All equine animals including horses, ponies and donkeys must have passports. The rules on the identification of equine animals help to protect the food chain.
When equines must be registered
All equines born in the EU must be identified and issued with a passport no later than 12 months from their date of birth. Adult horses must have a passport.
All equines issued with a passport must have a corresponding micro-chip inserted by a veterinary surgeon. Passports must accompany horses, ponies and donkeys whenever they are moved. All equine animals born in, or imported into, the European Union are required to be identified in accordance with equine identification legislation.
Unweaned foals accompanied by the dam or foster mare can be moved and transported without a passport. However, in order to ensure that the 12 month deadline can be met, you must submit a completed application form for a passport for your equine to an appropriate approved passport issuing organisation not later than 6 months from the date of the animal’s birth.
Any animal issued with a passport later than 12 months from the date of the animal’s birth must be issued with a duplicate/replacement passport only. These animals are automatically excluded from the food chain and will be stamped as excluded from the food chain. The Department has issued detailed advice on equine passport regulations
Fines for breaking identification law
The keeper of the equine, who may or may not be the owner, is responsible for ensuring that the equine is identified. A person who keeps an unidentified equine commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €5,000.
To comply with the rules, you must get a vet to complete an official marking chart and to implant a transponder into the neck area of the animal. Submit the completed marking chart and details of the transponder in an application form to an appropriate approved equine passport issuing organisation (listed below) when applying for a passport for the animal.
The premises at which the equine is to be kept must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and this premises registration number (PRN) must be supplied to the passport issuing organisation, with the application for an equine passport. Applications for premises registration numbers (PRNs) are processed in the Department’s Regional Offices.
What identification involves
Proper identification is comprised of 4 elements, all of which must be in place within 12 months of the date of birth of the animal. These are:
a single lifetime identification document (passport) containing a unique lifetime identification number (UELN) in respect of the animal, issued by an approved issuing body
the implantation in the equine, by a practising vet, of a suitable electronic transponder, the unique number of which is recorded on the corresponding passport
a database recording of specific identification data in the database of the issuing body that issued the passport
a database entry in the central equine database of the country where the issuing passport issuing organisation is approved
The administration of veterinary medicinal products to an equine is recorded at Section II of the passport. Where an equine is not intended for slaughter for human consumption, the signed declaration to this effect is recorded at Part II of Section II of the passport.
Cost of registration
The cost of registration will vary. It will consist of a combination of the fees charged by the veterinary practitioner identifying the animal, the approved passport issuing body processing and issuing the document, as well as any additional costs such as DNA verification incurred as part of the registration process for stud book animals.
Once issued, a passport is valid for the lifetime of the horse. The keeper must ensure that any changes to the information submitted at the time of application for a passport must be notified to an appropriate Irish passport issuing organisation, for onward notification to the central database. This includes any changes to the ownership of the animal.
It is an offence for a keeper not to inform an appropriate passport issuing organisation of any relevant changes to the identification data contained in an equine passport within 30 days of the date of the event.
All changes to equine ownership must be notified to an appropriate passport issuing organisation for onward notification to the central database. You cannot sell your horse without it being identified correctly and you are in possession of the passport issued by an approved passport issuing organisation.
A horse must always be accompanied by its passport, whether moving within Ireland or moving out of the country.
Where to get the passport
There are currently seven passport issuing organisations approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to maintain studbooks and to issue passports for registered equines (with pedigree – eligibility for entry into a studbook).
A list of the organisations approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to issue equine passports, as at July 2016, is contained in the following table. The passport issuing organisation will advise you of the steps necessary to identify an equine.
Passport issuing organisation
Approved to issue passports for studbook equines
Approved to issue passports for Equines for Breeding and Production