Import Ponies and Horses 2021 UK Guidance


Import horses and ponies from 1 January 2021

Rules for importing horses and other equines, including ponies and donkeys from 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

Check what else you need to do during the transition period.

Importing equines from the EU to Great Britain (GB)

To move horses and other equines from the EU to GB from 1 January 2021, you’ll need to:

Submit a pre-import notification via the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS)

You’ll need to submit a notification through IPAFFS before your equine arrives in GB.

Tests for equines

Some equines will need testing for certain diseases before they’re imported from the EU to GB.

Equines that are registered with one of the following do not need to be tested before they’re imported:

  • an EU-approved studbook
  • a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes

All other equines require testing before they’re imported.

Your exporter must ensure that all unregistered equines are tested for:

  • equine infectious anaemia (within 30 days before travel)
  • equine viral arteritis (within 21 days before travel for uncastrated male equines that are older than 180 days, unless they meet vaccination requirements)

Isolation and residency requirements

Your exporter must keep unregistered equines:

  • on a holding in the country or a country with similar health status for 40 days prior to travel
  • separated from other equines that do not have equivalent health status, for at least 30 days prior to travel

Registered equines do not have to meet any isolation or residency requirements before they’re imported from the EU to GB.

Equine health certificates

Your exporter will need to complete a health certificate from their country’s competent authority before they can export equines to GB from 1 January 2021.

Equine identification (ID)

Your exporter must ensure that the equines they’re exporting have a horse passport (equine ID) that’s issued by one of the following:

GB border rules

From 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021, equines can enter GB from the EU through any point of entry. All document checks will be carried out remotely. Identity and physical checks will be carried out in the destination country as necessary.

From 1 July 2021, all equines from the EU must enter GB through a point of entry that contains a border control post (BCP). They’ll have identity and physical checks at the BCP if necessary.

Identity checks involve carrying out a visual inspection to check that the consignment matches the information recorded on the official documents.

Physical checks include inspecting:

  • the transport used to move the equines to GB
  • the condition of each equine
  • sampling for analysis (in some cases)

The level of physical and identity checks on EU goods from 1 July 2021 will be:

  • proportionate
  • based on assessments of biosecurity
  • based on assessments of public health risks

Transporting equines from the EU to GB or NI via GB

If you want to transport equines from the EU to GB or NI via GB, you’ll need to apply for GB-issued:

  • transporter authorisation
  • certificate of competence
  • vehicle approval certificate

GB will not accept EU-issued versions of these documents. You’ll still be able to use EU versions in NI.

If you’re transporting unregistered equines and the journey will take 8 hours or more, you’ll need to apply for 2 journey logs. The journey logs will cover transporting equines from the EU to or through GB.

You’ll require a journey log that’s approved by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and another that’s approved by the EU member state of origin.

For more information, contact

Customs declarations

You’ll need to consider if you’ll make customs declarations to HMRC yourself or use an intermediary to do this for you.

You (or your intermediary) can make customs declarations using:

  • the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system
  • Customs Declaration Service
  • Community System Providers (CSP)
  • commercial software

If you’re using the CHIEF system, you’ll need to hold a CHIEF badge if you’re making a customs declaration. Your intermediary will require a CHIEF badge if they’re submitting the declaration for you.

Other import requirements

Before importing from 1 January 2021, you must:

Importing equines from a third (non-EU) country to GB

Importers from GB will no longer have access to the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) from 1 January 2021.

To import equines to GB from 1 January 2021, you’ll need to use the IPAFFS to:

  • pre-notify APHA of the import
  • upload the required documents

Requirements for non-EU imports will remain the same from 1 January 2021.

Health and identity requirements for equines imported from a third (non-EU) country to GB via the EU

From 1 January 2021 to July 2021, equines imported from a third (non-EU) country to GB via the EU do not need to enter GB via a BCP if:

  • they have a health certificate
  • you have submitted a notification through IPAFFS
  • the exporter can prove their equine passed an animal health inspection at a recognised EU BCP – they’ll need to either upload the Common Health Entry Document (CHED) to IPAFFS or email a copy of the CHED to the Centre for International Trade – Carlisle (CITC)

If you cannot prove that the equines you’re importing have passed an animal health inspection at an EU BCP, they must enter GB at a recognised BCP. The BCP will need to have the facilities to carry out identity and physical checks for equines.

Equines must rest at their final destination for 48 hours before they’re moved again.

An APHA veterinary office will inspect an equine and relevant documentation again if APHA:

  • decide the equine requires another animal health inspection
  • suspect any non-compliance

Equine ID requirements after import to GB

If the equine you have imported will remain in the UK for more than 90 days, you must register it with a UK PIO. You must register your equine within 30 days of importing it to the UK.

There are limited circumstances where you do not need to register your equine with a PIO. For example, if your equine is due for slaughter within 10 days of entry to the UK. Check with a PIO if you think your equine may be exempt.

Every owner is legally responsible for ensuring their equine’s ID (horse passport) is correct and up to date. You can update the physical passport to a UK PIO, but you can make some updates (such as microchipping) without sending the passport to the PIO. Notify the PIO either directly or via the Digital Stable.

Published 17 November 2020