DEFRA’s latest letter to all passport issuing organisations (PIOs), clarifying the position further regarding identification, contains good news for horse owners and PIOs.
Until 30 June, a freeze-mark certificate, including a silhouette drawn at the time the mark was applied, can be accepted as ID. Owners producing this document can have this scanned into the passport, avoiding the extra cost of having the silhouette re-drawn. But only some PIOs plan to allow this method.
DEFRA has agreed to allow PIOs to do this, only “where that mark is cross-checked before the passport is issued against independent records and a silhouette created at the time the freezemark was applied; and only in respect of passports issued before 30 June 2004, and which carry both the freezemark and a Unique Equine Life Number issued by the PIO”.
DEFRA has also agreed to allow PIOs to scan into passports other forms of ID than vaccination certificates, provided they contain the same ID information and have been signed by a vet or competent person. Therefore, it seems that Joint Measurement Board certificates and five-stage vet certificates can be accepted. Again, this is up to each PIO.
Confusion still surrounds the interpretation of “competent authority”: theoretically, anyone apart from a vet who is allowed to complete the silhouette. DEFRA has tried to clarify this, saying that a PIO can authorise a competent person to sign the silhouette but the guidelines remain open to interpretation.
The PIO must be satisfied that the competent authority has “proven their competency to do the job and [be] trustworthy”. For example, a breeder, says DEFRA, could be such a person, but would have to “demonstrate to [the PIO’s] satisfaction that he has previously filled in silhouettes to a standard”. However, this does not entail the prospective “authority” having completed a compulsory number of silhouettes, and it is at the PIO’s discretion.
Although the deadline for owner-certified silhouettes has now passed, the backlog of applications means that many owners who applied before the deadline have still to receive their passports.
Alison Reeves, head of the horse passport and national equine database team, explains: “Where the application process was clearly underway before 1 February and the applicant has a legitimate expectation that an owner-signed silhouette will be accepted, such cases can be regarded as having met the deadline.”