Competance Certifcates



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The rules and regulations that surround the transportation of our horses and ponies are getting increasingly complex. The latest offering of Competence Certificates is no exception. Jon Phillips, our Managing Director, outlines the new legislation:

Since 1st May 2008 (delayed from 6th Jan 08) anybody transporting animals (sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, birds or horses) over 60km (45miles) for commercial purposes or gain should have passed an assessment to receive a Certificate of Competence.

If you are employed to drive a horsebox or trailer, or act as a groom responsible for the horses during transport, you must have a Certificate of Competence. It is the “employment” part which constitutes the ‘commercial purposes’. It also applies to anyone sponsored to compete, or who competes with horses belonging to other people.

There are two levels of Certification:

Certificate in Equine Transport (CET)

This is designed for those transporting horses on journeys over 65 km but not exceeding eight hours (short journeys). There are two options - Attendant and Attendant/Driver. You will sit a short test either online or paper based.  If you have selected the Attendant only option, you will sit one test.  If you have selected the Attendant/Driver option, you will sit a second, shorter test. 

Advanced Certificate in Equine Transport (ACET)

This is designed for those transporting horses on short and long journeys (journeys exceeding eight hours). There are three options - Attendant, Driver and Attendant/Driver. You will sit one external test and be practically assessed on your horse handling and/or driving skills according to the options you have selected. The practical assessment will be subject to internal and external verification, which means that there is a quality assurance process in place to ensure that the assessment meets national standards.

The qualifications cover fitness to travel, the means of transport, use of facilities, loading, unloading, handling, watering, feeding intervals, journey times, rest periods, space allowance and documentation.

The basic assessment can either be computer or paper based and involve 25 generic questions and a further 5 questions specifically related to the type of animal (in our case equine) being transported. It will take you approximately 1 hour to sit the paper based test.

You WILL DEFINITELY need a Certificate of Competence if you are:

  • Transporting horses for hire or reward on journeys of over 65km or up to 8 hours
  • Transporting someone else’s horses for payment
  • Transporting horses for sale or to an abattoir for slaughter
  • Transporting horses as part of their business

You WILL NOT need a Certificate of Competence if you are:

  • Transporting horses not in connection with an economic activity
  • A farmer moving your own animals in your own vehicles for seasonal migration between pastures for a distance of less than 50km from their holding
  • Transporting horses directly to or from veterinary practices or clinics under the advice of a vet.
  • An individual transporting their own horse in their own vehicle for a non-economic activity on a journey of less than 65km or under 8 hours
  • A ‘ hobby breeder’, where the income from the hobby does not significantly exceed the expenditure
  • A person transporting their own horse in their own vehicle to a show or other event for the purpose of pleasure or recreation – the winning of minor prize money DOES NOT constitute an ‘economic activity’.
  • A person transporting another person’s horse in their vehicle for ‘petrol money‘, providing no profit is involved.

Owners of Registered horses (those registered in studbooks or with organisations managing competitions) being transported to competition and meets are exempt from keeping journey logs, on watering, feeding, rest intervals and journey times. However transporters will still need the WATO’s Certificates of Competence if the journey is in connection with an economic activity.

It should also be noted that there is a “Single Animal Exemption” that applies to both commercial and non-commercial transportation. This allows a single horse to travel accompanied by one person with responsibility for that horse (this does not have to be the horse’s owner). This exemption can cover up to 4 horses – with 4 people. The interesting part is that there is no definition as to what constitutes a “responsible person”.

VOSA are now deliberately targeting horseboxes and trailers. Our offices have now witnessed many instances of recent vehicle checks. One lady driving a 12 tonne horsebox was informed that she could not drive again for another nine hours because she was not using her tacho disc (they immediately assumed she had already driven the maximum hours for that period, a bit like a lost car-park ticket - assume the worst). A vehicle towing a trailer that was considered too heavy was stopped from going any further, as was another overweight 7.5 tonne horsebox (two horses onboard). We are also aware of several independent transporters  who were “just doing someone a favour” being pulled over in random checks. When asked for the horse passports they were obviously not in the name of the driver and there was no Operators Licence. In each case we had to send a Professional Transporter out to rescue the horses and their equipment.

However you transport your horses, ponies and driving equipment, just make sure that everything is correct and up-to-date. It is not easy and it is not cheap, but the alternative could leave you and your horses stranded in a layby somewhere for a very long time.

Further information on all aspects of equine transport may be found on our Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners site:


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