Brexit: what we know about travelling horses to Europe after 1 January 2021

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Just 37 days remain until the end of the transition period for leaving the European Union, and if you work, ride, compete, travel or trade in Europe, a number of changes are coming – and soon. A number of arrangements are dependent on there being a free trade agreement in place when we leave and, if not, what third country status Britain will be given on 31 December.

Moving equines, whether permanently or temporarily and whether registered or unregistered, is expected to become much more detailed and costly with no trade agreement in place. It’s important to stress that any information is subject to change, but our aim is to give you time to become familiar with the requirements. Key areas of change are:

Documentation – horses will now require an Export Health Certificate (EHC), signed by an Official Vet (OV), and the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed Systems (IPAFFS) service must be notified of their movements

Disease testing – registered equines will require a blood test for equine infectious anaemia within 90 days of travel for temporary exports (such as attending a show). Uncastrated males will also require equine viral arteritis testing up to 21 days before travel unless they meet vaccination requirements. The rules and timings are different for unregistered equines.

Residency/isolation – registered horses must be resident in the UK or a country with equivalent health status for 40 days before departure.

Transporters and vehicles – UK authorisations and certificates will no longer be recognised, and new transport documentation will need to be arranged by one of the 27 EU member states.

Entry points – all horses must pass through a Border Control Post (BCP) in the EU with the correct documentation. Currently, there are six servicing the short channel crossings to France, which are authorised to accept registered horses.

We’ve prepared advice for those looking to compete horses with purple FEI recognition cards for sporting or competition purposes because we know the current position on this. For horses in general, we’re awaiting news on the approval of the UK’s equine stud books, which we’re hopeful will happen – this would mean that horses with a recognised passport would follow a similar process to FEI-registered horses. If approval is not given, and it’s not expected to happen before 1 January, these horses will require a government-issued ID document in addition to their passport, and other export documentation. We’ll provide more information on this in due course.

There’s a dedicated Brexit page on the British Equestrian website, which outlines the requirements and process you need to follow. We held a webinar a few weeks ago with our World Class athletes and officials to outline the changes, which is available for all to view, plus there’s an infographic summary of the main points and a useful checklist to help you prepare for a journey to Europe.

Key points of which you should be aware

  • We advise anyone looking to export a horse to Europe to avoid the first few weeks of January next year while the process beds in.
  • Even seasoned competitors/transporters would benefit from engaging with an approved shipper to help with the travel process for their first few visits to the continent post-Brexit.
  • Allow plenty of time to complete the additional paperwork and checks in the days and weeks before you set off, and plan your journey carefully to allow extra time for clearing your BCP where all horses will undergo documentary, ID and physical checks which means they will be unloaded.
  • Find an Official Veterinarian in your area and make an introduction – having a good relationship with them is key because they will need to certify your documents the day before you depart.
  • This information is current, but likely to change, so please check our Brexit page or with your member body before starting any travel arrangements.


British Equestrian – Brexit guidance including webinar, checklist and poster
GOV.UK – Exporting horses and ponies from 1 January 2021
GOV.UK – The Border Operating Model
GOV.UK – International road haulage from 1 January 2021
GOV.UK – Transport goods out of the UK by road: step-by-step