Free Movement of Horses for Sporting Purposes

Free Movement of Goods

Goods from both European Union Member States and countries outside the European Union have been circulating freely within the European Community since 1993.

Temporary importation of goods  

Elimination of all administration documents

Since the introduction of the new VAT scheme and the elimination of all administration documents required for intra-community trade all previous provisions which related to the temporary importation of goods are no longer applicable.

Temporary Importation of Sporting Equipment

This has meant that the temporary importation of sporting equipment for use in competitions or for any other sporting activity is entirely exempt from restrictions.

There are, however, still some issues which need to be tackled by the European Union Member States.

Transfer of Horses for Sporting Competition

Legislation involving animals has been adopted directly by the European Union in relation to horses, dogs and pigeons. The legal basis for the provisions of the European Union in this area is provide for by Article 37(2) of the EC Treaty which provides the European Commission to propose legislative measures in relation to agriculture.

Albeit that the basis of the European Union Legislation is in relation to agriculture this can be directly applicable to the sport of horse riding.

Accordingly there have been three framework directives which have been adopted in relation to the movement or horses (equidae) which are directly applicable to horse riding. They are as follows:

  • Council Directive 90/426/EEC – minimum health requirements

  • Council Directive 90/427/EEC – Zootechnical and genealogical conditions

  • Council Directive 90/428/EEC – trade in horses and their participation in competitions

Minimum Health Requirements

The free movement of horses within the European Community is subject to certain minimum animal health requirements which must be adhered to. Specifically the animals should not show any critical signs of disease when they are examined. Under this Directive all horses are required to have a passport which must be present with the horse when traveling to another European Union Member State.

Horses imported from countries outside the European Union

Horses which have been imported from countries outside the European Union must adhere to the following minimum conditions:

  • They must come from a country which is on the list of countries accepted by the commission

  • They must have a certificate issued by the veterinary authorities of the country outside the European Union

  • They must be certified fee of disease

In regards to the above three points the European Commission often updates the list of countries outside the European Union which are free from dangerous diseases.

Further Decisions

The European Commission has also adopted two further decisions which impact the free movement of horses throughout the European Union for purposes of sporting competition. They are as follows:

  • Decision 93/197/EC which states that equide for breading should have veterinary certification

  • Decision 93/195/EC which establishes the health requirements for the re-entry of registered horses for racing and cultural events after a temporary exit

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For more information on:

  • What is the reason for the health requirements?
  • Quarantine measures
  • Zootechnical and genealogical conditions
  • Trade in horses and their participation in competitions
  • Does this directive simply apply to horses which are registered?
  • Discrimination
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Safeguarding and Improving Breeding