What you need to know about travelling abroad with your horse

Travelling with your horse

Whether your horse is competing overseas or you’re simply taking it on holiday, there may be a time when you need to take it abroad. Though it is not an overly complicated process, there are many things that you need to consider and do before, during and after transportation. To make things easier for you before your big trip, here we breakdown the key things that you need to know about travelling abroad with your horse.

Transportation options

Clearly the distance you are travelling and your final destination will have a significant bearing on what means of transportation you will use to get your horse there.

If you’re travelling to mainland Europe or Ireland you may well opt to simply load the horse aboard a horsebox or trailer and then travel across via ferry. It is also now possible to transport your horse to Europe via the channel tunnel, after Eurotunnel began accepting horses on their trains in 2010. Taking the train might be a better option for horses who suffer from seasickness during the ferry crossing. You can find out more about horses on the Eurotunnel and which companies provide travel arrangements here.

Whether you travel by ferry or train, make sure that your horsebox is in good working condition and has adequate horsebox insurance to cover overseas use. Additionally, be sure to stop regularly and provide good care and maintenance to your horses during the long journey.

Bear in mind that if travelling by ferry, most ferry firms will not transport horses when the sea is particularly rough, so make allowances for potential delays.

You can of course also transport your horse on a plane, and in some instances of particularly long distance travel this may be the only viable solution. A regular passenger 747 aircraft can carry up to four horses, while a specially converted 747 freight plane has the potential to carry more than 80.

Check that your horse is fit to travel

It should go without saying that your horse should only travel overseas if it is fit and healthy. On the one hand this is to protect the health and wellbeing of the animal, and on the other it is to guard against transmitting equine diseases across borders. Your horse should not be:

  • Unfit
  • Pregnant
  • Suffering from or carrying any illness

It is a mandatory requirement that you obtain a health certificate from a vet that declares that your horse is fit to travel. You must also ensure that your horse is up to date with all necessary vaccinations and worming treatments. All horses must also undergo a Coggins Test which certifies them free of Equine Infectious Anaemia prior to travel.  Check the requirements of your destination country and any you may pass through to see if they have any other specific tests that must be carried out before your horse is allowed to enter.


Just as people require documents to travel, so too do horses. In fact horses require far more pieces of paper. When travelling, your horse will need:

  • Health certificate issued by DEFRA, countersigned by a vet
  • Horse Passport
  • DEFRA-issued export license
  • Equine insurance documents
  • Vaccination and other related documents
  • Any documents required by the destination country
  • Don’t forget your own passport!

You will also need to have your horse micro-chipped.

Insurance for taking your horse abroad

When taking your horse abroad, it is essential that your horse insurance covers the animal for overseas travel. Without this, you could find yourself and your animal in a tricky predicament or lumped with a hefty cost for medical treatment and transportation.

If you need to know more about equine insurance for overseas travel, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Park Insurance.


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