U.K. Associations Back Equine Passport Program

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) last week expressed support for revised equine passport program regulations presented before Parliament on May 20. United Kingdom horse owners should have applied for a passport 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 United Kingdom, are sold, or are presented for slaughter.

The 2003 passport regulations were amended to improve clarity, address technical legal points raised by a committee of Parliament, and reflect concerns expressed by some welfare organizations. Originally, the June 30 deadline was for obtaining a passport, but it was changed to a deadline for applying for the passport to avoid a "bottleneck in the event of a last-minute surge of applications near the deadline," according to the U.K.'s Department for Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs (Defra). Additionally, there was a change to when the declaration of whether or not the horse is ultimately intended for human consumption has to be signed. 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, is sent for slaughter for human consumption, or before administering any drugs forbidden in food animals.

According to Defra, "Signing the ‘not intended' declaration removes any option of slaughtering the animal for food at a later point in its life, 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."

Andrew Finding, Chief Executive of the BEF, said, "The British Equestrian Federation welcomes the revised regulations and the consequent advantages which will be forthcoming for the British equine industry, including the now actual reality of developing a National Equine Database on the back of the passport regulations."

Alistair Barr, MA, VetMB, PhD, DVR, DEO, CertSAO, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, president of BEVA, said, "BEVA has publicly expressed broad support for the Horse Passport (England) Regulations 2004 primarily as a means to guarantee the continued availability of vital equine medicines in the U.K."

Defra has approved 70 PIOs to which horse owners can apply for the appropriate documentation. Among the benefits of the passport scheme:

  • The U.K. will be in compliance with European legislation, which safeguards the U.K.'s right to use common horse medicines (for example, Bute), which play an essential role in protecting horse welfare; and
  • It 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.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More