Horses galloping through water

Equestrian Travel 101 - Everything You Need to Know

All cargo is precious, but when it is living and breathing, it’s a different story. When it comes to transporting your horses across the water, we know how stressful it can be. Avoid the stress by following our simple steps.


To begin with, is your horse correctly registered? If you are unsure what this means, check out our previous article - Transporting Horses by Freight Ferry.

Like humans, your horse or pony is going nowhere without a passport. Before you ship, ensure you have a valid passport in your possession for each animal travelling – you won’t get off the quayside without it.

As any responsible owner knows, it is extremely unwise to consider shipping an unwell animal, especially on a long overseas journey. If you are in any way concerned your horse or pony may be suffering with an ailment, get them checked out by a vet immediately. A horse will not be allowed on board if they fail any health checks, which will result in lost time and money.


Most European countries are subject to EU law, which classifies the movement of horses and ponies as trade and therefore subject to certain protocol.

If you are importing or exporting horses or ponies within the EU, it is vital that you carry an EXA31 Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate (ITAHC) for each animal. This proves that they are legally registered and are in full health.

You can apply for an ITAHC at You must let the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) know that you have requested one and provide details of the veterinary facility who provides your animal with medical care. The vet must be a fully licenced OV (Official Veterinary) who carries a licence to sign trade documents and perform necessary wellness checks.

If your current vet cannot do this, you need to find one who can. Travel will not be permitted without a full examination from an OV. No more than 48 hours before shipment, your horse should be examined by the OV to ensure they are well enough to travel.


Mercedez Benz HorseboxWhen it comes to shipping horses or ponies out of the EU, in addition to the ITAHC you must also complete an Export Welfare Declaration (EWD).

There are two forms depending on the type of animal. One is for horses of 147cm (14.2hh) in height and the other is for of ponies 147m (14.2hh) or less.

When completing an EWD, ensure you already have your journey sorted. This includies port of departure, country of departure, countries of transport etc. It may help to speak to someone from a shipping company in advance to ensure that all details will still remain applicable at departure.

On board the ferry you must have a copy of the EWD available, so remember to make copies!


According to EU Law, when moving animals of any kind, no matter whether the purpose is for commercial pet breeders or for a slaughter house, ‘you must transport them in a way that will not cause them injury or unnecessary suffering.’

According to the 2007 EU Regulation, during the transportation of horses in your care you should ensure the following requirements are met.

  1. Plan your journey thoroughly and keep the travel time to a minimum
  2. Ensure the animal is in full health with all required paperwork
  3. Ensure your vehicle is appropriate and conforms with requirements for the journey it’s about to undertake -
  4. Ensure those handling animals are competent and do not use any methods likely to cause fear, injury or suffering
  5. Provide sufficient floor space and height
  6. Provide water, feed and rest when needed


For a journey of over 65km (approximately 40 miles) and up to eight hours, the transporter must be in possession of a Type 1 Transporter Authorisation. Also, ensure drivers and attendants hold certificates of competency and that they can demonstrate they possess the appropriate staff and equipment to transport an animal in the proper way.

For longer journeys over 65km or eight hours, the transporter must hold the additional Type 2 Transporter Authorisation. Also, ensure any vehicle used to transport horses or ponies are approved, you have a contingency plan in the event of an emergency and complete a journey log where unregistered horses and ponies are being exported.

For all vehicle requirements, please take the time to go over the DEFRA’s Welfare Guidance for horses and ponies to ensure your vehicular needs are met during transportation

If you have any queries regarding the transport of an equine by ferry, contact our experienced team to find out how to best arrange the shipment of your animal.

27 July 2018

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