Brexit and Thoroughbred Movement

Since Brexit, the British Horseracing Authority has been working with other organisations in the industry to meet the challenges and opportunities which have emerged from EU Withdrawal.

Initially, this work was co-ordinated by the Thoroughbred Industry’s Brexit Steering Group and included representation from the BHA, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Racehorse Owners Association, Weatherbys and the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

Whilst the formal Steering Group has now disbanded, the BHA and the groups listed above continue to meet regularly, both with each other and with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The sport’s objective remains to reduce administrative burdens on the movement of high-health thoroughbreds internationally, ensuing this is underpinned by significant biosecurity and facilitated by digital technology.

Current Workstreams

British racing has worked constructively with Government since Brexit to secure important mitigations, including customs requirements, for the movement of thoroughbreds across borders. We welcomed the publication of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) in August 2023 which proposed a reduced checks regime for high health equines. The BTOM states: “For equines, we are exploring allowing verified racing equines to receive no routine checks at the border, in recognition of their especially high health status and level of veterinary supervision.”

Separately, the BTOM proposed a reduced checks frequency of 10% for other high health equines, which would include thoroughbreds being transported for breeding. We believe that all high health equines used for racing, breeding and competitions should be subject to no routine checks at the border and we are working with the thoroughbred breeding industry and DEFRA to reach a solution ahead of the BTOM going live in October 2024.

We are also working closely with DEFRA on the introduction of a digital Equine ID system which will further help facilitate the movement of racehorses across borders. We believe it is crucial this system is ready when the BTOM goes live to ensure the frictionless movement of racehorses between the UK and EU.

While we have welcomed the publication of the BTOM, we believe further work needs to be done to ensure that proposed border inspection systems for other equines are safe and practical. There remains the risk that additional checks on the wider horse population will disrupt the flow of traffic between the UK and EU and disrupt the safe passage of racehorses. British racing and other equestrian stakeholders are currently liaising closely with DEFRA on how best to progress this so that horses can continue to be transported safely and easily across the border.”

VAT on Temporary Export and Import of Thoroughbreds

A new, industry-specific, facilitation has now been agreed by HMRC to the Temporary Admission procedure. This allows intermediaries (such as a transporter or shipper) to apply for an authorisation enabling them to move thoroughbreds under multiple ownerships, without the need for a financial guarantee to be provided on these movements.

Please refer to the HMRC Stakeholder Briefing and our Q&A for further information on this facilitation.