Karl Hoopes, DVM


Living with and working with horses can be an enjoyable and exciting lifestyle, and it brings specific responsibilities. Owners are responsible for knowing and adhering to the laws governing the health and safety of each horse they transport.

Laws and requirements are designed to secure the safety of equine populations within a state. Each state has the responsibility of protecting livestock populations within its borders and to develop rules and regulations to carry out that task.

Communicable diseases can spread between animals and from animals to people. To ensure the health of both populations, states require different certifications.

Intrastate travel

While traveling with horses within state boundaries, only one document or “proof of ownership” is required:

n A brand inspection certificate showing ownership of the animal.

n An auction invoice showing where the horse was purchased and by whom.

n A recorded brand (with card in possession) matching the brand on the horse.

n Breed registration papers in the owner’s name.

If you are traveling with a nursing foal, it is covered under one of the above documents required for the mare.

The “proof of ownership” must be in possession of the transporter. If hauling a horse owned by someone else, you must carry written permission in addition to the owner’s proof of ownership. A bill of sale from an individual does not qualify as a proof of ownership. A certified bill of sale for proof of ownership from nonbrand-inspected states may be accepted in some states on a case-by-case basis. The private sale of a horse requires the seller to provide a proof of ownership to the buyer. This is achieved with a brand inspection certificate provided by the seller.

Brand inspection

Brand inspection certificates are issued by a state livestock inspector.

This requirement can be met by the following: 72-hour travel inspection (one-way), yearly travel inspection (round-trip) and a lifetime travel permit (honored in all 50 states and Canada for the life of the horse.)

Interstate travel

Transporting horses across state lines requires additional laws. Most states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a licensed, USDA-accredited veterinarian and all require proof of a negative equine infectious anemia test done within the past six to 12 months, depending on the state. The responsibility of complying with these laws lies with the owners of the livestock and is enforceable by livestock inspectors, certified law enforcement officers and the State Veterinarian’s Office. See a list of requirements for each state on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website tinyurl.com/AVMA-travel. Consequences of violating these laws include citations and horses being impounded with all associated fees paid by the owner. The state the horse is leaving governs the brand inspections, protecting the livestock population from theft.

The state the horse is entering governs the import requirements, protecting their livestock and human populations from disease and providing proof of ownership of the animals. Requirements for the state you are entering should be discussed with a veterinarian and livestock inspector.

Karl Hoopes, DVM, is the equine specialist at Utah State University Extension and assistant professor in the USU School of Veterinary Medicine. Before joining the faculty at USU, Karl worked as a mixed-practice veterinarian. He can be reached at karl.hoopes@usu.edu.