BBA Shipping and Transport Ltd — Hong Kong and Japan

Below are details of import requirements applicable in Hong Kong and Japan. For other countries, please use the relevant item from the main menu, or refer to the Global Regions page. Please contact us if you require any further information.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong map

The import of any horse to Hong Kong is overseen by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and there are very strict import conditions.

The shipping of horses to Hong Kong is handled only by shipping agents approved by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and BBA Shipping is the main HKJC shipping agent for the UK and Europe.

In order to import a horse into Hong Kong an owner has to apply for an import permit from the HKJC, and can only import a horse during the time that the permit is valid.

International Ratings

There are two types of horses that can be imported, either Privately Purchased horses (PPs) or Privately Purchased Griffins (PPGs). PPGs are horses that are unraced and PPs are horses that have raced. PPs must have an International Rating of over 80 at the time of import, and must meet the starts conditions as shown below:

Age (at time
of arrival)
2yo 3yo 4yo
Maximum no
of starts
10 as a 2yo as a 3yo as a 2yo as a 3yo as a 4yo
10 5 10 15 15
career starts
10 17 17

Please note that horses aged five (5) or above will not be permitted to be imported into Hong Kong.

HKJC Veterinary Examination

All PPs and PPGs must undergo a full HKJC Vetting for suitability for their import into Hong Kong, and must meet specific HKJC Veterinary Criteria. This is for the following reasons:

  • To ensure, as far as possible, that horses that may either prematurely become unsound, or break down, or that have little realistic chance of racing successfully in Hong Kong because of pre-existing veterinary problems, are not imported.
  • To ensure that owners are made aware of any pre-existing veterinary problems that may impact on the future racing suitability of horses, prior to their importation into Hong Kong. Minor abnormalities may not render the horse unsuitable for importation; however, disclosure of the findings to the prospective owner is required.
  • To ensure that horses that require a rest and rehabilitation period for an existing injury complete that rehabilitation prior to importation into Hong Kong.

The Process of the Veterinary Examination

The initial veterinary examination for suitability will be conducted by any equine practitioner at the request of a bloodstock agent within 30 days of the proposed date of entry into pre-export quarantine for shipment to Hong Kong.

The initial Examining Veterinary Surgeon’s certification and the diagnostic images will be submitted to the designated Shipping Agent (BBA Shipping) and subsequently forwarded to the HKJC Nominated Veterinary Surgeon for scrutiny.

The Nominated Veterinary Surgeon will review the certification to ensure that all the required examination procedures have been completed and satisfactorily reported. He/she will also review the radiographs taken by the Initial Examining Veterinary Surgeon to ensure that all the required views have been taken, that the radiographs are properly labelled and of diagnostic quality and that all the significant lesions have been noted and commented on. The Nominated Veterinary Surgeon may request further examination of horses to clarify any queries that may arise regarding the suitability of any horses and may over-rule the opinion of the Initial Examining Veterinary Surgeon.

He/she will then complete a HKJC Nominated Veterinary Surgeons Report form, which is used to ensure completeness and a standard reporting format, and then will provide comments and an opinion on the suitability of the horse for importation into Hong Kong.

The completed report will then be returned to BBA Shipping, who are responsible for forwarding the completed report to the HKJC Racing Registry Department.

The HKJC Racing Registry Department will forward the Club’s Senior Veterinary Officer who will review the certification and will issue final approval for the horse to enter pre-export quarantine.

The horses will be categorised into one of the following three categories:

  • Acceptable
  • Acceptable with Reservations — if the Initial Examining Veterinary Surgeon and/or the HKJC Nominated Veterinary Surgeon are of the opinion that a horse is generally suitable for importation but have some reservations regarding some of the findings of the veterinary examination, and it is considered that a prospective owner should be made aware of such findings, then the horse should be in this category. The prospective owner and trainer will be advised prior to the horse entering quarantine and will consult with their HKJC Clinical Veterinary Surgeon. If after this consultation, and possibly after further examinations, the prospective owner is happy to continue with the importation, they will advise the Club and the importation of the horse will proceed.
  • Not Acceptable — the reason/s must be listed.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Nominated Veterinary Surgeons in the UK and Ireland are as follows:


Newmarket Equine Hospital, Cambridge Road, Newmarket, Suffolk  CB8 0FG
Tel: + 44 1638 782000

Rossdale and Partners, Beaufort Cottage Stables, High Street, Newmarket, Suffolk  CB8 8JS
Tel: + 44 1638 663150

Mr Peter Thurlow
Ridgeway Veterinary Group, Valley Equine Hospital, Upper Lambourn, Berks  RG17 8QG
Tel: + 44 1488 71999


Mr Hugh Dillon
Troytown Hospital, Green Road, Kildare, Ireland
Tel: + 353 4552 1813

(FOR HKJC vets in France and Germany please contact BBA Shipping)


As far as possible horses are quarantined and shipped to Hong Kong in numbers divisible by three, as three horses in a jet stall is the most economical way to ship by air. But this is flexible and two horses can be shipped in a jet stall together providing the owners have liaised with the HKJC, and informed them that they are happy to pay the extra cost. All horses are accompanied by BBA professional flying grooms for the duration of their journey to Hong Kong.

The pre-export quarantine period for Hong Kong is three weeks, and our quarantine premises are situated just outside Newmarket. During their time in quarantine horses can be ridden, if requested, at an extra cost. The tests done during quarantine include 2 x EVA tests, 1 x Coggins test, 2 x Piroplasmosis tests, and 2 x Flu tests. They are also receive Flu and EHV 1,4 Vaccinations, and are treated for internal and external parasites.

Our forthcoming Quarantine and Shipment dates are as follows:

Quarantine Commences Shipment from UK
8 February 2 March
8 March 30 March
5 April 27 April
3 May 25 May
7 June 29 June
5 July 27 July
2 August 24 August

The above dates are subject to change, so please check with BBA Shipping & Transport.


Japan map

There are regular shipments to Tokyo throughout the year, according to demand and quarantine space in Japan. There are generally large shipments of breeding stock in January and two year old breeze up horses in May — these bigger shipments are re-routed to Sapporo airport, which is closer to Hokkaido (the area of Japan with the highest volume of bloodstock). Historically all cargo flights to Japan routed via Anchorage in Alaska, where they would be on the ground for an hour or so for refuelling. However, recently both Japan Airlines and Nippon Cargo Airlines have brought in a new 500 series aircraft, which has the capacity to be able to fly to Japan directly from the UK. This has much reduced the flying time, and it is hoped that this direct service will continue and will become increasingly regular throughout the week.

Japan has very strict regulations regarding flu vaccinations and it is imperative that these are checked with BBA Shipping as soon as possible. If the flu vaccinations do not meet the Japanese requirements the horses will not be able to travel until such time as the vaccinations are in order.

All horses have to enter pre-export quarantine approved by DEFRA. The quarantine period is seven clear days with daily veterinary inspections, and prior to entering quarantine horses require 2 sets of CEM (Contagious Equine Metritis) swabs seven days apart, and a set of blood tests for EVA, Coggins (equine infectious anaemia), Salmonella ab eq, Piroplasmosis (IFAT or CFT), and a microscopic blood smear for Piroplasmosis. All results must of course be negative.

If you have a horse for shipment to Japan please do not hesitate to contact BBA Shipping for further details.

All blood testing and swabbing prior to shipment will be co-ordinated by BBA Shipping, as will all export paperwork. Any further details can be obtained from our office. Our specialist adviser for the Hong Kong and Japan regions is Sally Goldsmith.