Covid-19 Coronavirus

Horse Shipments during COVID-19

Standard Operating Procedure: Shipment of Horses on the Steam Packet ferry during COVID-19

Issued 27/05/2020

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 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 permission to re-enter as without a valid exemption certificate you won’t be allowed back in. 

If you are exporting a horse but not yourself leaving the Island, or importing a horse, the IOMSPC will follow this 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 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 Heysham port. 

On the UK side it may be appropriate to drive to a suitable point near Heysham 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 Heysham, but stay on board for the return sailing.

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 at all times. 

Return of vehicles etc.

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-Heysham sailing, and for the IOM driver as a foot passenger for the return Heysham-IOM sailing (and the empty vehicle, if applicable). 
  2. The IOM driver accompanies the horse from its IOM origin premises to Heysham 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 Heysham 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 for the return sailing to the Isle of Man. They are not required to spend 14 days in isolation. 

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. On creation, the licence will automatically be emailed to the IOMSPC Freight Office, removing the requirement to hand-over a paper copy. 
  2. Arrange bookings for the IOM driver as a foot passenger on an IOM-Heysham sailing (and the empty vehicle on the same sailing if applicable) and for the IOM driver and vehicle with horse for the return Heysham-IOM sailing. 
  3. IOM driver (and vehicle if applicable) makes the trip to Heysham, 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 Heysham 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. 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. 
  8. When the vessel arrives in Douglas the IOM driver drives the vehicle off the boat and to the horse premises. The driver is not required to spend 14 days in isolation. 
  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. 

This Standard Operating Procedure may be revoked at any time, due to the evolving situation.

Animal Health can be contacted on +44 01624 685844 or agriculture@gov.im

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