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Food Safety

About equine animals

The number of equine animals or equidae in the European Union is small, probably not many more than 6 millions, compared to hundreds of millions of other livestock. To keep, breed and use equidae - first and foremost horses - is labour intensive, by and large uses less fertile land, and it represents a source of income for a part of the farming community.

Equidae, and in particular horses, are very mobile and change the establishment of residence more frequently than for example bovine or porcine animals. In many cases they represent as an individual an enormous economic and emotional value. The reoccurrence of major equine infectious diseases which, if they had ever occurred, were successfully eradicated in the EU Member States would seriously compromise the rational development of equidae production, movement between the EU Member States of such animals and the development of equestrian sports.

Definition and general animal health conditions

Article 2 of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 ('Animal Health Law') defines animals of the equine species or equine animals as animals of species of solipeds belonging to the genus Equus (including horses, asses and zebras) and the offspring of crossings of those species. It also defines kept animals’ as animals which are kept by humans, in contrast to wild animals which are not kept by humans.

Article 2 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2035 defines a ‘registered equine animal’ as:

  1. a purebred breeding animal of the species Equus caballus and Equus asinus entered or eligible for entry in the main section of a breeding book established by a breed society or breeding body recognised in accordance with Articles 4 or 34 of Regulation (EU) 2016/1012; and
  2. a kept animal of the species Equus caballus registered with an international association or organisation, either directly or through its national federation or branches, which manages horses for competition or racing (‘registered horse’)

The animal health conditions governing the movement of equine animals between the EU Member States, including the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland, and certain EFTA Countries, and their entry from non-EU countries are laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 respectively.

Categories of equidae

  • Equine animals not intended for slaughter, which are all kept equine animals, including those kept under semi-wild conditions as provided for in Article 60 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2035, not intended to be moved to a slaughterhouse, irrespective of their status as excluded or not excluded from slaughter for human consumption in accordance with Article 112(4) of Regulation (EU) 2019/6;
  • Equine animals intended for slaughter, which are all kept equine animals intended to be moved to a slaughterhouse;
  • Registered equine animals, is a subpopulation of the category of Equine animals not intended for slaughter which benefits from certain animal welfare conditions during transport, and specific animal health conditions during movement, provided that these animals comply with additional health conditions laid down in Article 92 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688.

Identification and registration of equine animals

Please see the specific section of our website, relating to Identification

Movement between the EU Member States

The animal health conditions governing the movement of equidae (equine animals) between the EU Member States, including the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland, are laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688, and in particular in Section 4 thereof. These conditions apply also to the movement of equine animals between EU Member States and the EFTA countries Switzerland and Norway.
The required animal health certificates are laid down in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403, in particular pages 82 to 95, and are available in the TRACES system,
The main changes as compared to Council Directive 2009/156/EC, which was repealed on 21 April 2021, are the following:

  1. Mutual Agreements concluded between Member States in accordance with Article 6 of that Directive are no longer valid. The possibility to agree on specific movement conditions for registered equine animals is laid down in Article 69 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/688;
  2. The specific guarantees as provided for in accordance with Article 15(b)(ii) of that Directive for equine viral arteritis in the case of imported uncastrated male equines are no longer required;
  3. Vesicular stomatitis listed as notifiable disease in Annex I to that Directive is no longer a listed disease;
  4. The attestation set out in Annex II to that Directive is no longer available and has no equivalent under the new legal framework.
  5. The tests for African horse sickness, previously set out in Annex IV to Directive 2009/156/EC, are replaced by the standard operating procedures published by the EU reference laboratory for African horse sickness and Bluetongue in Algete, Spain.

The prevention and control rules for listed diseases referred to in Article 9(1) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 which apply to the categories of listed diseases for equine animals are set out in the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1882. According to that list, African horse sickness and infection with Burkholderia mallei (glanders) are category A diseases that do not normally occur in the Union and for which immediate eradication measures must be taken as soon as they are detected, as referred to in Article 9(1)(a) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429, and in accordance with the measures provided for in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/687.

In addition, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis, Surra (Trypanosoma evansi), Dourine and Equine infectious anaemia are listed diseases assigned to category D, i.e. diseases for which measures are needed to prevent them from spreading on account of the movements between Member States or entry into the Union as referred to in Article 9(1)(d) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429. In particular, the absence of these diseases on an establishment of dispatch of an equine animal to another Member Stater or from a third country to the Union are to be certified.

Infection with equine arteritis virus and contagious equine metritis are also listed disease of equine animals of category D, however specific measures for those diseases have only been adopted in respect of donor animals for germinal products and are laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/686.

All of the aforementioned disease of equidae plus Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, West Nile Fever and Japanese encephalitis are diseases of category E, i.e. diseases for which there is a need for surveillance within the Union, as referred to in Article 9(1)(e) of Regulation (EU) 2016/429, and are therefore notifiable diseases. The laboratory methods to be used for the diagnosis of listed  equine diseases, except African horse sickness, are published on the website of the EU reference laboratory for equine diseases other than AHS in Maisons-Alfort, Paris, France

Entry into the Union

The animal health conditions governing the entry into the Union of equine animals from third countries, territories and zones thereof are laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692.

The health certificates required for the different types of entry into the Union are set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/403, in particular:


Model

Title

Pages in OJ
(indicative)

EQUI-X

Entry of equine animals not intended for slaughter

514 - 526

EQUI-Y

Entry of equine animals intended for slaughter

527 - 536

EQUI-TRANSIT-X

Transit of equine animals not intended for slaughter

537 - 549

EQUI-TRANSIT-Y

Transit of equine animals intended for slaughter

550 - 558

EQUI-RE-ENTRY-30

Re-entry into the Union of registered horses for racing, competition and cultural events after temporary export for a period of not more than 30 days

559 - 566

EQUI-RE-ENTRY-90-COMP

Re-entry into the Union of registered horses for competition after temporary export for a period of not more than 90 days to participate in equestrian events organised under the auspices of FEI

567 - 574

EQUI-RE-ENTRY-90-RACE

Re-entry into the Union of registered horses for racing after temporary export for a period of not more than 90 days to participate in specific race events in Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates or Qatar

575 - 582

Audits

Before entry into the Union of equine animals is authorised from a third country, territory or zone thereof, the Commission carries out an audit to verify that the animal health guarantees in regard to equidae in a third country or territory as provided for in Regulation (EU) 2016/429 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692 are fulfilled.

Authorised countries

A third country or territory may only export equidae into the European Union if that third country, territory or zone thereof is added - based on the principles contained in Regulation (EU) 2016/429 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/692, and on the results of the audit - to the list of third countries, territories and zones thereof from where Member States authorise the entry of equine animals, set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/404.

Diseases assessment

The animal health conditions for entry into the Union of equine animals are based on country freedom from African horse sickness and infection with Burkholderia mallei (glanders). Where absence of a disease is required for a specified period of time, this requirement may be applied to a defined part ("zone") of the exporting third country or territory, provided regionalisation/zoning has been carried out based on surveillance and strict movement controls, and was approved by the Commission.

Depending on the prevailing risks of disease introduction through entry of equidae into the Union, the third countries and territories approved for export are assigned to sanitary groups for each of which additional residence, quarantine, test and vaccination requirements are specified.

Border inspections

Live animals entering the European Union are inspected, as described in more detail in the Veterinary Border Control Section, at a Border Control Post (BCP) - as listed on our Designated Border Control Posts (BCPs) page.

Guidance

A summary providing General guidance for non-EU country authorities on procedures to be followed when importing live animals and animal products into the EU.