Since the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland has been subject to the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP). This means that Northern Ireland maintains regulatory alignment with the EU on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and that European Commission rules on movement and identification of equines continue to apply.

What happened to the Tripartite Agreement (TPA) when the UK left the EU?

The TPA allowed for free movement of horses on the island of Ireland and to and from GB without the need for veterinary certification and also allowed movement of high health horses from UK and Ireland to France for racing/competition/breeding with a DOCOM issued from TRACES.

At the end of the transition period the UK became a 3rd country and is no longer party to the TPA.

Procedure for Movement of Equines between Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI)

Following the Transition Period the NIP requires NI to continue to apply the EU law applicable to the animal health conditions governing the movement of equines. Without a TPA, equine movements between ROI and NI would require health certification. However, a new Bipartite Agreement between ROI and NI has been agreed by DAERA and DAFM to allow movement of equines, other than for slaughter, to continue from ROI to NI and NI to ROI from January 1st, 2021 without veterinary certification.

UK Government are also working with the equine industry to develop a longer term replacement for the TPA and will continue to work with the European Commission to negotiate future arrangements for equine movement.

How will NI to GB equine movements change?

There will be no changes in the way horses and other equines are moved directly from NI to GB from 1 January 2021. These movements will continue as before.

One piece of additional documentation that will be required for NI resident horses entering GB is evidence of the date of leaving NI. This is applicable to registered equines entering GB for racing / competition or cultural event and returning home. Evidence of the date of leaving the EU/NI is required to avail of the Export Health Certificate that allows re-entry back into the EU/NI within 30 days after temporary export without the need for blood testing.

Equines leaving NI via Belfast Port must check in at the DAERA facility on Duncrue Street (Directional signage has been provided at the port) prior to boarding the ferry. Portal inspection exit checks will be conducted and DAERA equine exit declaration issued. Please notify the facility prior to arrival by ringing 028-90378555.

Equines leaving NI via Larne Port continue to check in at the DAERA facility as per existing processes. Portal inspection exit checks will be conducted and DAERA equine exit declaration issued.

Horses travelling from NI to GB via Dublin Port will need to submit a pre-import notification via the DEFRA import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFF’s). They will also need a DAERA issued export health certificate (EHC). Registered horses will not need to be tested for certain diseases and will not have to meet any isolation or residency requirements before they are imported into GB from NI via ROI. Please plan ahead and contact DAERA in advance if you wish to use this route after 1 January 2021. Further guidance is available using the link below:

Can ROI horses enter GB via NI ports?

Under the new Bipartite agreement ROI horses can enter NI without veterinary certification. Horses moving directly from NI to GB do not require veterinary certification or pre-notification.

It is the responsibility of the transporter to ensure they meet these requirements if transporting equines from ROI to GB via NI.

How will GB – NI equine movements change?

Any equines moving from GB to Northern Ireland (NI) will require an EU Export Health Certificate (EHC) and pre-notification on TRACES NT 24hrs in advance. This includes registered equines returning from racing / competition or cultural event in GB.

In summary equines will need to:

  • Be tested for certain diseases
  • Meet isolation and residency requirements
  • Have the right equine identification (ID)

Tests for equines before export

Tests required are:

  • equine infectious anaemia - within 90 days before travel for temporary exports (of under 90 days) for registered horses, or within 30 days before travel for permanent exports and all other temporary exports
  • equine viral arteritis - within 21 days of travel for uncastrated male equines older than 180 days, unless they meet vaccination requirements

Isolation and residency requirements before export

Horses and other equines need to be kept in certain conditions before export.

Before temporary export (less than 90 days) of a registered horse, it will need to be kept on a holding in the UK or a country with a similar health status either:

  • for 40 days
  • since its entry into the UK, if the animal was imported directly from the EU or a country with a similar health status to the UK less than 40 days before export

Before permanent export, or temporary export of any other equine, it will need to be kept separate from other equines that do not have equivalent health status for at least 30 days.

The animal also needs kept on a holding in the UK under veterinary supervision, or in a country with similar health status either:

  • for 90 days
  • since birth if the animal is younger than 90 days old
  • since its entry into the UK if the animal was imported directly from the EU less than 90 days before you export

The supervising vet does not need to be an official vet. However, an official vet must confirm that these requirements have been met before export of the equine.

Identification requirements

Registered horses can travel with their passport i.e. those registered with one of the following:

  • an EU-recognised studbook or pedigree register
  • a national branch of an international racing or competition organisation

All other equines must have a government-issued (APHA) supplementary travel ID in addition to their passport.

  • This will be sent to the OV along with the EHC
  • The official vet will supply the supplementary travel ID with the EHC when they check the animal before travel.
  • The supplementary travel ID is kept together with the horse passport and the EHC with the animal during travel.
  • The supplementary travel ID will be valid for a single journey to the EU/NI and return to GB.  A new supplementary travel ID is required every time an unregistered horse is moved to the EU/NI.

How do equines travelling from GB enter NI?

  • Entry into NI is via points of entry at Belfast and Larne specifically approved for registered and unregistered equines. Pre-notification must be provided in advance via TRACES-NT.
  • An equine importer checklist is available at equine importer checklist
  • Registered equines returning to EU/NI within 30 days of exit after racing / competition in GB can avail of a re-entry EHC that does not require any blood testing. The return journey must be notified in advance via TRACES-NT and the equines must re-enter NI via points of entry at Belfast and Larne.
  • The UK Government has been clear that there should be no tariffs on internal UK trade.  Digital processes will be streamlined and simplified to the maximum extent, and will not require any export declaration, exit declaration, or customs and regulatory clearance for goods as they leave the rest of the UK for Northern Ireland. Furthermore, the new Trader Support Service sign up for further information will ensure that the process is straightforward even for businesses who have not previously engaged with customs, and that no direct costs are incurred.
  • If moving equines to NI, the exporter does not need to pay for them to be inspected and certified. The certifier invoices the government for these costs as part of the Movement Assistance Scheme.

Recognition of UK studbooks

  • The EU has accepted the UK’s application for recognition of UK studbooks.
  • This means horses in recognised UK studbooks will be able to use export health certificates that are only available to registered horses.
  • This would mean these horses can follow the same rules for blood testing, residency and isolation as horses registered with a national branch of an international body for racing or competition when moving to the EU for under 90 days.
  • In addition these horses do not need  a government-issued supplementary travel ID to move from GB to the EU/NI

Can I still register my horse, which is kept in Northern Ireland, in a studbook in an EU member state (e.g. in ROI) after the end of the transition period? (I.e. will studbooks in the EU still be able to extend their breeding programmes into NI from 1 January 2021?

The legislation (EU Regulation 2015/262) that sets out the requirements for horse passports is included in Annex II to the NI Protocol.  This means that for the purposes of equine identification, Northern Ireland will continue to apply EU law as before.  You are still required to obtain a horse passport from any UK PIO (if identification-only).  Further information on how to obtain a horse passport can be found at Horse Passports.

The UK has recently published UK-wide retained EU legislation: The Animals, Aquatic Animal Health, Invasive Alien Species, Plant Propagating Material and Seeds (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. The UK has notified Member State Competent Authorities that within UK legislation, we have provided for EU Member States and Third Countries to apply to extend their breeding programme into the UK. Approval of these applications will be at the discretion of the UK. If approved, this would mean that horses and foals that reside in Northern Ireland (and the rest of the UK) could continue to be registered within ROI studbooks.


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