Chips Away!

Compulsory microchipping of equines

Under the Equine Identification (England) Regulations 2018 which gradually phased in microchipping for all equines in England. As of 1 October 2020 it will become law for almost all horses, ponies and donkeys to have a microchip. In this blog, Rural Surveyor, Claire Wright, takes a look at the reason for the change, what owners of equines will have to do to comply and which equines will be exempt from this requirement.

Horse at sunrise
As of 1 October 2020 it became law for almost all horses, ponies and donkeys to have a microchip

There are two main reasons why these regulations were brought into law – to enable authorities to identify equines that are being mistreated or running wild and to provide a record of ownership which will help reunite an animal with its owner should it be lost or stolen.

The regulations explicitly state that only a veterinary surgeon can implant a chip into an equine. The chip will be scanned to ensure it is functioning before a large needle is used to insert the chip in the nuchal ligament in the neck roughly between the poll and the withers. The procedure takes just seconds. After the chip has been inserted it will need checking again to double check that it is working. The cost of chipping is between £25 to £30 but there will likely be a call-out fee on top of this price.

Register your chip

The final step is to ensure that your new microchip is registered with your passport issuing organisation so that the details can be put on the Central Equine Database. If your horse has been microchipped already then you should check on to make sure the chip and passport is linked correctly.

It is the responsibility of the owner or the keeper to ensure that details held on the Central Equine Database are accurate. You have 30 days from change of ownership to update details with the Passport Issuing Organisation. There may be a small fee for making these administrative changes.


There are some equines that will be exempt from these regulations but this is limited to a small number of animals that are classed as wild or semi-wild such as those grazing on Exmoor or Dartmoor. However if one of these animals requires veterinary treatment with a medicinal product then the keeper has 30 days to implant a microchip and have the animal passported. Horses that were previously exempt by virtue of being born before the 30 June 2009 are no longer exempted and will require a microchip.


If you fail to microchip your horses then local authorities have a range of sanctions to enforce compliance ranging from compliance notices requiring you to take action through to a fine of £200 for failure to comply.

Key contact:

Claire Wright (9).jpg
Claire Wright National Access Adviser, London