Defra has a close interest in the health and welfare of horses as with other animal species.
All horse owners need to obtain a passport for each horse they own. This includes ponies, donkeys, and other equidae. Foals and adult horses identified after 31 July 2009 must be implanted with a microchip prior to passport applications being made for them. Horses cannot be moved without their passports except in special circumstances e.g. where owners take their horse on a short hack/ride.
- Horse passports – why you need them and what they contain
- Getting a horse passport
- Updating a horse passport and cancelling duplicates
Passport issuing organisations
- Organisations that manage studbooks and are authorised to issue horse passports (PDF 480 KB)
- Organisations that do not manage a studbook but are authorised to issue horse passports (PDF 280 KB)
Health and welfare, diseases
If you have a specific query regarding your horse or pony’s health or welfare, you should contact your vet.
The health and welfare of animals is central to Defra’s work of protecting and improving livestock and controlling and eradicating disease.
- Code of practice for the welfare of horses, ponies, donkeys and their hybrids
- Welfare of Animals During Transport – Advice for transporters of horses, ponies and other domestic equines
The following horse diseases are notifiable – Which means if you suspect signs of these diseases, you must immediately notify your local Animal Health office:
- Equine Infectious Anaemia
- Contagious Equine Metritis
- Epizootic Lymphangitis
- Equine Viral Encephalomyelitis
- Glanders (including Farcy)
- West Nile Virus
The Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987 makes these diseases compulsorily notifiable: it gives an inspector powers to declare an infected place where disease is suspected; to carry out a veterinary inquiry, prohibits the movement of horses carcases and other things onto or off the premises and requires cleansing and disinfection.
Council Directive 90/426 makes the following horse diseases compulsorily notifiable to the EU: Glanders , Dourine, Equine Encephalomyelitis (of all types, including Japanese Encephalomyelitis and West Nile Fever and Infectious anaemia.
Strategy for the horse industry in England and Wales
The Strategy has been developed by the British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC) in partnership with Government, and sets out a vision of where the industry aspires to be within ten years.
Facts and figures
The horse industry’s gross output is worth approximately £4 billion per year, and attracts around 4.3 million riders, and directly or indirectly employs up to a quarter of a million people. It plays an important part in the national and especially rural economies, the social fabric of rural communities, and environmental and land management.
The industry is highly diverse. It includes large-scale commercial activities such as racing and sport horses, the leisure and recreational use of horses, and ancillary activities like farriery, equine medicine, tack and feed supply.
- Commission regulation (EC) 504/2008 (PDF 360 KB)
- The Horse Passports Regulations 2009 (PDF 70 KB)
- Commission Decision 92/353/EEC
- Commission Decision 96/78/EC
- The Horses (Zootechnical Standards) (England) Regulations 2006
- Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987
- Importing and exporting a horse – when you need a horse passport
- Owning a horse
- Horses on farms – Information on horse manure, livery yards, welfare in transportation, fallen stock and breeding horses.
- National Equine Database (NED) – NED is the official UK National Equine Database of over 1 million horses with UK passports.
- Animal Welfare
- Horse Medicines
Contact Horse passports and zootechnics team:
Horse Passports Team
Area 5E, 9 Millbank
c/o Nobel House
17 Smith Square
Defra Helpline: 08459 33 55 77