Covid-19 Coronavirus

Horse Shipments during COVID-19

Updated 20 July 2020

Standard Operating Procedure: Shipment of horses on the Steam Packet ferry during COVID-19 border closure

From Monday 20 July, the Isle of Man will move from Level 5 to Level 4 in the Isle of Man Borders Framework. From Friday 24 July, the Ben-My-Chree returns to its normal schedule and will be increasing its passenger traffic. This means that if you wish to transport a horse from Friday 24 July you can either:

  1. Make the whole journey from Isle of Man to UK premises and back, provided you have applied for and received a Manx Entry Permit which includes the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days on return to the Island, OR;

  2. Follow the below protocol in which you as the IOM driver remain on the boat and do not disembark at the UK port, and do not need to self-isolate for 14 days on return to the Island, however you will need to book a cabin for the return (UK-Douglas) part of the journey.
  • This is because from Friday 24 July there will be much greater numbers of people travelling on the Ben-My-Chree, and during that UK-Douglas leg those people will form a higher-risk group as they have been in the UK. Those people will need to self-isolate on arrival on the Island.
  • You as a horse transporter will need to be kept completely separate from that higher-risk group in order to be exempt from self-isolation, both for your own protection and for the protection of the wider community.
  • Due to the small supply and high demand for cabins it is advisable that you book well in advance in order to secure a cabin. If the sailing is cancelled, or not able to transport horses due to weather conditions, the IOMSPC will book you and your horse onto the next sailing that has a cabin available.

Please note As of 15/06/2020 all passengers on the IOMSPC ferry must wear face masks and observe social distancing requirements at all times.

If you are leaving the Island and taking your horse with you, please book with the Steam Packet Company (IOMSPC) as normal and follow the social distancing measures in place (including requirement for face masks) at all times during the journey.

Please note that if you are intending on returning to the Isle of Man with or without the horse, you need to ensure you have applied for and received a Manx Entry Permit.

If you are exporting or importing a horse but not yourself leaving the Island, the IOMSPC will follow the below Standard Operating Procedure designed to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission from the UK to IoM residents.

Welfare of Animals in Transport requirements

Horses cannot travel 'unaccompanied' on the boat. A person must be present on the sailing who is responsible for the horse’s welfare.

Welfare of Animals in Transport legislation (equivalent across all UK jurisdictions and the Isle of Man) must be complied with. Please see the Welfare of animals during transport page for details; please note in particular the requirements for transport of a commercial nature e.g. connected to a sale, or undertaken by a commercial haulier.

In order to comply with welfare in transport requirements it may be appropriate to break the journey for 48 hours at suitable premises near the UK port.

On the UK side it may be appropriate to drive to a suitable point near the UK port in order to unload the horse and reload onto a different vehicle, provided this can be done in way that ensures the safety of the horse and does not put it at risk of injury.

COVID-19 requirements

The person accompanying the horse during the sailing must be the IOM driver, not the UK driver. The IOM driver must not leave the boat at the UK port, but stay on board for the return sailing.

As of 24 July 2020 the IOM driver must book a cabin for the return UK-Douglas sailing, and follow IOMSPC directions to keep separate from other passengers, in order to be exempt from the requirement for a Manx Entry Permit and 14 days self-isolation.

The IOM driver must not be a person undergoing self-isolation or suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 at the time.

Before any 'handover' between the UK driver and the IoM driver or vice versa, when they leave the vehicle the first driver must sanitise the vehicle ready for the next driver. This includes the vehicle controls, keys and high-touch surfaces such as doors and handles. Keys are to be left in the cab.

Drivers follow IOMSPC direction and must comply with their social distancing requirements (including requirement for face masks) at all times.

Return of vehicles

An empty vehicle may be shipped as freight in order for the horse to be collected, or an empty vehicle may be returned following transport of the horse. In these cases the vehicle must be loaded and unloaded at either end by the respective drivers and as above the vehicle controls etc. must be sanitised in between UK/ IOM drivers.

If you import your horse with a UK vehicle you will need to re-export the vehicle within one month, or register it on the Isle of Man.

The vehicle must be cleansed and disinfected before the horse is loaded, and between horses if the same vehicle is going to be used again for another transport.

Exporting a horse

  1. Arrange bookings for the IOM driver and horse on an IOM-UK sailing, and for the IOM driver as a foot passenger with a cabin for the return UK-IOM sailing (and the empty vehicle, if applicable).

  2. The IOM driver accompanies the horse from its IOM origin premises to the UK port, as directed by the IOMSPC, complying with their social distancing requirements and sanitising of the vehicle as above. They remain on the vessel and are responsible for the horse during the sailing.

  3. The IOM driver, following IOMSPC protocols, undertakes the usual mid-sailing check on the horse followed by sanitising high-touch surfaces such as doors and handles.

  4. The UK driver arrives at the UK port and, as directed by IOMSPC staff, boards the boat on foot, checks the horse, drives the vehicle off the boat and carries on to its final destination or drop off point.

  5. The IOM driver remains on board and in their cabin for the return sailing to the Isle of Man. They are not required to have a Manx Entry Permit or spend 14 days in isolation provided they have booked and remain in their cabin during the return sailing.

Importing a horse

  1. A DEFA horse import licence will be required as usual and the import licence conditions complied with. These can be applied for online via www.gov.im/horseimports.

  2. Arrange bookings for the IOM driver as a foot passenger on an IOM-UK sailing (and the empty vehicle on the same sailing if applicable) and for the IOM driver with a cabin and vehicle with horse for the return UK-IOM sailing.

  3. IOM driver (and vehicle if applicable) makes the trip to the UK, remaining on the boat throughout.

  4. If applicable the UK driver boards the vessel on foot and collects the empty vehicle as directed by the IOMSPC and following their social distancing protocols.

  5. UK driver with horse in vehicle will arrive at the UK port, checks the vehicle in at the weighbridge and loads the vehicle onto the vessel when instructed.

  6. UK driver makes a final check on the horse, sanitises the vehicle etc. and disembarks when instructed to do so.

  7. IOM driver is responsible for the horse during the sailing to IOM. They remain in their cabin at all times except: Following IOMSPC protocols they undertake the usual mid-sailing check on the horse, followed by washing hands with soap and water as soon as possible. This check must be undertaken without coming into contact with other passengers.

  8. When the vessel arrives in Douglas the IOM driver drives the vehicle off the boat and to the horse premises. They are not required to have a Manx Entry Permit or spend 14 days in isolation provided they have booked and remained in their cabin – apart from the mid-sailing check – during the return sailing.

  9. Any equipment e.g. rugs, tack transported with the horse must be washed with soap and water as soon as possible after arrival and the vehicle cleansed and disinfected.

  10. Hand washing with soap and water is recommended after touching the horse for at least three days after arrival.
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