Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group: avoid horse movements to EU in first two weeks of January

17 Nov 2020 BHA Features Brexit

The Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group, which leads horse racing’s preparations for the UK’s departure from the EU, has today advised members of the industry not to move horses to and from the EU unless absolutely necessary for at least the first two weeks of 2021.

With less than seven weeks to go before the transition period expires, there will be significant changes to how horses move between the UK and the EU from 1 January, irrespective of whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is signed.

Whilst British racing is in regular contact with the relevant government departments to gather information and best prepare the industry for Brexit, some details remain to be fully clarified and the new travel arrangements will also be entirely dependent upon any agreement which may be made by the UK government with the EU.

The steering group remains hopeful that any such FTA that is signed will allow the outstanding points of detail to be resolved quickly, but as things stand confirmation on a number of matters is still pending:

  • The UK’s status as a third country listing for animal health purposes following the end of the transition period
  • Authorisations to allow British transporters to operate within the EU and EU operators to operate in the UK
  • Recognition of the General Stud Book, (along with all other Stud Books and Breeding Books of all species), which identifies thoroughbreds and allows their movement as Registered horses.

Even in the event of agreements on these key areas for British racing being confirmed in the coming weeks, the Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group is of the view that there will be additional friction in moving thoroughbreds through key ports from 1 January, with the potential for initial disruption.

It is therefore advising that industry participants put off moving horses unless it is absolutely necessary within that initial two-week period, and to contact a transporter or shipping/customs agent for further guidance as a matter of priority.

Furthermore, following the confirmation of any FTA the Thoroughbred industry will need to understand the details of any equine health rules under which movements can take place as well as any replacement for the current Tripartite Agreement – originally made with France and Ireland – which currently governs Thoroughbred movements between Britain, France and Ireland.

The Chair of the Thoroughbred Industries Steering Group, Julian Richmond Watson said:

“We know that some people want to make plans for the New Year, but the picture will remain unclear until we know the terms of any new agreements between Britain and the EU.

“Even if there is an overarching trade deal, we will still need specific arrangements to be agreed covering the movement of thoroughbred horses.

“If industry members want to avoid the risk of delays or disruption, we advise them not to schedule movements in the first two weeks of 2021.

“Our message right now is ‘Stand By, Change is Coming’. We would ask participants to keep up to date with the latest information regularly via the Brexit page on and await direct communication from their membership body once we know the details.

“We continue to work closely with Defra and all other relevant UK government departments, who are well-informed about the needs of the racing and breeding industries. We are also in regular contact with our counterparts in Ireland and France and other EU jurisdictions.”