All horses, ponies, donkeys and related animals (including zoo species like zebras) must have a horse passport, issued by a recognised passport-issuing organisation (PIO). Horse owners that do not have a passport for horses under their care, aged over 6 months, are committing an offence. Furthermore, horse owners are legally required to keep their horse’s passport on the same premises as their horse and ensure it accompanies their horse when travelling.
A horse passport is a small booklet that identifies your animal by its silhouette, height and species. It includes sections for veterinary treatments, movement history and a declaration as to whether or not your horse is intended for human consumption. This may seem like an odd declaration in the UK as horse meat is rarely consumed here; but it is of the utmost importance in other EU countries where horse meat is consumed more readily.
If the horse is declared as not intended for human consumption, only vaccines need to be documented in the passport. The vast majority of horses in the UK are considered to be in this category. Please note, a ‘not intended’ declaration cannot be reversed.
If the horse is declared as intended for human consumption OR the passport has no signature, certain medication cannot be given (e.g. ‘bute’) and other medication has to be documented in the passport.
Contrary to popular belief, if the passport is not signed either way, the horse is considered to be ‘intended for human consumption’.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to produce my passport before my vet administers specific medications?
When your horse needs prescription medication, Section IX of their passport should be checked by the treating vet. This is to safeguard the human food chain as specific medications are prohibited for use in animals that are intended for human consumption. If the declaration has been signed as ‘not intended for human consumption’, the medication can be administered, supplied or prescribed to the horse.
All horse owners must sign the declaration at part II of Section IX of the passport if medication unsuitable for entry into the food chain have been administered, supplied or prescribed. If the owner refuses to sign the declaration, the vet must do so.
If the vet is in attendance due to an emergency and the passport is not available, this denies their ability to verify the status of Section IX. Therefore, under the legislation, they can only administer medication that is approved for food producing animals.
Why has my horse’s passport been returned with Section IX complete?
The current legislation states that Section IX Part II of the passport must be signed by the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) to declare that the horse is not for human consumption when:
As a new owner, can I revoke the Section IX declaration?
No. Once Section IX has been signed, it cannot be reversed.
My passport is missing Section IX – what should I do?
If your horse’s passport is missing the Section IX page, it would have been issued before 10 June 2004. Without Section IX, the passport is not fully valid. The owner should contact the relevant Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) to request Section IX be added to the passport. When a PIO adds a Section IX page to an existing passport, they legally have to sign Section IX Part II to declare that the horse is ‘not intended for human consumption’.