Rules for buying and selling horses

In response to reports of horses being moved on the roads of New Jersey and/or being imported and sold in New Jersey without the medical testing required for transport and to enter the state and with an eye toward protecting well-intentioned horse buyers from unwittingly helping to spread equine infectious diseases, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture strongly reminded horse owners and dealers of the longstanding regulations adopted to protect the health of horses in the state and to protect prospective buyers.

Those regulations require a negative Coggins test, the official test for equine infectious anemia, for transport of horses on public roads and also require a veterinary-signed health certificate for horses brought into New Jersey. Both requirements help ensure equine health. Similar regulations governing transfer of horses (sell, exchange, barter, or give away) require a negative Coggins test within 90 days before the sale or transfer of a horse to protect the animals and the prospective buyer.

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The regulations protect New Jersey horses from illnesses that can be caused by exposure to untested horses in the state and entering the state. The Department has followed with concern the movement of horses in state and entry of numerous horses into the state as owners who are unable to keep their animals seek other options for these animals. Some options allow, and therefore can encourage, transport without the required testing, but those options do not include selling the horse to a new owner for the horse to reside in New Jersey.

All horses traveling in and/ or entering New Jersey must have a negative Coggins test and, if imported from another state, a valid interstate health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian from the state of origin, prior to entry to New Jersey. To sell, exchange, barter, or give away a horse, a negative Coggins test within 90 days before the transfer of the horse is required to protect the animals and the prospective buyer. The requirement for both a negative Coggins test result and a health certificate (for imported horses) provides the minimum requirements for the movement and/or importation of healthy horses to minimize the risk of subsequent disease transmission.

Horse owners or prospective horse owners who have questions about these regulations may call the Division of Animal Health at 609–292–3965.

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