Identify livestock for export to the EU in a no-deal Brexit

How to identify sheep, cattle, pigs and goats when exporting to the EU in a no-deal Brexit.

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You can continue exporting livestock to the EU in a no-deal Brexit but you’ll need to follow some extra rules on ear tagging.

There are also wider exporting changes you’ll need to be aware of.

Changes to export rules for identifying livestock

You currently use the country code ‘UK’ on ear tags on livestock.

To export livestock to the EU in a no-deal Brexit, you’ll need to make sure your livestock are also tagged with an ISO country code, which is either:

  • GB (or GBR)
  • 826

Follow the rules in this guide for the tags you should apply to each type of livestock.

Sheep tags

You can continue to identify your sheep in the same way, using double tags.

One of the tags already contains an electronic ID with the correct ISO country code ‘826’, needed in a no-deal Brexit. You do not need to add any extra tags.

Cattle tags

Continue to tag your cattle with the country code ‘UK’ and their individual ID number.

You’ll need to add an extra tag with an ISO country code and the cattle’s individual ID number.

In England, the ISO code must be ‘GB’. For Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can use either:

  • GB
  • 826

You can use any type of tag, for example, a flag or button tag.

If you’re exporting cattle for slaughter, they also need to be freeze-branded on the hind quarters with an L mark.

If you’re exporting from Great Britain, return your cattle passports to the British Cattle Movement Service, within 7 days after you’ve exported your animals to the EU.

Pig identification

You can continue to mark your pigs in the same way.

For exports to the EU, you’ll also need a tag or ear tattoo containing all of the following:

  • GB or 826 (instead of ‘UK’)
  • the animal’s herd mark
  • an individual number

Goat tags

If your goats are electronically identified, they are already identified with the correct ISO country code ‘826’ for exporting in a no-deal Brexit.

If your goats have a conventional pair of tags (non-electronic) then you’ll need to make sure they have a new tag which includes:

  • the ISO country code ‘GB’ or ‘826’
  • the animal’s individual ID number

How to get GB or 826 ear tags

Your regular ear tag supplier will be able to provide any new tags you need. Tell your tag supplier:

  • you’re planning to export your livestock to the EU
  • what extra information needs adding to your tags

Your supplier will print the tags and send them to you.

You then need to:

  • attach the new tags to your animals
  • record any new tagging in your holding register for sheep, goats, cattle or pigs.

Wider exporting changes

Make sure you’ve read about the other changes to rules around exporting animals in a no-deal Brexit.

Published 20 September 2019
Last updated 21 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on Brexit deal.
  2. Updates to tagging for cattle and goats
  3. Information added on extra marking for cattle intended for slaughter.
  4. First published.