Cattle passports: what to do if problems arise

Information for keepers of cattle, bison or buffalo on what to do about missed deadlines, lost or stolen passports and other problems.

Cattle passports are important legal documents. You must ensure that the passport for each animal on your holding is in order.

If you make a mistake on a passport application

If the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) can’t issue a passport because you have made a mistake on your application form or not completed it fully, they will send you a letter asking you for the correct information.

If you realise that you have given wrong information by mistake on the application form, you should contact BCMS as soon as possible. If the passport has already arrived, return it to BCMS immediately with a letter clearly explaining your error. BCMS will send you a new passport based on the correct information.

Problems with the post

When you apply for a passport, you should receive it within 14 days. If you don’t, the passport will be treated as lost and you should contact BCMS.

If BCMS have issued the passport and you haven’t received it, they will carry out checks and may send you a replacement free of charge if you have informed them within 6 weeks.

If you do not inform BCMS within 6 weeks of the date the passport was produced, you will have to pay a fee of £20 per animal when you apply for the replacement passport.

You should also tell BCMS if you’ve sent in a passport for any reason and you’ve not received it back within 14 days.

Late applications and refused passports

If your application doesn’t arrive with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 27 days of the calf’s birth, BCMS will not issue a passport. Instead, you will get a notice of registration (CPP35) that registers your calf on the Cattle Tracing System (CTS).

Without a passport, the animal:

  • must remain on your holding for its lifetime
  • must not move alive from your holding, unless you get a movement licence from BCMS and move the animal direct to a BSE sampling site, knacker’s yard or hunt kennel
  • must not go into the human food chain under any circumstances
  • may be used for milking or breeding purposes only (you must apply for passports for any calves the animal may have in the usual way)

How to appeal against a passport refusal

If you’ve had a cattle passport refused because the application was late, you may appeal to BCMS.

You need to show there were exceptional circumstances that stopped you making the application in time (the rules on this are narrow and are strictly interpreted).

You must appeal in writing and send evidence to support your appeal. Each appeal is assessed on the basis of the individual facts.

Exceptional circumstances that stopped you making the application on time might include:

  • events outside your control (‘acts of God’); for example, major floods, regional or national power failures, or postal strikes
  • personal circumstances including a death in the immediate family, your suffering from a sudden and serious illness, and possibly the theft of or damage to your farm records or computer
  • unusual postal delay
  • mistakes made by BCMS or a breakdown of CTS

These reasons aren’t grounds for appeal:

  • a mistake, oversight or misunderstanding by you or anyone acting for you
  • being too busy with other farm work
  • financial difficulties

You can send your appeal in writing to:

Appeals Section
Curwen Road
CA14 2DD

Getting a passport after a late application

BCMS may be able to issue the passport based on a DNA test, which proves that the animal is the offspring of the dam shown in the application.

As each case is considered individually, contact BCMS for more information on appeals and DNA testing.

If your cattle passport is lost, stolen or destroyed

You must tell BCMS within 14 days of becoming aware that a passport has been lost, stolen or destroyed.

You must get a replacement before you can move the animal off your holding.

This includes passports lost in the post (you’ll need proof of posting as evidence that this has happened).

How to get a replacement passport

Contact BCMS with the passport number you need to replace – or you can do this on CTS Online. BCMS will send you a form to fill in - complete the form as soon as possible. BCMS will then trace a full movement history for the animal.

The guidance notes to the form (PDF, 55.4KB, 2 pages) which provide full details of the process

Your replacement passport will be in the latest single-page format.

BCMS can’t issue a replacement passport if it can’t trace a full movement history. If this happens, you’ll be sent a notice of registration (CPP35) that places restrictions on what you can do with the animal.

Fees for replacement passports

Replacement passports for animals with a Certificate of Registration (COR) are free.

In all other cases, you must pay a fee of £20 per animal when you apply for the replacement passport.

You can pay by two methods:

  • direct through your bank by BACS transfer using these details:
    • account name: GBS RE RPA (RC)
    • sort code: 60-70-80
    • account number 10018255
    • your CPH number (given at part 1 of the application form) as the payment reference
  • by sending a cheque with your completed form:
    • make cheques payable to ‘Rural Payments Agency’
    • write your CPH number on the back of the cheque

Euro bank details are available on request from BCMS.

If you find the original passport

Tell BCMS as soon as possible


British Cattle Movement Service

Curwen Road
Derwent Howe
CA14 2DD

Normal BCMS helpline opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, closed weekends and bank holidays. All calls charged at local rate.

Published 6 May 2014
Last updated 8 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated CPP9 and Additional text under Problems with the post section

  2. Updated bank details

  3. First published.