Horse Microchipping Deadline: What You Need To Know

The deadline to get your horse microchipped and in compliance with UK law is fast approaching, and so if your horse is not yet registered with the Central Equine Database, this is your not so gentle reminder – it’s time to get a move on!

Just like with many domestic pets, it’s long been recommended that horse owners have their majestic mares microchipped, as it helps to ensure their whereabouts should they ever go missing or be suspected stolen.

However, as well as improving equine welfare as a whole, horse microchipping also helps the police hold irresponsible owners accountable for the abandonment or abuse of their animals.

Initially only mandatory for horses born after July 2009, the government announced a new law in June 2018 that made the microchipping of all horses, ponies and donkeys a compulsory action for owners in the UK.

horse microchip information

This came shortly after the release of RSPCA figures which revealed 1000 abandoned horses had been rescued in 2017, and so it was only natural the government were quick to take action.

Giving owners a deadline of just over two years to register their animal with the CED, the cut-off point is now just a month away and so if you’re yet to get your horse chipped, you’ll need to act fast if you want to avoid fines and government notices!

Here’s everything you need to know…

When Is The Deadline For Microchipping a Horse in the UK?

Announced by the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, horse owners now have until the 1st October 2020 in England to get their animal microchipped and registered on The Central Equine Database.

In Wales, this deadline is 12th February 2021 and in Scotland, 28th March 2021.

Once on this database, your animal will be easily trackable by local authorities and the police, ensuring lost horses and cases of theft can be easily solved.

Last year alone, the RSPCA took 875 horses into their care and in 70% of those cases, the abandoned or abused horse was not microchipped. This meant no owner could be traced and no abusers could be held responsible for their animal injustices.

The government have therefore been hasty to provide a solution to such abhorrent animal cruelty.

How Do I Know If My Horse Is Already Microchipped?

If your horse was born in the UK post-July 2009, they will likely have been positively affected by a previous microchipping law, which enforced all newborn equines in the UK to be chipped.

However, if your horse was born before this or their current passport is issued before this date, there is a risk they may not be chipped.

If you’re not sure, you should check your horse’s passport which should include a microchip number should your horse have one. Or, use a microchip scanner on your horse (which is handy to have anyway).

You can also check the National ChipChecker on the Equine Register’s Digital Stable.

How Do I Get My Horse Microchipped?

If you’ve discovered that your horse is not successfully microchipped, you’ll want to make sure you rectify this before your specific UK deadline.

The only way to get your horse chipped legally is through a vet, an incredibly common procedure for horses that has a relatively low cost.

how to get a horse chipped

Once you’ve contacted your vet and had your animal chipped, you then need to have your vet record the microchip number in your animal’s passport.

From there, you are then expected to contact your Passport Issuing Organisation and notify them of the new microchip number so they can update records and add the chip to the Central Equine Database.

What If My Horse Doesn’t Have a UK Passport?

If you’ve just purchased a new colt/filly or bought a new horse that’s been imported from another EU country, your horse may not even have a British passport.

This means, unfortunately, that you have an extra step ahead of you when getting your horse chipped, as they are a required piece of identification and information when it comes to uploading details onto the CED.

Every horse, donkey or pony in the UK should have a legal British passport by the age of 12 months and so if your animal does not yet have one, you’ll need to try and apply for one before they are a year old.

You can apply for a horse passport through a PIO of your choice and if your horse is a pedigree, it will need to be an organisation that manages studbooks.

You must then send your application to the PIO by whichever date is latest:

  • 30th November in the animal’s year of birth
  • Within 6 months of their birth

This can take up to six weeks to go through but once completed, it will allow you to get your horse chipped and successfully onto the CED.

horse passport applications

If you apply for a passport after their first 12 months, it will be treated as late and issued as a duplicate or replacement passport.

If your horse has arrived in the UK from another country, the government advises owners to apply for a UK passport within 30 days of their entry. This ensures they are placed on the CED and the non-UK passport is updated.

If you’re lucky, they may already have a chip which can be recorded by CED, but if not, they will need a new one.

What Happens If I Don’t Get My Horse Microchipped?

There is literally no benefits to not getting your horse microchipped and should you ever suffer the stress of losing them or having them stolen, you’ll regret not having them chipped for the rest of your life.

Owners who are found to have unchipped horses, donkeys or ponies after the deadline date could be fined £200 by DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). They will also be given sanction notices from their Local Authority, encouraging compliance with the new laws.