New Fee And Naming Guidelines For FEI Passports Surprise Owners

On Jan. 1, the Fédération Equestre Internationale implemented a new fee and guidelines for horses applying for a passport, and now it’s catching many owners and riders registering their horses by surprise.

Previously changing a horse’s name on an existing passport incurred a $1,000 fee, but now the new guidelines also state that any horse registering for its first FEI passport must revert back to its birth name or pay 1,000 Swiss francs, about $1,000, to change the name or add a commercial prefix.

When asked why the fee was implemented, a spokesperson for the FEI said, “This ensures transparency and clarity—the same process for everyone in the international equestrian community. The FEI has consulted with its National Federations on this, as it does with all rule changes. This system is designed to benefit everyone, from breeders with respect to the birth name, to sponsors who see the value of naming horses.”

The FEI defines a birth name as the name on the document issued at birth by a studbook or the name on the first official document issued, such as a national passport.

If the name of a horse at birth is not available or it is not affiliated with a studbook, the FEI will accept the name written in the first document issued. They will allow the name of a farm in a horse’s name if the horse was bred there.

In addition, the FEI will allow non-commercial initials, such as a non-profit organization or state organization, and name shortening for a 200 Swiss francs fee.

A commercial name is defined as a company or brand, a stable name, a group of people or an association, a person, or a breed association’s initials, so names with a dealer prefix like Fernhill, a breed name like FRH, or a sponsor like H&M are subject to the fee.

The new guidelines complicate registration for riders and owners who may have competed a horse under a given name for several years at shows affiliated by their national federations but have decided to show in FEI competitions.

The FEI confirmed that the fee also applies to off-the-track Thoroughbreds, who must revert back to their Jockey Club names unless a birth document exists with a prior name. Of course, an owner also has the option to pay the approximately $1,000 change fee.

Leah Oliveto, director of communications for the U.S. Equestrian Federation, said that any time a recorded horse’s name is changed with USEF, the owner must pay a $60 fee, so for owners who are applying for a new FEI passport and want to revert back to their horse’s original name to avoid the $1,000 FEI fee, the USEF fee still applies.

"The FEI passport name change guidelines are not part of the FEI rules, therefore the guidelines did not go through the formal rule change process,” said USEF Director of Sport Will Connell. “The guidelines have been evolving for a number of years now, and the only update for 2016 was the requirement that owners obtaining an FEI passport and wishing to use a name other than the one that appears in the first recorded document for the horse pay a $1,000 fee to change the name and/or add a commercial prefix.