What are the laws around microchipping horses?

What are the laws around microchipping horses?

What is a microchip?

A microchip for pets is a tiny, grain of rice size computer chip that contains a unique code that when scanned, matches up to your pet’s details.

Central Equine Database (CED)

The central equine database holds all the information on your horse, which includes:

  • Your information as the keeper
  • Horse’s passport
  • Registered PIO
  • Microchip details

This database also allows you to:

  • Check your horse’s data is up to date
  • Report your horse missing or stolen
  • Set status’ and alerts on the national chip checker
  • Check if a horse is legally for sale

Microchips in horses

Microchipping a horse is quick and easy and is done by your vet. It is inserted via a needle in the back of the horse’s neck, and usually takes seconds to complete.

Once completed, your horse can be checked for a microchip with a scanner (handheld). When the scanner is waved over the horse’s neck, it will pick up your horse’s unique information held on the chip.

Why should I get my horse microchipped?

From 1st October 2020 it is a legal requirement for all horses, ponies, and donkeys to be microchipped and registered.
Not only does it help if your horse becomes lost or stolen, but it also holds irresponsible owners accountable for mistreating and abusing their horses.

‘Earlier this year RSCPA released figures that showed that they rescued around 1,000 horses in 2017, to highlight the issue of horses being fly-tipped or dumped, often in horrific conditions.’ GOV.uk

If you do not microchip your horse, you could face a fine of up to £200.

How and where?

Your vet will need to microchip your horse and it will cost around £25-£30.

Will it hurt?

Although microchipping is a quick procedure, it does involve a needle, so it will likely be uncomfortable for your horse, a bit like when they get their vaccinations.

If you suspect your horse has had a reaction, contact your vet straight away.

Will my horse be microchipped before I take them home?

If you’re looking at buying a new horse (exciting!), the horse must be microchipped before you take them home. The breeder should be the first registered keeper of the horse and should also pass on the correct microchip and passport paperwork to you – the new owner.

If a breeder has not microchipped and registered the horse before you decide to take your new companion home, and can’t give you a reason for the delay, do not go ahead with the purchase!

Whenever you buy or rescue a horse, pony, or donkey, ask your vet to scan their chip on your first visit to check it corresponds with the paperwork you have been given – just in case!

How do I change my horse’s microchip details?

Always update your horse’s details when you change address or name. To do this, contact the microchip and passport database that holds your horse’s details. Some databases charge an admin fee, as the cost of getting your horse microchipped only covers the implantation of the chip itself.

If you don’t keep your details up to date, the chances of you being reunited with your horse if they go missing significantly decreases, so don’t run the risk of losing your horse forever!


Below are the deadlines for getting your horse microchipped:

  • England – 1 October 2020
  • Wales – 12 February 2021
  • Scotland – 28 March 2021

British Pet Insurance Services offers a range of insurance policies on horses and ponies, with up to £5,000 vet fees and a range of optional extras. Select the level of cover to suit your needs.

Get a quote today