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Channel Racing 2023

Documents required for channel racing in 2023

As channel racing approaches, it is important to completely understand what is required to present to the veterinarian in attendance at the marking stations. There are five documents the vet will ask for before you will be allowed to enter your pigeons – download examples here. The documents are:

  1. CPH Number printed (example 1)
  2. Proof of registration with vet practice (example 2)
  3. Loft Declaration Form (example 3)
  4. Vaccination Form signed by club officials (example 4)
  5. Attestation Form supplied and signed by the vet on their loft visit (example 5)

As you can see from the above, regardless of when you obtained your CPH number, you will require a vet visit before you can race from the EU in 2023, and you must have them with you before basketing for the first channel race. There is NOT a 12-month period of grace before you are required to have a vet visit.

Chris Sutton


Loft Registration and Export Health Certificate Procedures

Since May 2022, Defra has required pigeon fanciers who wish to take part in channel racing to register their lofts. This article will guide you through that process.

Defra’s preamble to registration reads as follows: 

“An Export Health Certificate for racing pigeons from Great Britain (GB) sent to the EU or Northern Ireland (NI) for the purpose of immediate release for racing back to Great Britain, is available on GOV.UK.

“A registration system for establishments (pigeon lofts) is also available.  Establishments must be registered with the competent authority if keepers want to use the new EHC and move racing pigeons from that premises in GB to the EU or NI for the purpose of immediate release for racing back to GB. We will register lofts as quickly as possible but please allow at least 6 weeks for your application to be processed.

“Pigeon lofts that do not wish to engage in racing from the EU or Northern Ireland are unaffected by these changes.

“If you wish to partake in the racing of pigeons from the EU or Northern Ireland back to GB you must use the new EHC and obtain registration of your loft.

“Please see full guidance and required forms for establishment registration on GOV.UKand Gov.scot.

“See the attached FAQ for more information on certification and registration.”

Download: Loft Registration and Export Health Certificate FAQs – updated 

Click here to access Defra’s Magic Map 

Please note that lofts only need to register; the Export Health Certificate will be obtained by clubs/organisations.


We became aware that some members were struggling to follow and meet the requirements of the Defra registration process published above. RPRA Development Officer Richard Chambers put together the step-by-step instruction video below, which shows exactly what to do, from logging on, to pressing ‘send’ on the email that will submit your application. 

After you have registered and received your CPH number, one other thing you need to complete is an Operations Declaration. Richard Chambers’ instructional video on Part 2 of the process is below.

Please note you can only complete this next stage once you have a CPH Number! If you do not have this number, please wait until you receive the number to complete the Operations Declarations Form.

If you have not applied for a CPH Number (Defra Registration) please follow the instructions in the Part 1 video above.

N.B. You will receive an activation email from Defra to activate your email address, which must be clicked within 12 hours or it will expire and you will need to reapply. If you don’t appear to have received an activation email, check your spam/junk folder.

We have been informed that some pigeon fanciers have requested their CPH number on the new CPH online form, instead of the racing pigeon online form.  The guidance asks those wanting to be registered as a racing pigeon establishment to follow this link, which has been specifically set up for that purpose, and this will help the Rural Payments Agency to process your registration in the most efficient way.


Vet David Parsons kindly put together the following video, showing the steps that need to be taken in order to send to France/Spain.



24/05/22: Many of you will have already seen a publication that outlines that the guidance associated with the completion of the Export Health Certificates will require a veterinarian to be present at each marking station. Although the certificate has to be signed by the Official Veterinarian (OV) those vets present at other marking stations do not need to be OVs but MRCVS vets. 

Today I have met with NFC, MNFC, BICC, BBC and CSCFC representatives to update them in relation to the complexities associated with the EHC. 

I am in the process of arranging meetings with other organisation representatives that have previously indicated that they still wish to race the channel. Those organisations that carry out central marking will of course only require one vet (the OV).

Since the latest meeting with Defra, we have proposed a different approach to replace veterinary officers at marking stations. This proposal is based on the processes adopted when exporting of commodities. This includes a process where Certification Support Officers (CSO’s) are used in replace of veterinarians. The idea is that individuals or members of organisations complete an online training course (there is a cost) that then allows them to carry out the required certifications process at marking stations. This will then reduce the number of veterinary officers required to just the OV who signs the export health certificate at the final loading point. However, there is no guarantee that this process will be agreed or be in place by the time organisations start racing from France.

Ian Evans


06/06/22: There are currently just three French ports that have suitable veterinary services to facilitate the entry of racing pigeons in the EU. These are Caen, Cherbourg and St Malo.

The Federation Colombophile Francaise (FCF) has contacted me to bring to our attention that some UK based pigeon fanciers have approached French clubs in the Calais area to accept their pigeons for entry into the international races. The FCF are concerned that some fanciers may try to ‘force their way’ through the Calais port that is currently NOT approved to deal with the entry of racing pigeons. Such actions could ruin the work undertaken by the RPRA and FCF in recent weeks to facilitate continental racing, and could jeopardise future races from the continent. Such actions may also have a negative impact on the Belgian organisers and the international convoy. 

May I remind fanciers that the BICC is set up to provide international racing for the UK, and therefore members should enter such races through the BICC, who will make arrangements to transport pigeons into France for the international races.

The RPRA have been and will continue to work with the FCF to bring the relevant veterinary services to Calais. However, until such services are confirmed you CANNOT use Calais to enter the EU with racing pigeons. 

Ian Evans


01/07/22: A meeting with Defra/APHA took place this morning. Representing the RPRA was President Les Blacklock, Development Officer Richard Chambers and CEO Ian Evans.

Discussions included the following:

1. There are now 1,290 registered lofts in England and just 12 outstanding applications, all of which were less than 3 days old. The most recent available figures for Scotland showed 205 registered lofts, although it was acknowledged that these were not the most up to date figures. The Welsh Government did not have any available figures.

2. There are a number of myths published on social media that are possible barriers to people applying. Defra will be providing updated Q&A’s and social media posts that will hopefully help provide factual information to dispel such myths. This will include, but will not be limited to, what powers Defra have in the event of a disease outbreak for registered lofts, as opposed to non-registered lofts.

3. The issue of the veterinary requirements at each marking station. This was highlighted as a significant barrier. It was outlined that this requirement is based on the RCVS guidance/regulations and not Defra’s. Please note that the RPRA through David Parsons has already met with the RCVS to raise this issue and discuss possible solutions. We have also asked Defra to open up discussions with the RCVS; their input is essential as they control the issuing of export certificates. The RPRA will be putting forward a proposal for suitably qualified members to be trained, and therefore replace the vets at the marking stations. Please note this proposal will still require an Official Veterinarian to sign the Export Health Certificate. There is no guarantee this proposal will be accepted but clearly we need a solution to this barrier and everything will be done to try and find a solution.


26/07/2022: After a meeting today with Defra, we would advise anyone who is looking to fly from France/EU either this year or next season 2023, to apply now for your CPH number.

The reason being is that there are sufficient resources now in place to deal with applications. However this resource will be limited moving into Christmas and the New Year, so the longer you leave it, potentially the longer it will take to get your CPH number.

To guarantee that you will not be disappointed in 2023 we advise you apply now!

As you may have seen there have now been 6 organisations that have successfully raced from France this season, and we anticipate that more will follow in 2023.

We have put together 2 videos showing you exactly what to do to apply and these are available at this page.

As I said earlier, if you are going to race from France in 2023, the time to register for your CPH number is now!

Richard Chambers

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