Work ongoing to clarify post-Brexit horse movement *H&H Plus*

  • New rules came into force affecting anyone transporting horses from the UK to EU on 1 January. H&H speaks to those affected, and those working hard to clarify what these mean in real terms

    WORK to untangle the new rules that have come to light now Britain has left the EU is ongoing, as those moving horses abroad seek clarity on requirements.

    The Brexit transition period ended on 31 December, but certain essential documents could not be obtained before the end of 2020, as Britain was still a member of the EU. On 1 January, certain UK documentation was no longer recognised by EU states.

    The full extent of who the new rules will apply to is to be clarified, in terms of private boxes and transporting for business, but they do apply to transport companies.

    Fred Parker, of John Parker International Horse Transport, spoke to H&H on Monday (11 January) as he prepared to send six empty boxes to Belgium to obtain the approval certificates UK trucks need to transport horses for business in the EU.

    “We couldn’t do that before 1 January as Britain was still an EU country. If we could have done it before, we are there every week and could easily have arranged for checks to be done then,” said Mr Parker, adding that a “conservative estimate” puts the cost around £1,500 per box.

    The company’s first post-Brexit export was on 8 January – using a Dutch vehicle with horses heading to jump in Spain – to test border control procedures, which went smoothly. The company, which has been operating since 1977, has huge experience in dealing with import and export requirements for different countries, which Mr Parker said are not a problem.

    An issue is the lack of clarity and consistency, which he hopes will be resolved quickly.

    “We just want somebody to say, ‘Right, this is what you need to do,’ then everyone can just get on and do it,” he added.

    The company is fielding enquiries for horses heading to the Spanish showjumping tours, whose riders are planning to drive out separately in their own, empty lorries, to get the vehicle approval so they can move horses abroad themselves in future.

    Negotiations are continuing, with involvement from Defra, British Equestrian, the British Horseracing Authority, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the British Horse Council, and the situation is changing rapidly.

    Horse Trust director of research and policy Jan Rogers, who is among those working to unpick the situation as quickly as possible, told H&H on 8 January that they have more answers and are in a better position to speak to their EU counterparts since the EU (Future Relationship) Bill was signed on 30 December.

    “The biggest outstanding matter is mutual recognition of vehicle and transporter authorisation and certificates of professional competence [CPC], although some providers in Ireland and Belgium now offer online CPC training,” she said.

    She stressed that negotiations mean the situation is constantly changing, and the bodies above are working with the FEI and International Horse Sports Confederation to seek to secure short and longer-term solutions for vehicle and transporter authorisation in the equine sector as soon as possible.

    Ms Rogers added on 11 January that Defra has advised there is no dispensation planned for the rules on transporter authorisation, and those involved are focusing on how this can be achieved, for UK transporters of different sizes. This means British transporters need to apply for EU authorisations, and vice versa.

    News of Eurotunnel price hikes have been circulating on social media. H&H put the claims of an increase in fares for horseboxes travelling via Eurotunnel and a new £325/horse surcharge to the company.

    A spokesman confirmed the Folkestone to Calais increase, stating that new vet controls are now required on equines entering the EU from the UK.

    “Consequently, to provide an equivalent service to that offered in the past, Eurotunnel has had to build new infrastructure to accommodate veterinary controls,” he said. “We are convinced the process and facilities will provide the best possible conditions for equine transport under the new arrangements.”

    Insurance concerns

    ANYONE travelling abroad with horses, for business or otherwise, is strongly advised to check with their insurers well in advance.

    This must be done anyway for drivers to obtain a green card, proof they have the minimum insurance cover required by the country they are driving in.

    There is positive news that the European health insurance card (EHIC) has been replaced with the global health insurance card (GHIC), which means holders will still be treated in the EU in a medical emergency, but this is not a substitute for valid insurance.

    The pandemic, Foreign Office advice and rules of the country you are in may also impact on insurance validity. Anyone travelling for essential reasons should check Foreign Office advice and with insurers beforehand.

    You might also be interested in…