Owners of horses, ponies and donkeys in England will face a £200 fine if they are not microchipped by October 2020.

The introduction of compulsory microchipping in England – and fines of £200 for those who do not comply – is a “huge advance” for equines, experts believe.

The previous chipping requirements, which only applied to equines born since July 2009, were extended, and this became law on Monday 25 June 2018.

Owners have until October 2020, after which those who fail to chip horses, ponies or donkeys, could be issued with sanctions by local authorities including compliance notices or, as a “last resort” fines of up to £200.

“The government shares the British public’s high regard for animal welfare and it is completely unacceptable that hundreds of horses and ponies are abandoned every year by irresponsible owners,” said animal Welfare Minister Lord Gardiner.“That is why we have laid [the] new regulations in Parliament. This will bolster the ability of local authorities and police to identify abandoned animals, ensuring these beautiful creatures receive the care they deserve and that those who mistreat them will face the consequences.”

Once the law is in force, the Central Equine Database will enable Local Authorities and Police to track down the owners of dumped horses and “make sure they are punished and the animals given the care they deserve.”

Jeanette Allen, Chairman of the British Horse Council, said the Council had been working closely with Defra. “This is a huge advance for horses, ponies and donkeys,” she added. “It will not only enable irresponsible owners to be held properly accountable for the treatment of their animals, it will also help reunite owners with lost or stolen horses and significantly supports UK efforts to protect equines from disease outbreaks.”


Roly Owers of WHW stated “As well as the responsibility of local authorities to enforce, the horse community must take responsibility for making the Central Equine Database fulfil its purpose by ensuring their horses’ details are kept up to date with passport-issuing authorities.

“Not only will this help owners safeguard horses but the information will be imperative in managing any disease outbreaks.”

Mr Owers said the new law is a “hugely significant step forward.” “The ability to link every horse to an owner ensures owners can be accountable for welfare problems or abandonment, rather than discarding unwanted animals with no consequences,” he added.

“It is particularly positive that with the introduction of civil sanctions, local authorities will be able to recover costs of enforcement – removing this potential barrier to doing so.”