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New Equine Identification Rules for England

On 1 October 2018, the Equine Identification (England) Regulations 2018 come into force replacing the Horse Passports Regulations 2009. These come hot on the heels of the long-awaited Central Equine Database, which became fully operational earlier this year, and which makes it far easier to obtain accurate information on abandoned horses or ponies, or those with welfare concerns.

Where an equine is already microchipped and has a valid Horse Passport issued in the UK, that will in most cases be enough to satisfy the new rules. There are, however, a number of significant changes, including the requirement for all equines to be microchipped regardless of age. Previously, this only applied to those born after 2009.

In summary the new regulations provide for the following:

  • A person must not keep a horse or other equine unless it has been identified in accordance with the regulations.
  • The owner must apply to an issuing body for an ID, within 6 months of birth or by 30 November of that year, whichever is the later.
  • If the owner believes that any of the identity details require modification or updating, then the owner must notify the issuing body.
  • Where an equine is being treated by a veterinary surgeon, the owner (or, if the owner does not have primary day-to-day responsibility, the keeper) must provide the veterinary surgeon with the ID upon reasonable request and without delay.
  • Where the equine has not previously been microchipped (or if the microchip has stopped working) the owner (or keeper) must arrange for that to be done by a veterinary surgeon. For horses born on or before 30 June 2009 this only applies from 1 October 2020.
  • An equine must be accompanied by its ID or (a “smartcard” if available) whenever it is moved or transported.
  • The exceptions that previously applied to certain wild ponies (on Dartmoor, Exmoor, the New Forest and Wicken Fen) continue as before.

Breach of the regulations by an owner or keeper is an offence, punishable on conviction by an unlimited fine. Under the new rules, instead of prosecution, a local authority may issue a compliance notice, and if that is not complied with (or it is not reasonably practicable to issue one) may impose a financial penalty of up to £200. It may also require the offender to pay the costs reasonably incurred. These can include not only investigation and administration costs, but also the costs of obtaining expert and legal advice.

For advice on the new regulations or equine identification issues, please contact Tim Ryan on 01732 770660 or email [email protected].

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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