World Horse Welfare Welcomes Announcement of New Equine ID Regulations


Defra has announced the introduction of new legislation around the identification of horses, ponies and donkeys in England

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The new regulations announced today (25th June) by Defra and coming into force on 1st October 2018 will make it a legal requirement for all horses in England to be identified, which will include a requirement for the animal to be microchipped and will introduce civil sanctions for those who do not comply, such as fixed penalty notices. Horse owners will have two years to get their horse microchipped if it is not already chipped.

Previously, microchipping was a legal requirement for any horse born after 30th June 2009 but the new regulations will bring in retrospective microchipping and for the first time, details of both horse and owner will be kept on a new Central Equine Database.

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers, said: 

“This is a hugely significant step forward for horse welfare and the equine sector.  An effective identification system is not only vital in encouraging responsible ownership, but will help give a much clearer picture of England’s equine population which is vital in the event of a disease outbreak.

“Horse owners will benefit from increased traceability, making it easier for them to be reunited with lost or stolen horses.  The Public Chip Checker on the Central Equine Database will also offer more services for horse owners to protect their horses.

“The ability to accurately link every horse to an owner increases traceability and ensures owners can be held accountable in the case of welfare problems or abandonment, rather than simply discarding their unwanted animals with no consequences. 

“It is particularly positive that with the introduction of civil sanctions for non-compliance, Local Authorities will now be able to recover the costs associated with enforcement – removing this potential barrier to doing so. As with any legislation, it will only work if it is robustly enforced and so we are pleased that Defra has taken heed of recommendations from the British Horse Council – of which World Horse Welfare is a member – to ensure the new equine ID regulations are as effective as possible.

“As well as the responsibility on Local Authorities to enforce the regulations, the horse community must also take responsibility for making the Central Equine Database fulfil its purpose by ensuring their and their horses’ details are kept fully up to date with their PIO – including changes in ownership, if a horse has been stolen or is deceased.

“Not only will this help owners safeguard their horse but it is also information which will be imperative in the case of managing and controlling any disease outbreaks which may occur.”

As a horse owner, what do I need to know? 
  • All passport issuing organisations (PIO) are in the process of uploading the information they hold to the Central Equine Database
  • In due course you should log on to the Chip Checker and input your horse’s microchip number to check the details* are all up to date
  1. If the details are incorrect, then you should notify your PIO
  2. If your horse is deceased, this information must be entered under their microchip on the Chip Checker to safeguard against the microchip being re-used fraudulently for a different horse
  • If your horse changes owner, has been lost, stolen, euthanased or signed out of the food chain, you must let your PIO know as soon as possible and they will have 24 hours in which to update the Central Equine Database. Once the regulations come into force (1st October 2018) you have 30 days to let your PIO know of any changes.
  • If your horse was born before 30th June 2009 and does not have a microchip, you have two years in which to ensure they are microchipped. To save on the cost of a separate vet call out, we suggest you have this done as part of your routine vaccinations
  • The Chip Checker will soon be enhanced by a ‘Digital Stable’ that will enable a full record of your horse to be kept online. As well as a number of other features, this will help safeguard against horses being sold without the owner’s consent as you will be able to mark the horse as ‘for sale’, ‘not for sale’ or ‘stolen’. This feature is not yet available but you can register your interest at:
  • If you fail to comply with the equine ID regulations, your local authority may serve a non-compliance notice which will give you a set period to comply or depending on the severity of the offence, you may receive a fixed monetary penalty. Offences include:
  1. Failing to produce a passport when instructed by a vet or inspector
  2. Possessing a passport but no horse
  3. Possessing a horse when the passport is not in your name without an agreement (preferably a written contract) between the owner and the ‘keeper’ (person responsible) 
  4. Selling a horse and not handing over the passport
  5. Transporting a horse without a passport
  6. Owning a horse without a microchip


I’ve searched on the Chip Checker and there is no record of my horse in the database, what should I do?

There are currently 3 PIOs that do not have their records on the CED, therefore if your horse is currently not on the CED it is not an immediate cause for concern. We would recommend contacting your PIO to clarify the situation.

* PIO, gender, colour,species, age and food chain status