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Microchipping and Passport Requirements for Horses

In June 2004 'Horse Passport Regulations 2004' came into effect making it a requirement for all horses to have a passport.

In July 2009 new regulations came into effect making microchipping mandatory for all new passport applications. These rules are in place for important reasons including horse health and welfare. Failure to comply is treated as an offence.

Passports for horses

Horse passports were introduced in 2004 to help reduce the risk of a ban being introduced on numerous veterinary medicines currently used for treating horses. These medicines are essential for our horses welfare (e.g. phenylbutazone ('bute')) but should not enter the food chain.

Every horse must have its own passport whether or not it is expected to travel.  There is a declaration within the passport to determine whether the horse will ultimately end up in the human food chain. As soon as the declaration is signed by an owner it cannot be reversed and the horse will never be allowed into the human food chain. A vet will need to see the passport and check the declaration has been signed before giving the horse certain medications.

Microchipping your horse

Microchipping enables individual horses to be uniquely identified by anyone with an appropriate scanner.

A microchip scanner can read a microchips unique number, thus providing a means of identifying the horse being scanned.
A microchip scanner can read a microchips unique number, thus providing a means of identifying the horse being scanned.

The microchip is a small integrated circuit encased in medical grade glass, no bigger than a grain of rice. It is inserted via a needle into the nuchal ligament of the neck from the left hand side. It is virtually impossible to remove even under surgical conditions.

The microchip is programmed with a unique number which can be read by a radio scanner. When the microchip is inserted your veterinary surgeon will then ask you to fill out a form with all of your and your horse's relevant information. This information is then stored on a database along with your horse's number. In any situation where the horse needs to be identified the database can be contacted and your details retrieved.

If a horse has not been previously issued with a passport it will require a microchip before a passport can be applied for.

Foals born since 1st August 2009 must be microchipped and have a passport issued before they are six months old or by 31 December in the year they are born, whichever is later.