The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue T.D. has confirmed that Ireland’s third annual equine census will take place this Thursday night, 30th November 2023. Census forms will have started arriving at some 29,000 registered premises across the country from the beginning of this week.

Any person who keeps any equines (which include horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, and zebras) overnight on 30th November 2023 is required to submit a completed census return to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by Friday 15th December 2023. Submission of a 2023 equine census forms part of the eligibility criteria for TAMS III, where a minimum of 3 equines must be declared on the equine census on the year preceding application.

The Minister re-iterated the importance of the census process, stating that “the census will provide valuable information to the Department particularly in the area of disease prevention but also in addressing public health concerns and in dealing with lost, straying or stolen horses. Accurate information on the equine population will further facilitate more informed decision-making processes across the wider equine industry.” He thanked the significant number of keepers who engaged with the 2021 and 2022 census processes and encouraged all keepers to continue to engage in 2023.

While paper census returns will be accepted by his Department, Minister McConalogue strongly encouraged keepers to submit their 2023 census information online through the dedicated secure Equine Census portal in the AIM Services tile, located on the on ‘home page’. The portal will accept 2023 equine census data from Friday 1st December. He commented that “My Department has taken on board feedback received from keepers using the online system over the last two years and we have enhanced the system again in 2023 to further improve this year’s online experience.” He added that, where 2022 data is recorded on his Department’s system, this will be available to keepers to use as a base for their 2023 return. This feature will ease the administrative burden of re-entering equine data for animals that are still present in the holding. The online portal also features a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section and a video has been added to the portal to assist keepers with large numbers of equines in notifying their data through a batch upload facility.

Keepers will be required to record the total number of equines present on their holding on census night. For those equines that ordinarily reside on the premises, the Unique Equine Life Number (UELN), also known as the passport number, of each equine that has been identified with an identification document (passport) will also be required, as will the approximate date on which each animal moved to the premises.

Where equines are present on a temporary basis (e.g. for training /competition /breeding purposes), the individual UELNs of these equines will not be required and only the total number of such animals present on the night is to be provided.

Minister McConalogue advised that the census is required by the EU Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429), which requires that the Department records the details of the premises where all equines resident in the State are habitually kept. The census is designed to create an initial link between each equine kept in the State on census day and the premises on which it is kept at that time. A profile of all equines present on a holding on that date will be created on the Department’s Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system, which houses the central equine database.

Keepers should be aware that they are legally required to make a census return and those who do not return a completed census return commit an offence under S.I. 254 of 2023. In addition, they may not be eligible for TAMS III and other DAFM Schemes where equines are included in the livestock units kept on a holding.

The Minister advised that guidance on online submission of census data has been included with the census forms issued by his Department. Anyone seeking assistance with submitting census data, either on paper or online, should contact the Department’s AIM Division by email to [email protected] or by phone at 01-5058881.

Notes to the Editor:

– Any person intending to keep any equines must apply to their local DAFM Regional Office (RO) for approval to do so, prior to moving an equine on to their premises. Successful applicants are issued with a unique equine premises registration number (EPRN) by DAFM.

– Anyone keeping any equines on a premises that is not registered with DAFM for that purpose commits an offence. Applications to register a premises to keep equines should be made to the applicant’s local DAFM Regional Office. Contact details for the various offices are on the DAFM website at

– Keepers of equines are legally required to ensure that all equines in their care are properly identified with a passport. Failure to do so is an offence. In Ireland, equine passports are issued by DAFM-approved Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs). A list of approved PIOs is available on the DAFM website at

– The passports of all horses imported into the State, together with all older horses issued with passports by approved bodies outside the State, must be lodged with an approved PIO in Ireland in order for the required equine identification to be notified to the central equine database.

– While details of UELNs that are not recorded on the central database will be accepted on the online portal for census purposes only in 2023, these equines are not properly identified in accordance with the provisions of the EU Animal Health Law and they will not be eligible for payment under any DAFM Schemes until this situation is rectified by the keeper lodging the associated passport(s) with an approved PIO.

– Online submission of census data requires an equine keeper account.

– To register with, the applicant keeper must provide his/her date of birth, PPSN, email address and phone number. For security reasons, personal log-on details are issued by post and are generally received within 3-4 days after completing the registration process. These should be kept safely as the system cannot be accessed without them.

– Keepers have the added option of appointing an agent to submit an online return on their behalf.

– For added security, the Department introduced a two-factor authentication system in 2022 for access to the Equine Census portal. On their first attempt to access the portal, keepers will be requested to record a mobile telephone number, to which a specific code will be sent each time they log on to the portal in the future. Keepers are asked to ensure that the number provided relates to a phone that they will have access to on an ongoing basis.