To sell official ear tags for cattle, or for sheep and goats, manufacturers/suppliers must be registered and their tags must be approved. Manufacturers/suppliers must also apply for approval of modifications to already approved ear tags.
All bovine animals (cattle, bison and buffalo, all referred to as ‘cattle’ here), sheep and goats in the UK must be fitted with officially approved ear tags, bought from a registered manufacturer/supplier.
Register as an ear tag manufacturer/supplier
To supply official ear tags for cattle, or for sheep and goats, you must get an ear tag supplier’s number from the Ear Tag Allocation System (ETAS) support team at BCMS.
- download and complete the
- read the relevant and/or
- complete and sign the undertaking form(s) at the back of the relevant code(s) of practice.
Send your application form and signed code(s) of practice together to:
ETAS Support Team Leader
Or email them to bcmsETASSection@rpa.gov.uk
We need an original signature on the Code(s) of Practice undertaking form(s).
Apply to have new or modified ear tags approved
Before sending in a new or modified tag for approval you must first read the following:
- the and/or
- the notes on and/or
- the relevant welfare assessment document for and/or
- the BSI Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) for official identification of cattle (PAS 44:2019) and/or sheep and goats (PAS 66:2019)
And for EID tags:
Apply for approval
To request approval please download and complete the, one form for each new or modified tag.
- the application form for each new or modified tag
- a minimum of 6 samples of each tag, printed with the Crown logo and a number in the correct format (such as “UK 654321 123456”)
- an ear tag applicator for fitting the tags
- instructions for fitting the tags, including images showing how the tag will be placed in the animal’s ear
- technical drawings (including measurements)
- your proposed quality control procedures
- your proposed marketing literature including the name and type of tag
- certificate(s) showing each tag conforms to EID technical standards (EID tags only)
- an original version of the currently approved tag (for modified tags only)
ETAS Support Team Leader
You can also email the application form(s) and other documents to bcmsETASSection@rpa.gov.uk.
What happens next
The ETAS Support Team will carry out an initial tabletop test.
They will then send the tags and paperwork to an Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) vet for them to carry out a welfare tabletop test.
If the APHA vet is content they will advise ETAS.
The ETAS Support Team will then confirm to you that you can arrange for live Welfare Trials.
You must not submit your sample tags for welfare or laboratory testing until told to by the ETAS Support Team.
When the ETAS Support Team advise you that you can move to live welfare trials, at your own cost, you must arrange for a welfare assessment at 2 farms under the supervision of a vet.
The welfare assessment must fulfil the following requirements:
|Requirement||Cattle||Sheep and goats|
|Period of assessment||21 days||3 months|
|Number of animals per batch of tags on each farm||at least 25 calves||at least 50 sheep/goats|
|Location||calves at one farm enclosed (not at grass) and at the other with access to pasture||sheep/goats at one farm on lowland and at the other on upland|
|Age of animals at start of assessment||less than 20 days||less than 6 months|
|Ear tag numbers||use the herd mark of the test farm and the next available batch of numbers||use the herd mark of the test farm and the next available batch of numbers|
|Loss and replacement of tags||the assessment tags will take the place of the official tags for the duration of the assessment and are allowed to remain if the tag is approved; tags that fall out during the assessment should only be replaced with approved tags with the same unique number||the assessment tags will take the place of the official tags for the duration of the assessment and are allowed to remain if the tag is approved; tags that fall out during the assessment should only be replaced with approved tags and not assessment tags|
|Veterinary assessment by the same vet||at insertion of the tags, 7 days after insertion and 21 days after insertion||at insertion of the tags, 3 weeks after insertion and 3 months after insertion|
At the end of the assessment, the vet will send you a welfare report.
- You must return the vet’s report to the ETAS Support Team who will liaise with the APHA vet to check the results.
If the ETAS Support Team are content with the results of the welfare trial they will confirm that you can move to the specification tests.
We strongly recommend that you wait for the ETAS Support Team and APHA vet to check the welfare report before you send the tags for specification tests, to avoid any unnecessary costs.
At your own cost, you must arrange for an ISO17025 -accredited laboratory to test the new tags against Publicly Available Specifications (PAS):
- PAS standards for cattle ear tags (PAS 44:2019)
- PAS standards for sheep and goat ear tags (PAS 66:2019)
You can find a lab through the UK Accreditation Service website.
- When you receive the lab report, you must send a copy to the ETAS Support Team, who will inform you in writing within a month if your tags have been approved.
If the ETAS Support Team is not satisfied at any part of the approval process they will write to you to explain why.
Tagging information for livestock keepers
Keepers can find information on the rules for identifying their animals at these links:
For further information on supplying ear tags, including forms for access to ETAS and technical user guides.
Keepers: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ear tag manufacturers/suppliers: email bcmsETASSection@rpa.gov.uk
BCMS helpline: 0345 050 1234
Helpline for cattle keepers in Wales: 0345 050 3456