Regional Equine Passport Program Eases Interstate Travel

Twelve southern states have formed an agreement allowing horse owners to use some form of equine travel permit, sometimes called an equine ”passport,” when entering participating states.

This voluntary program enables owners to opt for a document that takes the place of the traditional 30-day vet health certificate. Its purpose is ”to provide the equine industry a more economical method of complying with interstate movement requirements when moving for exhibition purposes,” according to Florida’s Division of Animal Industry.

According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Web site, ”Some states have had reciprocal agreements in the past, but this is the first agreement of its kind in [the] South.”

To bring a horse into most states, owners or transporters must provide proof of a negative equine infectious anemia (EIA) test, AKA the Coggins test, and an official certificate of veterinary inspection for each horse. Health certificates expire after 30 days, but the new passport program documents are good for six months.

The programs have various names, ranging from Florida’s Equine Interstate Passport Card, to North Carolina’s Equine Animal Permit or Georgia’s Equine Event Permit. Each state also has its own application requirements, method of application and fees. In some states, owners can apply directly; in others, they must apply through their veterinarians. Usually, each state’s Department of Agriculture issues the documents. (See chart for more details.)

Generally, to apply for an equine passport, owners must submit a current veterinary health certificate and proof of a negative Coggins test for their horse. In addition, to receive approval for an equine passport, horses must be identified by a tattoo, brand or electronic implant (microchip) or by digital photos.

Most states participating in the agreement have common rules for entry, but several have additional requirements. For example, if the horse is identified with a microchip, the owner/transporter must carry a working microchip scanner when entering Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia. Some states require horse owners to carry the Coggins test paper in addition to the passport, and some may require owners to carry an up-to-date itinerary to document the movement of the horse. (Owners should contact the state veterinarian in the state they plan to enter for a list of current entry requirements.)

As of January 2007, participating states were: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

One more thing to consider for those concerned with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS): Before they will issue an equine passport, some states require the location where the horse resides to be registered with the NAIS program.

To learn more about the equine passport, check with your veterinarian, your state’s department of agriculture or state veterinarian’s office, your county extension agent or search online for your state.

Note: Equine travel passports are valid for six months OR until expiration of the EIA test, whichever comes first. All applicable fees, such as for EIA testing, still apply, in addition to any passport fees. If you must apply through your vet, he or she may charge a fee for that service, as well.

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