Microchipping and Passports 

Compulsory microchipping and passports for your horse

Following the introduction of compulsory passports for all horses in 2005, new European Union (EU) regulations, which came into effect on 1st July 2009, mean that all foals born after 1st July 2009 must now be microchipped before an owner can apply for an equine passport.

How does this affect my horse?

The microchipping rules do not apply to older horses with an existing passport which were born before 1st July 2009. However, any foal (horses, ponies, donkeys or mules) born after 1st July 2009 must be microchipped within six months of birth, or by December 31st of the year of birth, whichever is later.

Horses born before 1st July 2009, which do not have an existing passport, must also be microchipped when the passport is issued. Failure to correctly identify animals under the new rules could lead to a fine.

Microchipping is also seen as the best way of identifying an individual horse and it has advantages over the other methods of identification, because it is much harder to tamper with an implanted microchip.

How is microchipping performed?

First of all the horse is scanned to make sure that there is no existing microchip within the horse’s neck. The microchip, a small implant, about the size of a grain of rice, which contains a unique serial code is then inserted, via an injection, into the nuchal ligament, mid crest on the left side of the horse’s neck, usually under local anaesthetic. This procedure can only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon.

The horse owner’s details and a unique serial code are stored on a computerised database, which links the owner to the horse. It is therefore important that the owner’s details on the database are kept up to date.

Once the microchip has been implanted, an electronic microchip reader can easily read it.

The microchip cannot move or be seen – therefore, it is tamper-proof and permanent, unlike other more traditional methods of identification, such as freeze branding.

Although microchipping is considered very safe, there is a very small risk of bruising, abscess formation and on very rare occasions, migration of the microchip. In some horses a small area of white hair may grow in at the site of microchip implantation.

Microchipping and passports at Central Equine Vets

Picture 1: A microchip being inserted


To find out more about microchipping or to book your horse in to be microchipped, please contact Central Equine Vets on 0131 664 5606 or email us at info@centralequinevets.co.uk

85 Liberton DriveEdinburghEH16 6NS0131 664 5606find us
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