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2013 Federal Travel Regulations for Horses

Updated on February 22, 2013

As we head into warmer Spring weather and near Summer we need to consider that we may be venturing further from home with our horses in tow. Many of you that have travelled across state lines know that you need to acquire a Veterinary Inspection (Health Certificate) plus other papers necessary for the state you are travelling to. Also, papers that are required by the specific location or facility you will be at during your away stay need to travel with your horse. This may include proof of a negative Coggins Test, the test for Equine Infectious Anemia, within a certain time frame, usually six months, before you are allowed to unload on the grounds.

This does not sound like much of a change and it is not. A lot of states have been working toward aligning with the upcoming federal regulations that become effective March 11th. You have probably heard a few years back of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) which tried hard to encourage voluntary participation in traceability of livestock namely for disease outbreaks. Some supported the program while others shrugged it off. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) reconsidered its approach and now all states require an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI) or other state approved documentation to accompany a horse crossing its boarders.


What is the difference you may ask of the past proposed NAIS system vs. the current ICVI? NAIS required a premise registration that is now taken out of the mix and also wanted each individual animal identified. The realization was that horse owners and other livestock owners already were used to getting a health certificate to travel and this new ICVI is not much of a change. Plus NAIS started off as being recommended and now ICVI is a regulation imposed by the federal government.


Identification Characteristics

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Height
  • Color
  • Weight or Body Condition Score
  • Face Markings
  • Leg Markings
  • Brand (Hot Iron or Freeze)
  • Scar or Blemish
  • Chestnuts
  • Eye Color
  • Whorls
  • Lip Tattoo

Basically the simple Veterinary Inspection has turned into a more thorough assurance that horse transport is being tracked. The past years disease outbreaks in equines tended to restrict horse movement and this system should help to minimize the economic impact on the industry. Make sure your identification papers show your equine properly though. If there are descrepancies in the paperwork from the actual animal in your trailer there will be an investigation. Microchips are an option but are not necessary.

It is the states responsibility to issue, maintain and retrieve data on movements. The issuing state representative, your veterinarian usually, has seven days to get a copy of the papers to the state of origin. They then in turn have seven days to get a copy to the state of destination. Prepare for the additional time it takes to acquire the proper paperwork and make sure you have your appointments set up accordingly. Remember, veterinarians are extremely busy so get your times set before you need them to be completed. Some tests, like the Coggins Test, need to be done in order to get the results back so the paperwork can be given to you. In some cases you may be able to get an event passport for your horse.


Since this is a fairly new means of doing things discuss this with your veterinarian. They are in the know. For more information on animal tracibility you may like to check out the Federal Register on the final ruling.

Happy travels to you and your horse.



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