The UK left the EU on January 31, 2020. Under the terms of UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement the UK entered into a Transition Period that ran until December 31, 2020 whereby the UK essentially remained within the EU Customs Union and was subject to EU customs legislation. Since January 1, 2021, there is a customs border between the EU and Great Britain (“GB”) and goods including horses are subject to custom duty and VAT obligations.

    Since January 1, horses are no longer able to move freely between Ireland and Britain, and through Britain. There is extra certification needed to move horses and these movements can only take place through a Border Inspection Post at which, at a minimum, there are documentary checks.

    Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) will be hoping to do these electronically to ensure physical inspections will be rare.

    In essence, this now means that there is an extra cost to your business through increased veterinary costs for certifications, and the engaging of logistics companies to handle the international travel and Customs requirements.

    If moving horses for racing, sales, or breeding purposes, you should be registered with DAFM and Revenue. You should also be in communication with your private veterinary practitioner in relation to the extra certification that is required, and you will also need to understand who will carry out the various roles in the transporting of your horses and the Customs duties that will be attached to it.

    You need to engage with your private vet to advise them you require increased veterinary services in 2021 for horses moving to Great Britain. Those horses require an export health certificate and your private vet will need to examine the horse before issuing that supplementary veterinary certificate which you will then present to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who will issue a final export health certificate.

    You need to contact your local Regional Veterinary Office, giving a minimum notice of five working days. Currently DAFM operate a minimum working notice of three working days for certificates to mainland Europe but because of the increase in volume anticipated, the request has been made for operators to give a minimum notice of five working days. You must submit to your Regional Veterinary Office the vet cert signed by the private vet and DAFM’s RVO will be responsible for the signed and stamped certificate.

    In addition you are required to give advance notice to Great Britain on their new import system, IPAFFS, which replaces TRACES. It is important to note that you must have a UK-based agent to submit this notification because EU-based operators cannot register for this system.

    This notification must be submitted a minimum 24 hours before your horse arrives in GB and within 30 days of arrival. Do this as soon as possible before each movement because that process will assign you the unique notification number that must be included in the export health certificate from Ireland, and you will need that number when you contact your local RVO.

    Customs considerations is an issue that will generate additional administrative requirements and potential costs that previously have not applied to the movement of horses to and from the UK. These matters should be considered in advance of the movement of a horse cross-border. The customs considerations and VAT implications are very much dependent on the specific facts of a transaction so for certainty on the treatment of any specific transaction, we recommend that advice would be obtained in advance of the transaction.

    There are significant issues which transporters should consider. To transport equine animals to GB, a transporter will need to apply for a UK-issued Transporter Authorisation, a Certificate of Competence, and a Vehicle Approval Certificate. The relevant website links are all below in the Resources section. GB, including Northern Ireland, do not accept EU-issued versions of these documents.

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