Export documents are required for any horse crossing the border to the United States, and for any horse being exported to another country. Although export papers seem like an unreasonable hassle, they play a vital role in preventing the transmission of infectious disease, and allow for tracking of horses in case of an outbreak. Cases of piroplasmosis in Florida and CEM on several farms in the US underscore the importance of this process.
While crossing the border is usually quite simple, preparation is the key to a smooth trip! It is a good idea to start the process of obtaining your travel documents 7-10 days prior to departure, which allows enough time to prepare the paperwork and obtain government authorization.
The general steps necessary for obtaining export documents are as follows: You will need a Coggins (Equine Infectious Anemia Virus - EIAV) test with a negative result taken within six months of departure. If the Coggins will expire after you leave but before you return, you should get a new one. Turnaround time for a Coggins test is 2-3 days minimum. A veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your horse to detect evidence of any infectious disease. It is important to let the veterinarian know if there have been any outbreaks on the property recently, and they will need to see the original copy of the Coggins test. If your horse is grey, be sure to make the veterinarian aware of any "invisible" white markings that may only be evident if the horse is wet or clipped. The documents, which include a drawing of your horse's markings and brands, as well as the address of destination, confirmation of negative Coggins test, and owner information, will be signed by the attending veterinarian.
This document, as well as THE ORIGINAL COPY of the negative Coggins test, must be taken to the federal veterinary office in your district for an official stamp. At the border, your documents will be inspected. The official veterinarian may or may not choose to unload your horse or search your trailer. A fee will be involved with the inspection, please check the website at your planned crossing for details. Problems usually arise if the documents do not match the horse, or if the Coggins test and export papers have conflicting information. Fortunately, this is rare! This is the most simple scenario for export. There are additional requirements depending on the health and breeding status of the horse, and on the country of destination. (RSLVS)