Microchipping your horse

Following the introduction of compulsory passports for all horses, all foals born must now be microchipped before an owner can apply for an equine passport.

A microchip is a small implant, about the size of a grain of rice, which contains a unique serial code. It is inserted, via an injection, into the ligament on the left side of the horse’s neck. This is a none painful method of permanent identification. It is a quick and easy procedure that must only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon.

The horse owner’s details and a unique serial code are stored on a computerised database, which links the owner to the horse – it can be read easily by an electronic microchip reader. It is therefore important that the owner’s details on the database are kept up to date.

Check if your horse is microchipped by:
• looking at its passport
• asking a vet to scan your horse for a microchip

If your horse does not have a microchip, you must:
• get a vet to microchip it
• update the passport

In England, you can be fined if your horse is not microchipped.

We offer microchipping as a routine procedure which can be done on zone visits at a reduced call out fee.

Horse passports

You must, by law, have a horse passport for each animal if you keep any of the following:
• horses
• ponies
• donkeys and asses
• zebras
• mules or other hybrids

The passport is a document that:
• describes the animal, for example by breed, colour, species
• lists all vaccinations
• names the registered owner

Truly wild native ponies are an exception, you only need a passport for semi-wild ponies. Ie, if they are not free to roam. (for example, if you sometimes keep them enclosed on your land) or you have them treated by a vet.

You must keep a valid horse passport with your animal at all times. You need to provide your horse’s passport:
• when a vet examines or treats your animal - the medication your animal can get depends on how it’s categorised on its passport
• if an animal health inspector, trading standards inspector or other enforcement officer asks to see it
• when you sell or give the animal to someone else

You could get a fine if you cannot show a valid horse passport for an animal in your care. The passport must be made available within three hours of it being requested by an enforcement agency.

When buying a horse you must contact the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) within 30 days to update the passport ownership details. If the seller does not give you the horse’s passport, contact your local trading standards office for advice.
If your horse dies, within 30 days of the horse’s death, return its passport to the PIO that issued it. They will update their records and invalidate or destroy the passport. If the passport has been invalidated you may be able to get it sent back to you. Ask the PIO if this is possible.

In addition, passport details, such as the Unique Equine Life Number, are often required by insurance companies when insuring your horse.

Under the legislation, foals must have a passport and microchip within six months of birth or before 31 December of the year in which they were born, whichever date occurs later.

In order to obtain a passport, a vet must complete the relevant application form for your chosen PIO, check for an existing microchip (and insert one if required) and draw the horses markings. The PIO will send you the completed passport and upload your horses’ details to the central equine database. If you have no preference of PIO we will, by default, apply to the horse passport agency for all new passports.

If you lose your passport a vet will need to attend your horse to verify its identity by scanning the microchip and re-drawing your horse.

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