transporting horses

Transporting Horses by Freight Ferry

UPDATE P&O Ferries have re-emphasised the importance of secure movement of horses by sea - Welfare guidance notes for horses and ponies.

This page is about the process of Application Forms and Advice for Export of Equines (Equestrian) to EU. It deals specifically with freight transport of horses.

The first thing to consider in the transportation of a horse is their Registration Status.

What is the Horse Registration Status?

There are two type of registration status:

  1. REGISTERED HORSES are defined as those registered on a stud book of a recognised breed society. Search online and you will find a number of official horse breeding societies such as The Shire Horse Society, The British Hanoverian Horse Society, Cleveland Bay Horse Society, and many more. A registered horse also includes competition horses registered with a recognised equine competition body like those registered with the British Equestrian Federation. All these types of horse registrations are deemed legitimate and legal, under Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) rules.
  2. NON-REGISTERED HORSES are all other horses that do not fall into the categories for registered horses listed above. These types of horse are commonly referred to as 'for breeding and production'.

The first thing to do when planning to ship horse(s) is complete form (EXA31) - known as the International Trade Animal Health Certificate (TRACES) application. The links to download the forms you require are below:

Download EXA31 | DownLoad EXA31 Guidance Notes |

This form must be completed and returned to the following address below or alternately emailed or faxed:

Centre for International Trade - Carlisle
Hadrian House
Wavell Drive
Rosehill Industrial Estate

General enquiries email:

Telephone: 01228 403 600
Fax: 01228 591 900

Important Horse Shipment Documentation

  1. Other paperwork may be necessary for you to complete depending on what you are shipping via freight ferry. For example, there are further guidance notes available for carrying Germoplasm (Horse Semen or Ova). Please refer to
  2. You are required by law to carry an Export Declaration. If the horses to be exported are over 147cm (14.2 hands), complete form EXH6. Otherwise complete form EXH7.
  3. If you are moving ponies these of course are still classified as 'Equines' and there you are still required to carry an export declaration. However, this is form EXH12 on pony licensing.
  4. Thoroughbred horses certified by a racing club being exported for the purpose of racing or a race horse travelling for training or used in breeding are exempt from licensing

If your horse or ponies are NON-REGISTERED, you may require a ROUTE PLAN. However, this depends on whether or not they are pets or travelling with a lesser ratio of one horse to one person. For example, two horses require two persons to travel with the horses to be exempt from a route plan. Contact Defra on 01228 403 600 (option 4) for more information.

Please bear aware that in the event you are returning to the UK within 10 days of the International Trade Animal Health Certificate (TRACES certificate) being signed, the certificate will cover you for re-entry into the UK.

Horse Re-Licensing

The horse or pony will need to be re-licensed in your destination country, before your return. It is the responsibility of the exporter to make sure that all export requirements are met. Should you have any veterinary queries please contact your local veterinary surgeon.

For queries regarding the application form or health certificate please contact DEFRA.

If you have any other queries about transporting your horse on a freight ferry, please do not hesitate to contact our expert customer service team.

07 October 2016

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