A revision of the Tripartite Agreement (TPA) for the movement of horses between the countries of the UK, Ireland and France is expected to come into force on 1 June 2014.
Formerly, any horse could travel freely to and from France from the UK with a valid horse passport (and no requirement for health papers). However, in order to reduce the quantity of unmonitored horse movements and the potential for disease spread, this has now been revoked and certification of horse health will be required. This means that the UK is better protected from the import of horses of unknown origin and disease status.
The new TPA contains provision for horses entered in FEI competition in France (plus Thoroughbreds and certain others) 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 country other than France will need to obtain health papers in the usual way.
Lee Hackett, BHS Director (Policy), said: "The BHS is delighted with these changes, along with many others we have been calling for them for a number of years.
"The previous arrangement was woefully inadequate for protecting Britain’s horses from disease so their revision is a huge step forward. Not many horse owners will be directly affected by the changes but it is essential that those who are make sure they have all of the necessary paperwork in place prior to shipping their horse to France."
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.
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has been authorised by Defra as an Approved TPA Body. This means that the BEF in turn needs to approve the shippers to produce DOCOMs and that these shippers comply with the BEF’s Terms. Any company wishing to apply to become an approved shipper should contact the BEF office.
Make sure you don’t get caught out. In order not to run the risk of being turned back at the port, please make sure that you have a DOCOM or health papers for all horses moving to France from 1 June 2014.
For queries relating to this change, please contact the British Equestrian Federation.