Government warns equine sector of extra red tape in event of no-deal Brexit

The government has warned the racing and breeding industries of the extra red tape they will have to negotiate if they want to move horses to and from the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In updated guidance, the government said that if the United Kingdom leaves on October 31 without a deal owners will need to consult with a vet at least six weeks before they are planning to travel a horse to the EU, leaving little time for anyone wishing to move a horse in the immediate aftermath of Brexit to make the necessary preparations.

Racehorses and breeding stock travelling from the UK to the EU will also need to undergo additional blood tests which will need to be carried out within 30 days or less of travelling, to satisfy EU regulations.

All horses will need an Export Health Certificate in order to travel to EU states, instead of current documents, and will need to enter the EU via a Border Inspection Post (BIP).

Racehorses could also need a government-issued travel ID document, in addition to their existing equine passport, but only if the European Commission does not recognise the General Stud Book.

Free movement of racehorses between the UK, Ireland and France is currently guaranteed by the Tripartite Agreement but that will cease to apply following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

However, the government said it had already committed to allowing continued movement of all horses from the EU to the UK "to support the industries that rely on these animals and ahead of major horseracing and equestrian events".

Defra minister Lord Gardiner, added: "While the government is seeking a deal, we have stepped up our preparations and we will be ready to leave the EU on October 31, whatever the circumstances.  

"This guidance will help businesses and owners of horses prepare if we leave without a deal and the government has already committed to the continued movement of horses from EU member states."

The government also said it was continuing with its application to the European Commission on securing "third country" status for the UK, which would enable the continued movement of horses to the EU.

That status was granted earlier this year but fell away when the Brexit deadline was extended to the end of October.

The government warned that should that status not be granted "no movements of equines from the UK to the EU will be possible after we leave the EU until listed status is secured".

The BHA said it would also be giving further advice to the industry as the preparations for Brexit continue.

A BHA spokesman said: "We welcome the publication of this latest advice by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on preparations which participants should be undertaking regarding planned thoroughbred movements following any no deal withdrawal from the EU on October 31. 

"Full information and guidance across all aspects of Brexit relevant to the industry are provided on the BHA's Brexit webpage and we will also be issuing further guidance in the coming weeks."