On January 1, the UK left the EU with an agreed trade deal and what is termed 'third country' status.

The effect that this has had on travel of horses both to the EU and to Northern Ireland has been significant, with many more requirements than prior to Brexit.

Here's some of the salient points:

Horse documentation

All horses and ponies travelling to the EU and Northern Ireland from Great Britain require export health certificates (EHCs) signed by an official vet every time they make one of these journeys.

The EHC includes information on blood tests, UK residency and a declaration from the vet that the animal is fit to travel.

All horses and ponies being transported must also be accompanied by a passport issued either by an EU recognised studbook or by a national branch of an international competition organisation (eg FEI). For those animals that do not have these passports, a government-issued supplementary travel ID must be applied for.

Blood tests

Blood samples must be taken from horses that are travelling to the EU, or Northern Ireland to test for equine infectious anaemia (EIA) and, in the case of entire males over 180 days, equine viral arteritis (EVA).

Blood sampling for EIA must take place within 30 days of travel for permanent export and within 90 days for temporary export, for example horses going to stud, or competing and blood sampling for EIA within 21 days of export for any reason.

It can take several days to get a result from the lab, so we advise that this be undertaken at least one week before the expected export date.


Horses and ponies must be resident in the UK for at least 90 days on a holding which is under veterinary supervision, prior to travel.

‘Under veterinary supervision’ means that the owner or manager of the holding is registered with a veterinary practice which can vouch that these requirements have been met.

There are some exceptions to these rules for horses that have arrived into the UK from within the EU in the last 90 days and for registered horses undergoing temporary export for sports or competition, where the period is reduced to 40 days.

Horses being exported must also be isolated from horses that do not fulfil these requirements for at least 30 days before export, for example horses brought onto the premises from non-EU countries.


Transporters should always check the latest advice from the Department of Transport as here, again, specific requirements are in place, including EU recognised transporter authorisation, certificates of competence and vehicle approval certificates.

Whilst these changes have made export of horses and ponies to the EU and Northern Ireland more complex, the main thing to remember is to give yourself plenty of time for the necessary blood tests and paperwork, and also to engage the services of a professional equine transportation agency.

These agencies will often be able to organise the logistics and the legal requirements necessary, as should any aspect not be correct there is every likelihood that your horse will not be permitted to leave GB.

* These rules and regulations are under constant revision. Up to date guidance can be found at the APHA website (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/export-horses-and-ponies-special-rules) or speak to your vet about your individual needs.