Temporary importation

Temporary importation

However, there are also many situations where you may want to import a horse that you haven't actually purchased.  Think of  the horses of a foreign rider who comes over to train with you or to participate in the equestrian events in your neighborhood and during that time he stays at your stable. Or a mare that is stabled with you for breeding purposes. The intention is that the horse(s) will leave the territory soon (within a reasonable period of time). In this case, we are talking about 'temporary importation'.  This can also be covered by an ATA Carnet.  Again, what is important is the horse's country of origin - does he come from another EU member state or from a third country?

FROM EU MEMBER STATE  Temporary imports from another EU member state:

FROM EU COUNTRY - TRACES This is in fact quite simple, since there is no trade transaction.  The horse can come to your stable if accompanied by a valid passport and a TRACES health certificate (intra-EU certificate).  Remember to do the identification and studbook registration in a timely manner according to the rules that apply in your country!

FROM NON-EU COUNTRY  Temporary imports from a third country (non-EU member state)

FROM EU COUNTRY - GUARANTEE (valid for 1 year) Same as in the case of permanent import (see above) taxes are due, in principle immediately upon arrival at the EU's point of entry (first external border crossing).  You are going to be charged import duties and VAT but now they are called 'customs deposit' or 'guarantor'. The amount of this guarantee corresponds to the sum of the import duties and VAT, plus a possible administrative fee. As with the permanent imports, calculation of the taxes due will be based on the value of the horse, customs fees and cost of transport from the country of origin. This deposit is a guarantee to the customs authorities, a sort of 'commission' in case your horse doesn't leave EU in a timely manner. You can normally keep a temporarily imported horse in EU for one (1) year, after which the horse must leave the EU territory (i.e be exported to a third country).  Once the horse has been exported in the correct way, customs will proceed with the refund of the total deposit amount, minus the regularisation fee (currently approximatey 300€).
Let's say that as a horse owner you have travelled to Europe with a group of horses, all temporarily imported, and that you have sold one or more of your horses during your stay in Europe. You know, "an offer I can't refuse!" kind of situation. There is still a possibility to sort this out - you will have to present the horse to the customs in the country of entry and they will transform his status from the temporary importation into a permanent one. The horse will be permanently imported into EU under the name of the new owner as per the sales invoice and you'll need to pay VAT and import duties (unless you are subject to one of the exemptions listed in 'Permanent Import' section). However, your deposit will be now refunded to you.
Please note that even if a temporary importation is normally only valid for a maximum of 1 year, in certain cases and in some countries it can be extended to 2 years.  In any case, the horse will either have to leave the EU or be transformed into a permanent import before the expiry of the allowed period. Otherwise the owner or his/her representative is in violation of the tax law and he will be fined (at least 500€).
Lastly, please note that when declaring the value of the horse for temporary importation customs, the law requires you to indicate a "fair value", whatever it may be... We advise our customers to indicate  a "reasonable value" -  the value for which you have insured the horse (you can prove this) or the price you paid for him at the time of purchase (submit an invoice, if possible).

What if you have an expensive horses for which the deposit could be (very) high?  Or if your horses travel to and from European Member States several times a year? Then we recommend the use of an ATA Carnet. It is like a tax passport for your horses (and their equipment).  You will have to register the horses in the country of origin before the departure (usualy in your Chamber of Commerce or equivalent) in order to receive an ATA Carnet, which should mention all the goods you might be shipping (horses, equipment, dog etc). Depending on the country of departure you might be asked for a one-time deposit. Once the ATA Carnet is validated by the customs in the country of origin, it allows you to cross multiple borders with very few customs formalities. You will not have to pay a deposit or other taxes neither. You can normally use such a carnet for one full calendar year, after which you will have to register it again in your country of origin or request a new ATA Carnet. Unfortunatelly not all countries participate in this international treaty - in Mexico for example this system is not possible. However, all european countries, the United States of America, Canada and many more, have all endorsed the treaty. 

Legal provisions

  • The above text is a free interpretation of the legislation and practices as known and in force at the time of the publication.  This text is purely informative and does not replace the laws or regulations in force and should not be regarded as such.
  • Changes can be made without prior communication.
  • EHS bvba can never be held responsible for any problem arose with the import customs declaration and/or as a result of the control of the Customs and Tax Administrations.  The owner of the goods (horses, equipment, accessories etc) is at all times responsible for indicating the correct values of his marchandise. Any additional taxes, costs, interest, fines and the like (non-exhaustive list) resulting from tax and customs technical checks and/or investigations are always to be covered by the owner or his representative.