Equines in Europe

European Union regulation (EU) 2015/262

The European Union regulation (EU) 2015/262 repeals and replaces Commission Regulation (EC) No 504/2008[3]. Horse passports are mandatory for all equidae across the EU.

The identification rules will be implemented in Scotland through new domestic regulations in line with Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/262 which came into force on 1 January 2016. It is directly applicable in all Member States.

Key to the new equine ID proposal is for each Member State to have in place by 1 July 2016 a Central Equine Database (CED) that records equine identification, including microchip and passport number, as well as ownership details.


In response to the horse meat fraud in 2013, the European Commission (EC) set in place a 5 point action plan. One of the outcomes of this plan was to revise the Equine Identification Regulation (EC) No 504/2008 to tighten up controls on the issue, use, and quality of horse passports.

The new Regulation, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262 laying down rules pursuant to Council Directives 90/427/EEC and 2009/156/EC as regards the methods for the identification of equidae (Equine Passport Regulation), came into force on 1 January 2016 repealing and replacing 504/2008 and is directly applicable in all Member States.

The purpose of the legislation is to protect public health by ensuring that horses which have been treated with certain veterinary medicines harmful to humans, do not enter the food chain. Key to the new Equine Identification Regulation is the establishment and operation of a CED in each Member State. Previously a centrally managed database was optional.

Most of the nationals Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs) operated their own databases; however, the new requirement for a central database means the data they hold will also have to be held centrally. Each Member State have a centrally managed database in place from 1 July 2016.


The European Commission (EC) announced proposals in March 2013 to replace the European legislation that underpins the horse identification (passports) regime. This was as a direct result of the findings of fraud on unlabelled horse meat in beef products.

The EC 5 point action plan which was put in place to prevent food fraud included a strengthening of the horse passport regime, a view which is supported by the Scudamore Report. Horse passports have been mandatory for all equidae across the EU since 2005. Since 2009, microchips have also been required for newly identified animals.

Horse passports are essentially a human health measure to ensure that horses do not enter the human food chain if they have been treated with substances not suitable for food chain animals.

A passport is not an ownership document; it is an identification document which records the identity and details about the horse, owner information and the veterinary medicines administered to the horse.

The new Regulation introduces a mandatory obligation to operate a central equine database containing basic identification of all horses within their territory from 1 July 2016.

Cooperation between central database operators is a requirement of the new Regulation to allow other Member States to search basic information in order to facilitate sharing of equine identification data across the EU.

Information on EU requirements on the Identification of Equidae

Council Directive 90/427/EEC which laid down the zootechnical conditions governing intra-Union trade in equidae has recently been repealed by Regulation 2016/1012 (zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products). The Regulation was published on 9 June 2016 and took effect on 19 July 2016. Thereafter the date of application is scheduled for 1 November 2018 once implementing Acts have been created.

It is a regulatory obligation ensuring that registered equidae that are being moved are accompanied by a document or zootechnical certificate issued by the approved breeding organisations, breeders’ associations or competent authority referred to in that regulation.

Council Directive 2009/156/EC lays down the animal health conditions for the movement and the importation from third countries of equidae.

Use of passports in trade

Zootechnical and genealogical conditions governing intra-union trade in equidae provides that registered equidae are to be identified by an identification document issued in accordance with the above Regulation or by an international association or organisation which manages horses for competition or racing.

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