Import Horses from Italy

Last Modified: June 21, 2024
3-Day Quarantine
No African Horse Sickness Present
No Screwworm Present
Follow Contagious Equine Metritis Protocols
No Foot-and-Mouth Disease Present

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 the 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.

Horses Importing into the United States From Countries Affected With CEM 

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 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 United States Under 90 Days

CEM Waiver (216.33 KB) for competition is available only for horses participating in specific competitions. These horses are limited to a stay under 90 days. 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 United States 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 United States, including testing for dourine, glanders, equine infectious anemia, and equine piroplasmosis.

U.S.-Origin Horses Returning to the United States After Temporary Travel Abroad

Some U.S.-origin horses may qualify for a waiver from CEM testing and quarantine upon arrival to the United States, if they meet specific conditions and a full-time salaried government veterinarian endorses the certification statements in each country the horse visits. These specific conditions include:

  1. You must obtain an APHIS import permit before the horse leaves the United States. The permit includes the departure date, date of return, and countries to be visited. If the horse takes any deviation from the declared itinerary, you must apply for and receive an amendment to your permit before the horse arrives at the U.S. port of entry. For more information, view the Notice Regarding APHIS Live Animal Import and Third-Country Import Transit Permits.
  2. The total time elapsed between the departure of the horse from the United States and its reentry to the United States cannot exceed 90 calendar days.
  3. The horse must be accompanied by the original, or certified true copy, of the U.S. export health certificate.
  4. The returning horse must be accompanied by an official health certificate with all required certification statements for each country visited. Information about health certificate requirements can be found in the notice mentioned in #6.
  5. For the entire duration of temporary travel, all returning horses must be: 
    • Held separate and apart from all other horses except when actually participating in an event or exercised by its trainer.
    • Not be on a premises used for any equine breeding. 
    • Not bred to or bred by any animal, nor have any other sexual contact or genital examination while in a CEM-affected country.
    • Transported in cleaned and disinfected vehicles that were not used by any other horses after the cleaning and disinfection.
  6. For further details, view the notice on Equine Import Requirements for U.S. Returning Mares and Stallions.

Health Certificate

An official hard copy of a 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 are described in the Fillable health certificate to be used for horses from Italy entering the U.S.

The original health certificate, with a pen & ink endorsement, MUST accompany the shipment upon arrival.

Available Ports

Air and Sea Ports Accepting Horses From Overseas

Ports that APHIS maintains oversight for physical inspections, cleaning and disinfection of containers:

Quarantine Information

Horses coming from this country are considered to be free from screwworm, African horse sickness, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis. This means that they require an observation period in quarantine (minimum 42 hours) plus blood testing for dourine, glanders (Australia exempt from both dourine and glanders testing), equine piroplasmosis, and equine infectious anemia. 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 an animal import center and at an approved CEM quarantine facility, if applicable.

Fees and 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. 9 CFR 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 Process Streamlining (VSPS), and oversight of horses shipping under APHIS seal to State CEM quarantine facilities. 9 CFR 130.2

Private quarantine facilities will bill user fees directly to importers on a quarter hour to hourly rate. APHIS factors cost 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.

Animal semen, embryos and cloning tissue may not be imported into the United States from a region other than where it was collected.

Any semen and embryo shipments should be routed directly to the United States with no stops other than those designated on the import permit.

Requirements for Importation of Equine Semen and Embryos into the United States.

An import permit is necessary for import of equine semen, embryos, and cloning tissue into the United States. Animal semen, embryos, and cloning tissue may not be imported into the United States from a region other than where it was collected.

An official health certificate, written in English, is required for the importation of semen, embryos, and cloning tissue. Collection should follow the regulations of the respective country’s approved artificial collection centers for export of equine semen to the United States. The official health certification must be endorsed by a full-time salaried veterinarian of the agency responsible for animal health of the national government of the exporting country of origin.

Donor stallions not native of New Zealand may need to be tested for dourine (Australian horses are exempt from testing) using a complement fixation test. Exemptions apply. Please contact Live Animal Imports and Exports at laie@usda.gov.

The donor stallion must also be free from any quarantine or movement restriction for not less than 60 days prior to semen collection.

Generally, importers will use a broker/shipping agent to bring equine semen and embryos into the United States. Learn more about using a broker/shipping agent.

Animal semen, embryos, and cloning tissue may not be imported into the United States from a region other than where it was collected. 

The certified semen must be collected in a country considered by APHIS to be free of African horse sickness (AHS).

Any semen and embryo shipments should be routed directly to the United States with no stops other than those designated on the import permit.

Permit
The importer must be based in the United States and must obtain the import permit from the APHIS Riverdale, MD, office. The import permit will accompany the shipment. Submit applications for the import permits by ePermits, or by filling out the application form electronically and downloading it. Then fax, mail, or scan and email the form to the office directly.

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.

Sample Health Certificate for Export of Micromanipulated Equine Embryos into the United States From Countries Affected With CEM (187.87 KB)

A phantom teaser is preferred over a live teaser mare, if using a live teaser the mare has not been used for natural or artificial breeding prior to entrance into the semen collection center.

All animals must be tested with negative results for dourine within 30 days of the date they enter into the semen collection unit. Subsequent testing for dourine must be conducted at 180-day intervals if the stallions and mares remain in the semen collection unit.

Sample Health Certificate for Export of Non-Micromanipulated Equine Embryos into the United States From Countries Affected With CEM (56.24 KB) 

Stallions must not be used for natural breeding for a period of time starting 15 days prior to the initial tests for CEM, while the stallion is in the collection unit and while semen is being collected for export to the United States. Before semen is collected, the stallions must be cleaned and then cultured negative for CEM.

All equipment used for collection, processing, and shipping semen must be new equipment or sanitized prior to use.

Collected semen must be processed with a semen extender with milk from a country free of foot-and-mouth disease at the time of collection or with egg originating from a country recognized by APHIS to be free of Newcastle disease or reportable avian influenza.

Collection should follow the regulations of the respective country’s approved artificial collection centers for export of equine semen to the United States. The veterinarian issuing the health certificate should directly oversee collection, processing, and storage, including placement of semen into individual containers or in straws permanently marked with the identification of the stallion, date of collection, and the collection unit. The certifying veterinarian will maintain custody of the semen until it is placed in the shipping container and sealed with official seals of the government of the country of origin.

Available Ports

Ports listed have APHIS oversight for physical inspections and cleaning and disinfection of containers.

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Dallas, TX (DFW)
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
  • Memphis, TN
  • Miami, FL
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York, NY (JFK)
  • San Francisco, CA

Fees and 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. 9 CFR 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 Process Streamlining (VSPS), and oversight of horses shipping under APHIS seal to State CEM quarantine facilities. 9 CFR 130.2

Private quarantine facilities will bill user fees directly to importers on a quarter hour to hourly rate. APHIS factors cost 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.