Travel FAQs

How do I book ferry crossings for my lorry and what paperwork will I need to travel my horses overseas?

 Once you have been authorised to compete at a show, you have current FEI Registration numbers and valid FEI passports, entries are made on your behalf by the International Office. You can then go ahead and start making your travel arrangements. We would recommend that you use a Shipping Agent with experience of shipping horses abroad who will be able to arrange most things for you for a small handling fee.

Alternatively if you wish to make your own arrangements, please bear in mind that ferry companies will charge you by vehicle length. Ensure your chosen ferry route will take horses.Inform the ferry company that you will be transporting a horse when you book your ticket. Don't forget to phone the ferry company before you leave to check for any delays or rough weather. They will not allow horses on the ferries in very rough seas. Always make sure you take your horse’s passport with you when travelling.

When travelling to an international show it is  essential that you plan your journey  as soon as possible  and find out what you are required to do to enable your horse to leave the country and for your horse box to travel on continental roads.


Important Points to remember


1.      Every Country in the EC other than France and Ireland require each horse to have an Official Health Certificate issued by DEFRA  and countersigned by your local Vet.

2.       Every Horse departing from British Ports (Other than the Irish Route) requires an export licence issued by DEFRA  Passport correctly filled in before leaving home.

3.      Make sure you have papers prepared for every horse you could possibly take to the event.   Papers which have to be obtained from DEFRA take several days to obtain and impossible to obtain at weekends or holiday periods.

4.      Ferry Operators will refuse to take horses when the sea is rough or expected to become very rough.

5.      Because of this it is important that enough time is allowed for a delay for bad weather when planning the timing of your journey abroad.

6.      Short sea crossings are less affected by bad weather than the longer sea routes. Also big advantage to use say Dover where there are boats leaving every hour rather than say Hull where there is only one sailing per day.

7.       Think and consider that boxes do break down and we sometimes have fog.

8.       Consider how long your horse should stay on your wagon.   Having 2 drivers heroically driving non-stop for 24 hours does not win competitions.

9.  Check your insurance cover.  Many UK Horse and Truck insurances do not cover continental travel.  Many Horse box policies cover Continental Travel But only as third party cover.   You get nothing for damage to your own vehicle.

10. Remember you too will need your passport and it is important to obtain overseas insurance for yourselves.


Depending on which country you are taking your horse/s to, will depend on what documentation you will require:-


Ireland: Taking your horse into Northern Ireland is simple - just book your lorry on a ferry and off you go. Travelling to the Republic of Ireland, make sure you inform the ferry company that there will be a horse on your lorry as they will inform the vet in the port. Your horse will be quickly inspected to ensure it is fit for travel. Make sure there is no loose hay or straw on your lorry when you board the ferry to the Republic of Ireland. If there is they will make you unload your horse at the dock and thoroughly clean out your lorry. Loose shavings and sealed bags of haylage and feed are acceptable.

France:  all registered horses travelling to an FEI competition in France will now need an additional document, called a DOCOM, alongside their passport.  The Tripartite Agreement (TPA) contains provision for horses entered in FEI competitons in France to apply for a certificate called a DOCOM from an approved shipper to simplify the costs and administration for these horses.  Movements for any other purpose or movements to any other country than France will need to obtain health papers in the usual way.  A DOCOM lasts for 10 days, for longer trips the relevant shipper in France will issue a return DOCOM.  The DOCOM means that these 'high health status' horses will still be exempt from obtaining and paying for health papers signed by a veterinarian.  They are granted 'high health status' because of their compliance with vaccination requirements and FEI Veterinary Regulations.  DOCOMs are available from BEF approved shippers listed on the following link:

The Rest of Europe: Horses travelling to the rest of Europe (Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany etc.) will require an export licence and a health certificate. It is also advisable to have a Route Plan to show that the horse is being transported under the terms of the Welfare of Animals Transport Order 1997. Horses travelling to or through Switzerland or Norway are subject to customs clearance and will need to travel on an ATA Carnet. This allows them to travel free of taxes or duties.


Worldwide: Some countries outside Europe have specific quarantine and blood test requirements. For example, shipping horses to the USA will require blood tests for infectious anaemia (via Coggins Test), glanders, dourine and piroplasmosis, also a test for CEM for mares and stallions, and a period of quarantine before they leave the UK. Contact your vet, DEFRA or a specialist horse shipping company for the current requirements for any specific country.



Export Licence: Licence required to take your horse or pony out of the UK. The ferry company will ask for this at the port when you arrive to board the ferry. You can apply for this yourself from DEFRA, include the proof of value for ponies.


TRACES Document:  You can apply to DEFRA yourself or get your vet to apply for the health certificate for the country your horse is travelling to. The certificate will be sent directly to your vet and you will need to make an appointment with him or her for the horse to be inspected no more than 48 hours before it leaves the UK. The ferry company will ask to see this at the port but will return it to you. You will need this in your destination country. You will need a health certificate to be issued and signed in your destination country to be able to return to the UK (not applicable for France or Ireland).


Route Plan: A form which you partially complete and then send off with your application for a health certificate. DEFRA will stamp the first section and send it back with the health certificate for you to complete during the journey. Do not allow any official to keep this en route. You must take this home and keep it for 6 months in case DEFRA want to inspect it.


ATA Carnet: The Carnet is a temporary export document that eliminates the need for a Customs declaration at border points and the deposit of a guarantee, bond, or cash deposit in the country of temporary importation. It can be used for a trip covering more than one country and include numerous exits and re-entries in the country of origin during the period of validity of the document (i.e. one year). Available from the Chamber of Commerce, this is a rather expensive document!