U.K. Equine Passport Issuing Underway

United Kingdom horse owners should have applied for passports for their animals from one of the registered passport-issuing organizations (PIOs) by June 30. Beginning Feb. 28, 2005, passports must be presented whenever horses move from one premise to another, travel to competitions, are used for breeding, leave the U.K., are sold, or are sent to slaughter.

The 2003 passport regulations were amended to improve clarity and to address technical legal points raised by Parliament and concerns of welfare organizations. Originally, the June 30 deadline was for obtaining a passport, but it was changed to a passport application deadline to avoid a "bottleneck in the event of a last-minute surge of applications," according to the U.K.'s Department for Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs (Defra). Additionally, there was a change to the deadline for the declaration of whether or not a horse is ultimately intended for human consumption. The horse owner now can sign the declaration at any time after receipt of the passport, but must sign it before the horse is exported, sent for slaughter for human consumption, or administering any drugs forbidden in food animals.

According to Defra, "Signing the 'not intended' declaration removes any option of slaughtering the animal for food...and offering horse owners this new flexibility may help prevent potential welfare problems associated with animals nearing the end of their lives which cannot be sent to an abattoir. However, one consequence of this greater flexibility is that people administering medicines may need to record their use in more passports." Defra has approved 70 PIOs.

Benefits of the passport program include U.K. compliance with European legislation that safeguards the U.K.'s right to use common horse medicines (such as Bute), and vital information that will feed into the National Equine Database, which will allow access to reliable breeding and performance data, aid in disease control, discourage theft, and establish the size of the U.K. horse industry to assist in forecasting and research.

All passports must contain a written description and drawing of the horse. They are valid for a lifetime of the horse and the cost will depend on the PIO.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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