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New Requirements on Identification and Microchipping of Equines

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith TD, took the opportunity today to remind the equine industry of the new requirements on equine identification that will come into force from the 1st July 2009. 

EU and national legislation currently requires that all equines be accompanied by a passport (identification document) when being moved. In addition the vast majority of approved studbook keeping organisations currently require that animals are microchipped as part of their registration systems.

The Minister referred to Commission Regulation (EC) No 504/2008 which comes into effect on 1st July 2009.  He explained that all foals born from 1st July 2009 onwards (and also older animals if they have not been previously registered prior to 1st July 2009), will have to be identified by their individual passports and by a microchip, with the number of the microchip having to be entered on the passport also. Under this new Regulation all foals must be identified in this manner within six months of birth. The Regulation does not have retrospective effect.

The aim of Regulation No 504/2008 is to improve the system for the identification of equidae. The new system will build on a single identification document i.e. one passport, issued for the lifetime of the animal when it is born or is imported into the EU from a Third country. This passport will be linked to the animal by the microchip.

The Minister stated that the new Regulation is to be welcomed as it will provide extra safeguards for owners, breeders of equines as to the identity of animals and it represents a major step forward in safeguarding the food chain, noting that the new Regulation will underpin an enhanced modern system of equine identification.

The main effects of Regulation No 504/2008 in Ireland can be summarised as follows:

  • A lifetime passport must be obtained for all equidae within 6 months of birth whether they are moved or not.
  • When the passport is issued to foals or older animals previously unregistered, a microchip is inserted and the microchip number is recorded in the passport in order to ensure a link between the animal and the passport.
  • The issuing of the passport is recorded in a database under a unique life number that remains the lifelong reference for the animal, even if the name of the animal is subsequently changed.
  • Equidae for slaughter must be accompanied to the slaughterhouse by their passport; this as an essential part of the food-chain information required by food law (the passport includes information on any treatments with veterinary medicines).
  • Provisions are made for the recovery of the microchip and the issuing of replacement or duplicate passports.
  • The Regulation does not affect the imports of equidae from third countries, but includes provisions on the identification of equidae definitively imported into the EU.
  • The Regulation also clarifies how to use the passport as a tool to immobilise equidae in case of animal health restrictions (movement restrictions).

The Minister said that officials from his Department have engaged with various industry stakeholders with a view to putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure that all foals born from 1st July 2009 onwards are identified in accordance with Regulation No 504/2008. The Minister also reminded the equine sector that this Regulation has binding effect from 1st July 2009 across the European Union.

Details of all the organisations approved by the Minister to issue equine passports can be found on the Departments website at:  

Date Released: 10 June 2009