Horse passports: guidance for owners, keepers, veterinarians and local authorities 2020

This guidance is designed to assist in understanding the requirements for horse passports and specifically the duties/roles each of horse owners/keepers, veterinarians and Scottish local authorities in ensuring a horse is correctly identified throughout its lifetime.

Section C: Horse Owners/Keepers

This section is designed to assist people who own and/or keep horses to understand the requirements for horse identification. It is not an exhaustive guide and has no legal standing. In case of doubt, please refer to The Equine Animal (Identification) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 and the European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262 or consult your legal advisor.

Apply for a horse passport

All horse keepers must obtain individual passports for each horse they are responsible for. Passports must be obtained from an authorised Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) – this is a legal requirement.

Most PIOs are recognised breed societies and may only issue passports for a particular breed of horse, however, for horses that do not qualify for specific breed recognition, there are PIOs that will issue an identity passport to satisfy the legal requirement.

In Scotland, there are 5 PIOs approved by the Scottish Government. A list of these PIOs can be found in the Annex and other UK PIOs can be found using the link below.

Other UK Passport Issuing Organisations[10]

What is a horse passport?

It is a single lifetime identification document which records the identity of a horse and contains information about the horse including certain veterinary medicines administered to it. A horse passport is not an ownership document.

The passport which, unless otherwise provided by the issuing body or provided for in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262, shall remain the property of the issuing body that issued it.

Deadline for identification

A horse must be identified by the later of 31 December in the year of its birth, or within 6 months of its birth.

An application for a passport must be submitted to the PIO 30 days prior to the deadline for identification. PIOs must issue an application pack within 7 days of it being requested.

How to obtain a passport

The following information explains how to go about obtaining a passport for your horse. Passports are not issued by the Scottish Government, they are issued by authorised PIOs.

Points to consider before obtaining a passport (cost, silhouette etc.)

Before you decide from which PIO you wish to obtain a passport, there are a few points you may first wish to consider.

The cost of passports will be set by the PIO and could vary. It would therefore be advisable to check the cost of the passport with the PIO you are considering before submitting an application.

As part of your application you are required to provide a diagram (known as a silhouette) of your horse which accurately shows all distinguishing marks. It may be possible to complete this silhouette yourself if you obtain a passport from certain PIOs, but many PIOs require this be to done by a vet which could mean additional cost. It would be advisable to check these points with the PIO you are considering before submitting an application.

Application Process

1. The keeper of the horse will request an application from the PIO.

2. The PIO will send the application pack within 7 days of receiving the request. This pack will include the details of the requirements of the veterinarian.

3. The keeper will fill in the form with the assistance of their vet and send it back to the PIO.

4. The keeper will receive the passport within 30 days of the application being received by the PIO.

Microchipping will be carried out in addition to completing the silhouette. Please be aware that PIOs may insert a copy of a silhouette into your passport which has been scanned or photocopied from the original, provided by you. Therefore, on receipt of your passport, you should check the silhouette for accuracy and clarity and refer any problems back to the PIO as quickly as possible.

If you wish a passport to contain verified breed details you need to first check that the PIO you are considering can provide that service and that your horse is eligible for entry into the studbook of a breed society before submitting an application.

If you are the keeper or owner of a horse in Scotland but obtain a passport from elsewhere in the UK, as well as complying with the rules of your PIO, you are also subject to the legislative requirements of the 2019 Regulations.

Application forms and microchips

A PIO will issue an application form for a passport and before you submit the application, you must ensure your horse is implanted with a microchip.

You will also need to declare in the application whether the animal is intended for the human food chain. If your animal is declared in the passport as unfit for human consumption then that declaration is irreversible.

Only a vet can implant your horse with a microchip. The vet, before implanting a microchip, will be required to ensure that the horse has not already been identified by insertion of a microchip.

The passport application form must also be signed by the vet to confirm the information provided is correct. The PIO is responsible for making reasonable checks to ensure that any microchip number and silhouette provided in an application is completed correctly, legibly and the application has been signed by a vet[11].

Duplicate and replacement identification documents

When an application for a passport is late, the document has been lost, or if details in any existing passport are incorrect, the PIO will issue a duplicate or replacement document. In these circumstances, and before issue, the PIO will stamp and sign Part II of Section II of the duplicate or replacement document to declare that the horse is not intended for slaughter for human consumption.

Table summarising type of passport that is issued for late or lost passport applications:
Situation Duplicate Replacement
Late Application Issued if mother known, and has been issued with a passport Issued if mother not known
Lost Application Issued if horse can be identified by microchip or otherwise Issued if horse cannot be identified and there is no evidence that a passport has been issued previously for the horse
Competent Authority has proof details in existing passport are incorrect and do not match the corresponding equine animal Always issued N/A

When a passport is required

A valid passport should remain with the animal at all times (unless a ScotEquine card has been issued). For example, it should accompany the horse when it is moved for the purposes of competition or breeding, out of Scotland, on to the premises of a new keeper, for the purposes of receiving veterinary treatment and when it is moved to slaughter.

There are some limited exceptions to the requirement to hold a passport or a ScotEquine card. They are not required to accompany the animal when it is:

a) stabled or on pasture, and the identification document can be presented without delay by the keeper;

b) temporarily ridden, driven, led or taken to a place

i. in the vicinity of the holding so that the passport can be presented without delay; or

ii. to and from registered summer grazing grounds provided that the passport can be presented at the holding of departure;

c) unweaned and accompanying its dam or foster mare;

d) participating in a training or test of an equestrian competition or event which requires them to leave temporarily the training, competition or event venue;

e) moved or transported in an emergency situation relating to the horse or to the holding on which they are kept.

In addition, a horse may be moved for a period not exceeding 45 days without a passport if a temporary document has been issued (but not if being moved or transported for slaughter).

ScotEquine card

The 2019 Regulations permit the movement or transport of horses within Scotland without a passport if they are accompanied by a ScotEquine card. The ScotEquine card does not replace a passport. It is a robust ID card (containing statutory information) which can accompany a horse when it is being transported as an alternative to the paper passport. The ScotEquine card will facilitate access to additional information on ScotEquine, including food chain status, through a ‘QR’ (Quick Response) code. ScotEquine cards are an optional measure for keepers.

A horse cannot be moved to slaughter with a ScotEquine card. It must be accompanied by its passport. A horse cannot be bought or sold with only a ScotEquine card.

Movement and transport for slaughter

The passport must accompany horses for slaughter while they are moved or transported to the slaughterhouse.

Suspension of movement

An Official Veterinarian (OV) may suspend the validity of the passport for movement of horses in circumstances where a holding is subject to a prohibition order as a result of a disease outbreak, or where African horse sickness is present in a Member State or part of a Member State.

Importing and exporting

As international trade is a devolved matter guidance on the import[12] and export[13] of equine animals can be found on the webpages.

Updating identification documents

There is a legal requirement to keep the information in a horse’s passport up-to-date and correct, including ownership details and the food chain status of the animal.

Obligations of keepers who hold passports

The keeper of a horse must ensure that the following details in the passport are at all times
up-to-date and correct:

a) the status of the equine animal as regards its eligibility for slaughter for human consumption;

b) the microchip code;

c) the status as either a registered horse or a horse for breeding and production; and

d) the information on ownership.

Where there arises a need to update other details in the passport, the keeper should lodge the passport with the issuing body within 30 days of the event that led to those changes.

Temporary documents

Information in a horse’s passport must be kept up-to-date. The passport should be returned to the PIO who will normally complete any updates within 10 working days. If the PIO cannot update the passport within this timescale, they will issue a ‘temporary document’ which will allow the horse to be moved or transported throughout the UK for a period not exceeding 45 days.

If a horse receives medicinal treatment when the passport is unavailable, the passport should be updated retrospectively to reflect the treatment received. A vet will provide you with a written note detailing medications administered.

A horse cannot be moved to a slaughterhouse for slaughter for human consumption accompanied by a temporary document. It must be accompanied by a valid passport.

If during the 45 day period, the horse is to be moved out of the UK to a European Union country, or through an EU country to a third country, the temporary document must be accompanied by a health certificate – see Annex III of Council Directive 2009/156/EC.

Death or loss

In all cases of death or loss (including theft) of the horse, the keeper must return the passport to the PIO within 30 days indicating the date on which this occurred so that the PIO can invalidate the document and update their database. You may request that the PIO return the passport once it has been invalidated and if it is in keeping with the PIOs own procedures.

Horses requiring veterinary treatment

Prior to any horse receiving veterinary treatment, the keeper should show the passport to the vet. Depending on the treatment the horse receives the vet may need to sign Section II Part II (Part II Section IX in pre-2016 issued passports) irreversibly removing the animal from the human food chain.

If no passport is available, the vet must provide a written record of the treatment administered and this information should be entered in the passport as soon as possible.

When submitting an application for a passport for a horse you must notify the PIO of any veterinary product administered to that horse.

Where certain veterinary treatments are administered to the horse and those treatments lead to the horse being deemed not fit for human consumption, the vet responsible for any such treatment must update the passport to make clear that the horse is irreversibly removed from the human food chain. The vet should do so by completing and signing Section II Part II of the passport, and invalidating Part III of Section II of the passport. The keeper must lodge the passport with the PIO within 14 days of the date that Part II of Section II has been signed.

All vaccines administered must be recorded in the passport and certified by a vet regardless of whether or not the horse is intended for human consumption.

There is no legal requirement to record any other medicines in the passport of a horse if it has been signed out of the human food chain, other than vaccination records.

Slaughter for human consumption

A horse cannot be consigned for slaughter for human consumption unless it is accompanied by a valid passport and the declaration at Part II Section II (Part II Section IX in pre-2016 issued passports) shows that the animal is intended for slaughter for human consumption.

Whether or not the horse should be consigned for slaughter for human consumption should be detailed in the passport. The passport should match the records held on the UK Central Equine Database.

The medicinal record of the horse will be checked at the slaughterhouse to determine the animal’s suitability to enter the food chain and following slaughter, the invalidated passport must be returned to the PIO within a period of 30 days.


The UK Central Equine Database (UKCED) is operated by Equine Register[14] on behalf of Defra, in partnership with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Irish Government.

ScotEquine feeds all Scottish PIO data into the UKCED and in return is fed data back on horses where the owners have a Scottish postcode.

Upon creation of a new record/update to a record, PIOs should upload this information to ScotEquine within 1 week of the record being created.

Passports issued in EU Member States for horses kept at a UK address can be updated by any UK PIO which must notify the change of record to the non-UK PIO that issued the passport who then notifies the central database of the Member State where the animal was born.



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