call: 0333 577 0801
email: equine@vhs-passports.co.uk

Your questions answered

The following paragraphs contain your legal responsibilities as an Equine Passport Holder, and are brought to your attention.

Does my horse need a passport?

All horse owners must have a passport for their horses. The owner of a horse must obtain a passport for it on or before 31 December of the year of its birth or by six months after its birth, whichever is the later.

A horse cannot be sold without a passport (veterinary or breed certificates are not passports). When a horse is sold, the seller must give the passport to the buyer at the time of the sale and the buyer must register the new ownership within 30 days. If a horse dies or is slaughtered, the keeper must return the passport to the passport-issuing organisation within 30 days of the animal's death.

What is the penalty for not having a passport

As with all Government legislation, there are penalties that can be applied by the courts for non-compliance. These are a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum of £5,000 per offence or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or both.

I am the permanent keeper of a horse for example "On Loan" am I responsible for obtaining the passport?

No. It is the responsibility of the horse owner to obtain a passport. If a horse is on permanent loan, the keeper should hold the passport. The 'keeper' means a person who is not the owner of a horse, but is appointed by the owner to have day-to-day charge of that horse. There is no minimum age limit for applying for a horse passport but if you are under 18 years of age we will need the signature of a parent or guardian.

Who enforces the requirements for horse passports?

The Food Standards Agency are responsible for enforcing the checks carried out at slaughterhouses, and the Local Authorities (e.g. Trading Standards Departments) enforce the remainder of the legislation. As with all Government legislation, there are penalties that can be applied by the courts for non-compliance. These are: a fine to a maximum of £5000 for cases involving one to ten animals and a maximum fine of £1000 per animal for cases involving more than ten animals. Second offences can lead to a maximum of one month's imprisonment.

What is the purpose of the Medication Pages on the passport?

These pages were previously under Section IX and for all passports issued in 2016 will be under Section II.

These pages allow the owner to declare whether or not the horse is ultimately intended for human consumption. The declaration must be signed before:

  1. any medication containing a substance specified in Annex IV of Council Regulation 2377/90 is administered (in this case the declaration must be signed as "not intended for human consumption")
  2. the horse is sent outside the UK.

The owner can at any time prior to one of the above events choose to sign the declaration. It must be remembered that once the declaration has been signed as "not intended for human consumption", this can never be changed in order to protect the human food chain.

If a passport is issued for a horse that is no longer considered a foal the passport issuing organisation will automatically exclude it from the food chain by signing this section.

I am not happy with your service - What can I do?

We strive to ensure that you are extremely happy with our service at all times. Should you feel that we have let you down in anyway, you have the right to complain. In the first instance, you should explain your complaint to us via email at complaints@vhs-passports.co.uk. If you do not have access to email you can send a letter marked "Complaints Department" to the address shown on our contacts page.

Written confirmation will be given, using the same method as delivery, within one working day of receiving your complaint.

A full written response will be provided within 15 working days. If you are not happy with our response, you should notify us, and the relevant competent authority.

Where can I find further information about the passport regulations?

England: Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs

Scotland: The Scottish Government

Wales: Welsh Government

Northen Ireland: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development