The following items are being proposed as changes to the current passport legislation. Horse owners are invited to comment on these proposals using the contact information at the end of this article. All comments must be received by 2 February 2009.

ISSUE

  • After 1 July 2009 foals must be microchipped by 31 December in the year of its birth, or six months from its date of birth, whichever is later
  • If a horse is microchipped, a silhouette is no longer required by law, but will be at the discretion of the PIO
  • PIOs will be required to issue temporary documents which are valid for 45 days when passports are return for updates, unless they are turned around with 72hr.
  • If a duplicate passport is applied for an adult horse after 1 July 2009, the vet/PIO must first check for an existing microchip, and it is proposed that any passport must be signed out of the food chain
  • It will be an offence for a horse to go to a slaughterhouse without a passport
  • It is proposed that only vets can insert microchips

TRANSPORT AND HOLDING OF PASSPORT

  • The primary carer of the horse will now be required to ensure the horse is correctly identified and produce the passport without delay when required
  • If a horse is taken from the premises where it lives by foot (ie a hack) the passport must be provided within three hours if requested
  • If a horse is taken anywhere in a vehicle it must be accompanied by the passport — except when moved in an emergency — even if for just a hack or lesson.
  • If a horse is competing/hunting and will leave the competition venue/meet, the passport is not required to accompany the horse and may remain in the horsebox
  • New section of passport for an outbreak of African Horse Sickness/exotic notifiable disease that can be signed by a vet to prevent movement of the horse if movement order is enforced on the holding. This has to be re-certified if lifted.

DEATH/TREATMENT

  • Upon death of the horse, the passport must be returned to the issuing authority, who will stamp it invalid and cancel the microchip.
  • If the horse is going into the food chain, the microchip must be removed
  • If a vet is treating a horse without a passport, they must treat it as if it was going for human consumption, unless they know the horse and is aware its status is “not for human consumption”

PENALTIES

  • Defra is proposing its local animal health officers are added to enforcement bodies, which are currently Trading Standards and Meat Hygiene Standards
  • The police are granted no enforcement powers under this legislation
  • Defra is currently discussing penalties with lawyers — currently offences carry a fine of up to £5,000

DEROGATION

  • There will still be derogation for semi-ferals on Dartmoor and New Forest. If a pony is moved for sale, it will require a rump sticker and passport application. If a pony is moved for slaughter, it will require a passport and rump sticker unless under 12 months of age, when it can go from moor to slaughter within 48hr with neither.

For a copy of the consultation document or to comment, visit www.defra.gov.uk/rural/horses e-mail: Horse.Passports@defra.gsi.gov.uk, tel 020 7238 6039 or by mail: Horse Passports Team, Area 5A, 9 Millbank, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, LONDON, SW1P 3JR. Comments much be received by 2 February 2009.