new born foals must be microchipped by the end of the year of their birth or within 6 months of birth, whichever is later.  In addition, older horses not previously registered under the passport scheme will also have to be microchipped.  

In simple terms, if you require a passport for your horse, pony or donkey then any of our veterinary surgeons can attend to place a microchip, if there is not one present and complete a passport form.  If your horse is found to have a microchip already, we will use this number for your passport application.  If you were unaware of a previous microchip, we strongly recommend that you trace this number and inform the microchip company of the change in ownership.   

How do I ensure my horse doesn't enter the human food chain?

Section 9 within the passport is where the owner declares whether the animal is ultimately intended for human consumption or not. By signing this section you are making an irreversible decision ensuring that your horse can NEVER enter the food chain.

If a passport has not had section nine signed, if the passport is not available for inspection, or if the identification contained within the passport does not match your horse’s markings, there are severe restrictions regarding the medicines that can be administered to your horse.  These restricted medicines include Equipalazone (‘bute), some antibiotics and Sedalin gel/ACP tablets.  

Horses for sale or on loan without a passport

Vendors of horses are required to possess an up-to-date passport at the time the horse is offered for sale and a prospective purchaser should ask to view it before purchasing the horse.  It is illegal to sell a horse without a passport.  Proof of current application is acceptable, you should request to see a photocopy of the application form. 

To comply with the law, the passport must accompany the horse when a horse is on loan.  For security reasons, we strongly recommend that the owner retains a photocopy, in case the passport is misplaced or lost at any time.  However, the original copy must accompany the horse as it may be requested by competing bodies, vets or police or DEFRA official on spot checks when in transit.  If the passport cannot be produced you may be subject to a subtantial on the spot fine. 

What should I do with the passport after the horse has died?

The passport for the deceased animal should be returned to the Passport Issuing Authority within 30 days.  You can request for it to be returned for you to keep.

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