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 D: Veterinarians
This section is designed to assist veterinary surgeons with understanding of the requirements for horse passports. It is not an exhaustive guide and is not a legal document. In case of doubt, please refer to The Equine Animal (Identification) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 and European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262 or consult your legal adviser.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Code of Professional Conduct sets out veterinary surgeons’ professional responsibilities and can be accessed here.
Vet steps when a passport is being applied for
1. Visibly and physically check the horse for any marks and signs of previous indentification and scan the horse for previous microchips.
2. Insert the microchip parenterally under aseptic conditions between the poll and withers in the middle of the neck in the area of the nuchal ligamnet.
3. Before insertion of the microchip ensure the uniqueness of the code displayed by using the UKCED and/or ScotEquine chip checking facilities.
4. Check all the information on the application form is correct, complete the silhouette diagram if required and sign to confirm.
5. Give the completed application form back to the keeper to return to the PIO.
In Scotland vets will be able to check the food chain status of the animal (as recorded on the UKCED) against the horse’s microchip number. This will be useful in instances where a horse can be scanned for a microchip but no passport or ScotEquine card, (see below) is readily available.
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.
The 2019 Regulations require that in addition to the passport, all horses must be identified by the insertion of a microchip following birth. This should be done before applying for a passport. Any medications administered to a horse before the passport is issued must be noted by the vet and retrospectively added to the passport upon issue of a passport.
Only vets are authorised to perform the insertion of a microchip into a horse in the UK. Before implanting the microchip, the vet is required to ensure that the horse has not been previously identified. The vet will scan the horse for existing implanted microchips and look for any scars made by previous procedures to either implant or remove a microchip. If the vet finds evidence of an existing microchip, the new microchip will not be inserted. The vet will advise the keeper of the existing microchip number(s) and the keeper should request the PIO to carry out checks of their records to ascertain if the horse has been previously issued with a passport.
The microchip shall be implanted parenterally under aseptic conditions between the poll and withers in the middle of the neck in the area of the nuchal ligament. The vet must ensure the uniqueness of the microchip code before insertion. Microchips must comply with ISO standard 11784 and ISO standard 11785. The vet must use the chip checking facilities available to them through the UKCED.
Microchipping of older animals
With effect from 28 March 2021 it will be a legal requirement that all horses must be microchipped, have a passport and be registered with a PIO.
The vet will scan the horse for existing implanted microchips and look for any scars made by previous procedures to either implant or remove a microchip. If the vet finds evidence of an existing microchip, the new microchip will not be inserted. The vet will advise the keeper of the existing microchip number(s) and the keeper should request the PIO to carry out checks of their records to ascertain if the horse has been previously issued with a passport.
The microchip shall be implanted parenterally under aseptic conditions between the poll and withers in the middle of the neck in the area of the nuchal ligament.
In Section II Part II of the passport, there is a declaration to indicate if the horse is not intended for slaughter for human consumption. Part II Section IX in pre-2016 issued passports are different in that they require a signature to confirm that either the animal is intended for human consumption or that the animal is not intended for human consumption. If this declaration is not signed, the horse is to be treated as though it is intended for human consumption.
In certain circumstances the declaration must be signed to declare the horse as not intended for slaughter for human consumption. Declarations that indicate that a horse is ‘not intended for slaughter for human consumption’ cannot be reversed.
Veterinary Medicines/Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) website
Information on the veterinary medicines authorised for the treatment of horses is available on the Product Information Database on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/check-animal-medicine-licensed.
This database provides essential information on veterinary medicines authorised for use in horses and should be read carefully and checked frequently since it is updated on a monthly basis. The database has a predefined search for medicines for use in food-producing horses. Further information on veterinary medicines for horses can be found on GOV.UK:
Horses requiring veterinary treatment
Prior to any horse being administered with a veterinary medicine, the attending vet should be shown the passport. If the passport is unavailable then the vet should be shown the ScotEquine card which is linked to ScotEquine, this will show the food chain status of the horse. The vet must first be satisfied that the horse is the one described in the passport/ScotEquine card. If there is any doubt, the vet should try to resolve the differences with the owner. If the issue of identification cannot be resolved and the vet remains unconvinced that the animal to be treated is the animal described in the passport, he/she should treat the horse as if it has no passport or has a passport without Section II pages (see paragraph D for details).
If the vet is satisfied that the horse is the one described in the passport, the action the vet then takes will depend on the treatment the horse requires and which declaration, if any, has been signed at Section II (see paragraphs A-D).
A. Declaration signed: horse is intended for human consumption (only applies to horses with passports issued prior to 1 July 2009
Guidance on medicines which can be administered to a horse which is intended for human consumption can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/horse-medicines-and-recording-keeping-requirements
B. Declaration signed: horse is not intended for human consumption
- the vet may treat the horse with any authorised veterinary medicine, or with any other medicines under the prescribing cascade, where a suitable authorised veterinary medicine is not available. There is no need to record any treatment, other than vaccinations, because declarations signed to the effect that the horse is not intended for human consumption cannot be reversed.
C. Passport present but not signed
- since it is still possible that the horse being treated could ultimately be slaughtered for human consumption, vets must record in Section II Part III (Part II Section IX in pre-2016 issued passports) of the passport any use of “essential substances” including the date of the last treatment. The horse must be excluded from the food chain if it is administered with any substances which would deem the animal unfit for human consumption.
D. Passport not present or does not contain Section II
For circumstances where the passport is not immediately available, such as:
- the animal is a foal and a passport is not yet required;
- the horse being exercised when it required medical attention and the passport is at the owner’s home premises;
- the passport has been returned to the PIO for updating;
- a passport has been applied for, but not yet received;
- the passport is lost and a replacement has been applied for but not yet received;
- the horse is cared for by a charity or welfare organisation (in which case it is not expected to have a passport until it has a new owner); or
- the owner is wilfully not complying with the legal requirements.
Whatever the reason for the missing passport, vets should still treat the horse but should not administer any non-essential substances unless absolutely necessary for the welfare of the horse.
- Vets must record in their own clinical records the medicines administered and maintain that record. A copy of the relevant written entry must be passed to the person in charge of the horse. If the product administered contains a non-essential substance, this must also be noted in the records and copied to the person in charge of the horse. This record copy must also state that when the passport is available, the declaration at Section II must be signed ‘not for human consumption’.
- When the passport is available, it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that it is updated in accordance with the written record copy provided by the vet.
- Phenylbutazone is neither listed in Table 1 nor has been included in Table 2 of Regulation (EU) 37/2010. This means that, whilst not a banned active ingredient, it cannot be used in food producing animals.
- The VMD has authorised the use of products containing phenylbutazone as an active ingredient, but the use is restricted to non-food horses only.
- Horses that have been treated with phenylbutazone must not enter the food chain and their passports must be signed by the owner or vet at Part II of Section II (Part II Section IX in pre-2016 issued passports) to indicate that the animal is not intended for human consumption.
Passports for foals
A foal does not require to be identified until the later of either 31 December of the year of its birth, or within 6 months following the date of its birth. Vets treating a foal which does not yet have a passport should proceed as detailed in the first and second bullet points at paragraph D. Owners should retain the information provided by the vet until such time as a passport is obtained and the information can be transferred as appropriate.
This advice has been prepared in consultation with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British Veterinary Association, the British Equine Veterinary Association and the VMD.
The VMD can be contacted on 01932 336911 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If further clarification on medicines is required information can be found on the VMD webpage.
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