Brexit: implications for horse owners under the spotlight

Leading equestrian organisations have been working together to establish how horse transport to Europe will be managed when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March.

While Parliament continues to negotiate Brexit, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, along with organisations across horse sport, racing and the veterinary profession, have been deciding what action needs to be taken if the UK leaves with no deal.

In a statement, the BEF said that the “chief concern for horse owners will be transportation” and that the groups have been focused on establishing the documentation and health certifications that will be required.

In the event of a no-deal exit, all horses leaving the UK to enter the EU will need a new type of export health certificate (EHC), which would require blood tests signed off by an official veterinarian (OV) to confirm it is free from disease. EHCs would last 10 days and would accompany the horse and its horse passport. Requirements for movements to the rest of the world remain largely unchanged.

It will also be necessary to develop a new type of equine travel ID which the BEF said would be required alongside a horse passport “for horses which do not have studbook passports or are not registered with an international body which governs sport or racing, such as the FEI.”

A system will also need to be put in place to take over from the EU’s movements recording database (TRACES) to enable the UK to keep its own horse movement records.

The new requirements will involve ensuring there are enough OVs, as well as other experts and specialists, to carry out health inspections, take blood tests and produce EHCs.

Evidence will also need to be submitted to the EU to establish the UK’s “health status” so that we can be granted a “third country status category”, which will establish which blood tests will be required to move horses across the border.

There is also expected to be an effect on transport authorisations, certificates of competence and vehicle approval certificates as well as new delays at Channel crossing points and the need for more border inspection posts both in the UK and the EU.

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BEF chief executive Nick Fellows said: “The terms of the UK’s departure from the EU have not yet been confirmed but, given the serious implications for equestrian sport, we have been working closely with the relevant authorities.

“As soon as the situation becomes clearer the BEF will inform its members so that horse owners will be aware of actions they may need to take.”

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