Travelling horses in the EU

Updated 26 April 2021

Here's the latest guidance for moving equines between Great Britain and the EU. We will update this page with further information as new information is published.

Please note: the EU Animal Health Law which came in to force on 21 April does not change any of the requirements below.

Shippers are currently experiencing challenges with export documentation, in addition to there being significant delays at EU ports on arrival. Please be aware and allow plenty of time to plan your journey, and engage a shipper early so that they can help you throughout the entire process. Please also be prepared to see an increase in fees as a result of the increased documentation required and time taken to process this. Read the British Equestrian update for further information.

Preparing to export horses to the EU and Northern Ireland

The UK has now left the EU with an agreed trade deal and third country status. This means that if you are planning on exporting a horse to the EU and Northern Ireland, you will need to...

  • to get equines tested for certain diseases before export
  • to meet pre-export isolation and residency requirements
  • to apply for an export health certificate (EHC)
  • have the correct equine identification (ID) documents
  • to check if they need an export welfare declaration

Further details are available here.

Vehicle and Transporter Authorisation 

UK Transporter Authorisations, driver and attendant Certificates of Competence and Vehicle Approval Certificates issued in the UK are not recognised by the EU. Any commercial transporter wishing to transport live animals into the EU will need to obtain new transport documentation issued by one of the EU27 Member States. Those travelling privately do not require the above. 

UK transporters wishing to transport live animals in the EU will need to appoint a representative within an EU country and apply to their relevant government department to obtain a valid Transporter Authorisation, Certificate of Competence and Vehicle Approval Certificate. The details of the process to enable this to happen are currently under negotiation, with active involvement from British Equestrian, the British Horseracing Authority, the Thoroughbred Breeder's Association and the British Horse Council. If you have a query, please contact us via email.

Where Journey Logs are required, they will need to be obtained from both APHA and the EU country that is the initial point of entry into the EU. Exporters need to present their transport documentation at the correct Border Control Post in the EU. FEI horses (with purple FEI Recognition Cards) will not need Journey Logs.

Great Britain-issued transport documentation will remain valid for transport within Great Britain only and those documents issued by Northern Ireland will remain valid for use in the UK (only).

Transporters should also check the latest advice from the Department for Transport.

Useful links

Required documentation

All equines travelling from Great Britain to the EU will need an Export Health Certificate (EHC) signed by an official vet for each journey to the EU. This would replace the current Intra-Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) or DOCOM (formerly used by FEI horses).

Equines would need to have been tested for the relevant diseases (see below) before completing the process to obtain an EHC, as the official vet will need this information to certify an equine for travel.

Horses with a purple FEI Recognition Card are classed as “registered with a national branch of an international organisation for sporting or competition purposes”, and won’t require any further Government-issued ID documents.

Click here to begin the process of notifying customs of your horse's journey.

Disease testing

Before an equine can be certified for travel and be issued an EHC, equines will need to be tested for the absence of certain diseases.

You’ll need tests for:

  • equine infectious anaemia – within 30 days before travel for permanent exports, or within 90 days before travel for temporary exports of under 90 days (for horses registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting and competition purposes eg FEI)
  • equine viral arteritis - within 21 days of travel for uncastrated male equines older than 180 days, unless they meet vaccination requirements.

Further information regarding testing can be found here.

Residency and isolation requirements

Before you export temporarily (less than 90 days) a horse registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting or competition purposes, you will need to keep it on a holding in the UK or a country with a similar health status either:

  • for 40 days
  • since its entry to the UK, if the animal was imported directly from the EU or a country with a similar health status to the UK less than 40 days before you export.

Before permanent export, or temporary export of any other equine, you’ll need to keep the animal separate from other equines that do not have equivalent health status for at least 30 days.

You’ll also need to keep the animal on a holding in the UK under veterinary supervision, or a country with similar health status either:

  • for 90 days
  • since birth if the animal is younger than 90 days old
  • since its entry to the UK if the animal was imported directly from the EU less than 90 days before you export

An official vet with the appropriate authorisation must confirm these requirements have been met before export.

EU recognition of UK studbooks

The EU has announced that all UK studbooks will be recognised. Horses registered in those studbooks will be able to follow the rules for horses registered with national branches of international bodies for sporting or competition purposes (eg FEI) when moving to the EU for less than 90 days. They will not require a UK Government-issued ID document to move to the EU. They will also be able to travel via Border Control Posts that are specifically approved for registered equines, as opposed to BCPs for unregistered equines (classified as ungulates). Consignments will be inspected on arrival in the EU, and we have been informed that registered horses will not need to be unloaded for identity and health inspections. Appointments must be booked with BCPs on arrival, and a full list of BCPs is available here.

Import requirements

New import requirements apply to live animals, including equines. These include the requirement for:

  • goods to be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate (EHC)
  • import pre-notifications submitted by the importer via IPAFFS at least one working day before the expected time of arrival at the point of entry. Further guidance can be found here.

This does not include the requirement for entry via an established point of entry with an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP), which will not come into force until July 2021.

From July 2021, importers will also need to enter the EU via an established point of entry with an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP), where goods may undergo identity and physical checks, if selected.

From 1 January, all equines will need to be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate (EHC). This will need to be secured by the exporter from the EU country of origin’s competent authority.

Those equines that represent a significant disease risk will be required to undertake pre-export blood testing and meet particular residency and isolation requirements, as part of this process.

Transporters will require Transporter Authorisation, driver/attendant Certificate of Competence, and a valid Vehicle Approval Certificate issued by the UK authorities. Applications for Journey Logs (where relevant) must be submitted to APHA for any journeys ending in or transiting through Great Britain, ahead of the journey taking place. Documents issued by an EU Member State are no longer valid for use in Great Britain.

From July 2021 all goods will need to enter Great Britain via an established point of entry with an appropriate BCP, where the goods may be subject to identity and physical checks, if selected. The British importer will also need to submit a pre-notification to the BCP via the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) in advance of the goods’ arrival. Further details can be found here.

Brexit webinar

At the end of 2020, British Equestrian hosted a live webinar with for the riders on the World Class Programme, where John McEwen, Jan Rogers, Henry Bullen and Fiona McCormack covered the situation as it stood at the time. New details have since emerged, but many parts are still applicable. An updated webinar will be provided once we have secured further details from the relevant authorities. 


British Equestrian has prepared a series of resources to help you. We recommend printing out copies of the infographic poster and pre-travel checklist, and keeping them in your tack room or yard office so that you can tick off each step as you complete them. Please be aware that these resources relate to travelling FEI-registered horses – shortly, we will be adding resources relating to non-registered horses. 


Pre-travel checklist

Further information

GOV.UK - Exporting horses to the the EU and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021

GOV.UK - Special rules for exporting horses and ponies

GOV.UK - Border Operating Model