If you have a horse for breeding or production, they may now only be identified by an approved Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) in the State in which the animal is kept.

New horse identification regulations came into force on January 1, 2016 after they were signed recently by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

The new legislation introduces a new passport format which improves the security features for passports in order to prevent fraud.

Both the EU and national regulations confirm that the keeper is ultimately responsible for the identification of a horse.

The keeper is also responsible for ensuring that the information contained in the identification document is accurate and up-to-date at all times.

Under the new regulations, keepers are responsible for ensuring that horses have the relevant identification documents issued within 12 months from the date of birth of the animal.

In this context, the Department has said that it might be noted that keepers are required to submit a completed application for a horse passport to an appropriate PIO within 6 months from the date of the horse’s birth.

A keeper who fails to comply with the requirement to properly identify a horse commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of up to €5,000.

Keepers are advised to identify horses as soon as is practicable following the birth of the animal as the consequences for late identification include the automatic exclusion of the animal from the food chain.

In such circumstances, only duplicate or replacement passports may be issued which will be marked as such and will confirm the irrevocable exclusion of the animal from the food chain.

Additional responsibilities are placed on keepers with these new regulations to record the introduction of an equine into the State from another EU Member State.

This requires the lodgement of the relevant passport with an approved PIO in the State within 30 days of the animal entering the country.

Similarly, in the case of horses registered in Studbooks that are resident in the State but were identified by a PIO in another EU Member State, keepers are required to lodge the relevant passport with an appropriate PIO in the State within 30 days of the issue of the original document.

This approach allows for the recording of the horse’s data on the database of the PIO and on the central equine database maintained by the Department.

Importation of horses into the State

The Department confirmed that the rules on the importation of horses into the State from outside the EU remain unchanged.

The importing keeper must, within 30 days of the completion of customs procedures, apply to an appropriate PIO in Ireland for the issue of an identification document in accordance with EU legislation or for the registration of the existing document in the PIO database and in the central database.

It is important to note that, while the EU regulation prescribes the identification information which keepers of horses need to provide when applying for horse passports, Member States are allowed to require additional information, as necessary.

In this regard, the Department of Agriculture requires that a keeper making an application for a passport in Ireland must have a valid Equine Premises Registration Number assigned by the Department.

The Equine Premises Registration Number must be recorded on the application form and current ownership details of horses kept in this country must be accurately recorded at all times.

Moreover, Regulations were introduced in 2014 requiring persons to notify change of ownership details of an horse to the relevant PIO within 30 days of the transaction. This is designed to ensure that horses can be readily traced, particularly in the event of an outbreak of disease.