If a horse has not been previously issued with a passport it will require a microchip before a passport can be applied for.
Foals born since 1st August 2009 must be microchipped and have a passport issued before it is 6 months old or by 31 December in the year it’s born, whichever is later.
However, new legislation introduced in 2018 makes it a legal requirement for every horse, pony or donkey in the UK to be microchipped regardless of age. So even if they were born before 1st August 2009 they will need to be microchipped by 1st October 2020 (England), 12th February 2021 (Wales) or 28th March 2021 (Scotland).
Microchipping means that individual horses can readily be uniquely identified by anyone with an appropriate scanner.
Under the 2018 legislation, identification & passport details of every horse plus ownership details will be stored in a new Central Equine Database and owners will be able to flag if their horse is missing or stolen, making it difficult for them to be sold on.
The microchip is a small integrated circuit encased in medical grade glass, no bigger than a grain of rice. It is inserted via a needle into the nuchal ligament of the neck from the left hand side. It is virtually impossible to remove even under surgical conditions. The microchip is programmed with a unique number which can be read by a radio scanner. When the microchip is inserted your veterinary surgeon will ask you to fill out a form with all your and your horse's relevant information. This information is then stored on a database along with your horse's number. In any situation where the horse needs to be identified the database can be contacted and your details retrieved.