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Travelling to Europe



Updated 25.01.24

Here is the latest guidance for moving equines between Great Britain and the EU. British Equestrian’s recommendation is that you use an established and experienced professional shipper to help you with the requirements and documentation needed for your move, the details of which are constantly evolving.

Preparing to export horses to the eu and northern ireland

The UK has 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.

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

To generate the export health and customs certificates or documents you need, we strongly advise that you contact an established shipper, even if you plan to transport the horse yourself.

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 (economic activity) transporter wishing to transport live animals into the EU will need to obtain new transport documentation issued by one of the EU27 Member States.

The British Showjumping website has details of a partner who can provide advice.

Great Britain-issued vehicle and transporter authorisations 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.

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.

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. 

Find export health certificates here.

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 notifing 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 horses registered with a national branch of an international body for sporting and competition purposes, such as the FEI)

Further information regarding testing can be found here.

Residency and isolation requirements 

Before you export 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 it

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 30 days
  • since its entry into Great Britain, if the horse was imported or moved directly from the EU, Northern Ireland or country of similar health status less than 30 days before you export it

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

Locations/premises from which horses depart for export into the EU must have a CPH number. Equine keepers in Wales should register for a CPH through Manage My CPH on RPW Online.

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).

At Border Control Posts, consignments will have documentary, identification and heath checks inspected on arrival in the EU, this sometimes involves unloading.

Import requirements

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

  • an Export Health Certificate (EHC) from the exporter at the EU country of origin’s competent authority
  • 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 information can be found in the PDF below...

APHA Import of Equidae

Until October 2024, there will be no Border Control Posts for horses entering the UK. Horses will continue to be liable for inspection at destination.

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.

For detailed information, please see the latest version of the Border Operating Model.

Brexit Webinar

At the end of 2020, we hosted a live webinar with for the riders on our 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. 

Customs and Taxes

Customs and taxes can be avoided for temporary exports - ie horses crossing borders. The equine sector is trying to develop a mechanism which works better but in the meantime there are two choices:

1) You can pay a bond, which reflects the value of the goods being exported, which you can claim back when the horse returns. Money can remain with the Government for three months or more. British Equestrian advise anyone wishing to pursue this option to call a shipper to advise. The Thoroughbred sector uses bonds more than the sports sector, which mainly uses Carnets.

2) You can get an ATA Carnet. A carnet costs a fee and you can put the horse and the kit on the one carnet and you can use it multiple times for up to a year. This reflects the best value for most competitors who are going backwards and forwards to the EU during a season. 

Please note: you cannot use a Duplicate List because horses cannot be carried in baggage! 

Importing/returning horses to the uk 

Summary changes to imports of horses from November 2023 - Get ready for CHED

1.     When you log into IPAFFS (Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System) you will now be asked to complete a CHED (Common Health Entry Document - Part 1) in place of the old Import (IMP) notification. This is for people moving hoses from EU/EFTA/EEA countries to Great Britain.

2.    If you are not already using IPAFFS, register here.

3.      Import notifications must be submitted on IPAFFS one working day before the horses arrive in Great Britain.

4.      This is the same as is currently needed for import notifications for non-EU countries, bringing the two processes together.

5.      Some sections of the CHED import notification are identical to the IMP import notification you currently make. Other sections are formatted differently or require further information that you will already have within your horse’s Entry Health Certificate (EHC), and the transport information from the exporter.

6.      Any IMP import notifications you made before 2 November for horses arriving into Great Britain from EU/EEA/EFTA after 2 November will still be accepted – you do not need to take any additional action.

7.      Watch the 30 minute APHA You Tube step by step walkthrough video for more help.

*Note* EU/EFTA/EEA origin horses will continue to be checked at destination until at least October 2024. From this point checks will move to Border Control Posts and more advice will follow on these changes.

Further information

GOV.UK: Exporting Horses & Ponies to the EU and Northern Ireland

How to renew UK transporter authorisations

If you have any questions about the import/export process, please email Jan Rogers.