How to order official cattle ear tags, what to do if your animal is untagged, its tags have been damaged or it has been tagged incorrectly.
Applies to England and Wales
All cattle must have official ear tags to help identify each animal. This is a legal requirement to prevent and control the outbreak of disease.
If you do not follow the ear tagging rules, you could have movement restrictions placed on your herd, get reduced subsidy payments or be prosecuted.
Ear tagging rules
Ear tags must be bought from an approved supplier.
For all cattle born in England and Wales or imported from outside the EU, ear tags must clearly display a:
- crown logo
- country code (UK)
- herd mark
- 6-digit official ear tag number
For cattle imported from the EU or moved from Northern Ireland there are different rules for ear tags.
If you are exporting cattle to the EU or moving them to Northern Ireland, you need to follow additional ear tagging rules.
You cannot move animals off your holding without official ear tags. You must not reuse ear tags or official ear tag numbers on different animals.
Each animal must keep the same official ear tag number for life, unless they were either:
- born or imported to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) before 1998
- imported into Great Britain from outside the EU (these animals will get and keep a new official UK ear tag number on arrival)
You’ll need a stock of approved ear tags to use when calves are born on your holding. Read the tagging guidance on what to do after a calf is born.
Get new ear tags
You must order ear tags from approved suppliers registered with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).
You’ll need to tell the supplier your:
The supplier will use this information to create official ear tag numbers for your tags.
The supplier will then send the printed tags to you to attach to your animals.
Try to order the number of ear tags you think you’ll need in one year. Store any unused ear tags securely.
Replace lost, damaged, missing or incorrect ear tags
If you need to replace lost or damaged tags, contact an approved ear tag supplier to order a replacement.
You must order and fit replacement tags within 28 days of noticing the tag loss or damage.
If an animal you buy arrives with one missing tag, contact an approved supplier to get a replacement.
You must not move the animal from your holding until the replacement tag has been fitted.
Do not accept any animal onto your holding if it arrives without any tags or you think there is something wrong with the tags. Contact BCMS for advice.
Animals born or imported before 1998
If you need to replace a lost, damaged, or missing official ear tag for an animal born or imported before 1998, you must get a replacement tag from an approved supplier.
You can get either a:
- single tag showing the original official ear tag number
- single tag showing a new official ear tag number
- set of 2 tags showing a new official ear tag number
If you get a new official ear tag number
You must record the new official ear tag number in your holding register within 36 hours of tagging
Within 14 days of tagging you must send to BCMS:
- the animal’s passport, if it has one
- the animal’s certificate of registration, if it has one
- the new official ear tag number
BCMS will change the details and issue a new passport.
Ear tagging rules for cattle imported, moved or exported
You must have the relevant cattle passport and ear tags for each animal. Follow the guidance on:
- registering cattle you’ve imported or moved into England or Wales
- what to record and report when you export or move cattle from England or Wales
Give feedback about ear tags
You can provide feedback to BCMS on approved ear tags and suppliers.
Feedback includes any problems you have with ear tags such as:
- infection to cattle
- loss rates
BCMS will check this feedback and may act on it. Complete the feedback form or get a form from your supplier.