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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Bring Horses into the U.S. from South Africa

? Day
Quarantine
African Horse Sickness Unknown
Screwworm Unknown
Contagious Equine Metritus Unknown
Foot and Mouth Disease Unknown

Horses imported to the United States from screwworm-free regions transiting screwworm-affected regions via air, land or sea will require a minimum of 7 days in quarantine at an APHIS Animal Import Center.

General Information

Generally, horse owners will enlist the services of a broker/shipping agent to bring a horse into the United States. While APHIS does not require use of a broker/shipping agent for importing horses, experienced brokers can coordinate the efforts of airlines, customs brokers, APHIS and other partner government agencies to ensure the safety of the animals, facilitate clearance of the shipment, and schedule a timely arrival. These agents are familiar with the documents and processing associated with import and export regulations. Learn more about using a broker/shipping agent.

USDA APHIS considers certain countries to be affected with African Horse Sickness (AHS).  If you are seeing this message, you are seeking information about the requirements to import a horse from a country considered affected with African Horse Sickness.

Horses traveling from AHS-affected countries have specific restrictions and requirements that must be adhered to, or fulfilled, during the importation process to prevent the introduction of AHS into the United States.  All horses entering the United States from AHS-affected countries must undergo a 60 day post-arrival quarantine in a specially designed USDA Animal Import Center.  Horses will be kept inside and under strict biosecurity measures for the entire 60 day quarantine procedure.  At this time, the only approved facility to handle these horses is the New York Animal Import Center (NYAIC).  Advanced notice is required for the importation of horses from AHS-affected countries as modifications to the NYAIC facility may be necessary to house these horses. 

Besides the extended quarantine period, there are no other AHS-specific quarantine restrictions beyond those required for the other diseases of concern when importing a horse into the United States (see below).

The fly species that lay screwworm larvae in living tissue has been eradicated from the United States, Mexico and Central America but is still found in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, India and Africa.

  1. Any horse importing from screwworm affected regions must have a veterinarian treat the horse with ivermectin 3 to 5 days prior to the date of Import into the United States according to the recommended dose prescribed on the product's label.

  2. Horses must be examined for screwworm by a full-time salaried veterinary official of the exporting country within 24 hours prior to shipment to the United States.  The official must fully examine the horses, including their external genitalia. If horses are found to be infested with screwworm, they must be treated until free from infestation.

  3. At the time horses are loaded onto a means of conveyance for export, a veterinarian must treat any visible wounds on the animals with a solution of coumaphos dust at a concentration of 5% active ingredient or an appropriate alternative.

  4. Horses must be accompanied to the United States by a certificate signed by a full-time salaried veterinary official of the exporting country.  The certificate must state that the horses, including their external genitalia, have been thoroughly examined and found free of screwworm.

  5. Horses must be quarantined upon arrival in the United States at an APHIS animal import center for at least 7 days.

  6. Horses must be examined for screwworm by a veterinarian within 24 hours after arrival at an APHIS animal import center in the United States.  The examining veterinarian must examine horses, including their external genitalia, to determine whether the horse is infested with screwworm.

  7. Horses must be held at the animal import center for a minimum of 7 days. On day 7, prior to the horses' release, the horses must be examined by a veterinarian at the expense of the owner or broker.  For this examination, male horses must be tranquilized or sedated so that the external genitalia of the horses can be thoroughly examined.  If screwworm is found during this examination, the horses must be held in quarantine and treated until free of infestation.

Horses Importing into the United States from Countries Affected With Foot and Mouth Disease

The official health certificate should document that the horse is importing form a country affected with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The health certificate accompanying the horse must be endorsed by a full-time salaried veterinarian of the agency responsible for animal health of the national government of the exporting country (the competent veterinary authority).

The health certificate should state:

  • Within 5 days prior to export, the horse has not been on any premises or quarantined area identified to be affected with FMD, nor has the horse been in contact with animals that have been in a FMD region or on an FMD affected or quarantined premise. The horse will not have direct or indirect contact with domestic or wild ruminants or swine for a minimum of five days before entering the USDA quarantine facility.

  • Immediately prior to export, horses from countries where FMD exists, as well as horses in contact with any horses from those countries, will be groomed to remove dirt and debris, followed by being wiped, sprayed and/or sponged down with vinegar or a solution of 6.5 ounces of concentrated glacial acetic acid in one gallon of water or another approved disinfectant.

  • Immediately prior to export, the horse’s hooves will be cleaned and free of dirt, manure and debris, and then disinfected with a 4% sodium carbonate solution or another approved disinfectant. The same procedure will be performed upon arrival in the United States at one of USDA’s animal import quarantine centers.

USDA APHIS considers certain countries to be affected with contagious equine metritis (CEM), a venereal disease of equine. These conditions apply to the country that you have selected. 

All stallions and mares over 731 days of age, and stallions and mare less than 731 days of age if ever used for breeding, must undergo CEM isolation and testing after completing the initial Federal import quarantine. Horses will be sent directly to an approved State CEM quarantine of the importer’s choice for this testing. States Approved for Conducting CEM Testing

Geldings of any age and non-domesticated zoo equine species, if captured in the wild or from a zoo facility that have not had contact with domestic horses, are exempt from CEM requirements.

CEM Testing for Permanent Entry:
Testing of mares consists of an initial complement fixation (CF) blood test for CEM, and 3 sets of culture swabs over a 12 day period, followed by 5 days of scrubbing and coating with an antibacterial ointment of the external genitalia. Culture swabs and CF results must be negative in order for the mare to be released from CEM quarantine. If any tests are positive, the test and treatment procedure must be repeated until negative results are obtained.

Testing of stallions consists of one set of culture swabs from the external genitalia, followed by live cover breeding to 2 test mares.  The stallion’s external genitalia will be scrubbed and coated with an antibiotic ointment for 5 days following test breeding. Beginning on day 3 after breeding, culture swabs are collected from the test mare on 3 separate occasions over a 12 day period.  Test mares are tested by CF between days 21-28 after breeding.  All cultures and CF results from the stallion and test mares must be negative in order for the stallion to be released from quarantine.  If any tests are positive, the cultures, test breeding and treatment procedures are repeated until negative results are obtained.

Requirements and Approval Procedures for Labs to Conduct CEM Testing

Horses participating in competitions staying in the U.S. under 90 days
A CEM Waiver for competition is available only for horses participating in specific competitions. These horses are limited to a stay under 90 days. USDA APHIS VS will monitor these horses while in the United States throughout their travels and at venues to restrict their access to domestic horses. Temporary CEM-isolation facilities are arranged in advance of an event. APHIS VS monitors movements of these horses. A signed compliance agreement is made between VS and the facility operator prior to APHIS VS issuing permits for import.  The entire travel itinerary within the U.S. is listed on the import permit.  Deviations from this preplanned travel are only allowed if approved and amended to the import permit or in emergency situations.

An import permit is required for CEM Waiver, CEM Exempt horses and for any horse that will undergo CEM post-arrival testing. Horses being imported under any of these conditions will undergo standard import quarantine upon arrival in the U.S., including testing for dourine, glanders, equine infectious anemia and equine piroplasmosis.

Re-entering the U.S.
Horses originally from the United States who have been in CEM-affected regions less than 60 days and are re-entering the United States are not required to undergo CEM testing provided they were not used for breeding and remained separate from other horses except to train and compete while in CEM-affected regions (See supplementary certificate for U.S. returning horses).

The original hard copy bearing a unique certificate number veterinary health certificate should accompany the horse.  Age of the horse and breeding status must be certified on the health certificate. The health certificate must be endorsed by a salaried national government veterinary official from the country of origin after it is signed by the examining veterinarian.

Health Certificate

An official hard copy valid health certificate, written in English, is required for entry. The official health certificate must be issued by an authorized veterinarian in the exporting country and endorsed by a full-time salaried veterinarian of the agency responsible for animal health of the national government of the exporting country of origin. 

Certification and testing is described in the following Health Certificates

*Please Note: The original health certificate MUST accompany the shipment upon arrival.

Certification and testing is described in the attached Horse Import 60-Day CEM FMD Screwworm Sample Health Certificate.

Available Ports

The New York Animal Import Center is the only quarantine premise that accepts horses from AHS countries.

New York Animal Import Center (NYAIC)
474 International Blvd
Rock Tavern, NY 12575
Office: (845) 838-5500
Fax: (845) 838-5516

Quarantine Information

Horses coming from this country are a high risk of harboring and spreading African horse sickness (AHS) and require a minimum of 60 days in quarantine before entering the United States.  

The New York Animal Import Center is the only quarantine premise that accepts horses from AHS countries.

Blood tests for dourine, glanders, equine piroplasmosis, and equine infectious anemia will be performed on arrival at NYAIC.  Horses must test negative for all these diseases, and must show no signs of illness in order to be released from quarantine. If originating from a country APHIS considers to be free of contagious equine metritis, they will be released after completing the initial quarantine without any further testing.

To officially enter the United States, horses from this country will require:

  • An official health certificate, issued by the exporting country.
  • An import permit, issued by the National Import Export Services.
  • A reservation at NYAIC, as well as at an approved CEM quarantine facility, if applicable.

Fees & Permitting

The processes and fees involved with importing horses and other equine, as well as equine germplasm (semen, embryos and cloning tissue) depend on the conditions of entry.

APHIS charges a fee for the application of an import permit, and for amending and renewing a permit if applicable.

Permit Application VS 17-129

Applications for import permits may be submitted by mail to the National Import and Export Services at the following address:

Live Animal Import Permits
USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services
National Import Export Services
4700 River Rd. Unit 39
Riverdale, MD 20737

Applications may be submitted to the National Import and Export Services via the dedicated email address LAIPermits@usda.gov

Online Submission Process for Live Animal Import Permits:  Importers with an existing Level 2 eAuthentication can now access eFile to create and submit a completed application (VS Form 17-129) for an import or transit permit for APHIS-regulated live animals and their germplasm (genetic resources). Apply now in APHIS eFile.

Costs are associated with providing services for importing and transiting horses at airports, ocean ports, rail ports, land border ports, and southern border port and animal import center quarantines.

The fees billed are per individual horse. Charges for combined shipments may be split between brokers.

Overtime rates apply for after duty hours, weekends and holidays for inspection services. 9CFR 130.30

There is a comprehensive fee for horses staying at a federal quarantine center with a decreasing scale: days 1 to 3, days 4 to 7 and 8 through subsequent days. The daily rate includes all administrative costs conducted during normal business hours: examination on arrival, routine veterinary care, lodging costs for feed and bedding, obtaining test samples and processing them for shipping to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, supervision of cleaning and disinfection of trailers and stalls, receiving and releasing horse shipments, identification of each horse on arrival and release, reviewing health certificates and issuing import permits to ensure compliance with import regulations, monitoring horses while they are in quarantine, release of paperwork in Veterinary Services Processing Streamlining (VSPS), and oversight of horses shipping under APHIS seal to state CEM quarantine facilities. 9CFR 130.2

Private quarantine facilities will bill user fees directly to importers on a quarter hour to hourly rate. APHIS factors costs in these instances by the time spent for each service which includes travel time to ports and airports for veterinary inspections.

Hourly rates also cover the costs of monitoring in-bond or transiting horses passing through the United States and exporting to other countries.

Any semen or embryos from countries affected with African horse sickness (AHS) is prohibited.

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