Record and report cattle movements

What cattle keepers must record and report when they move cattle, bison or buffalo and the deadlines.

Applies to England and Wales

All cattle keepers must record the date cattle, bison or buffalo move on or off their holding in:

  • a holding register (also known as a herd register or farm records)
  • cattle passports

You or your registered agent must also report movements to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 3 days.

You must record and report movements by the deadlines so that cattle can be traced at all times. This is a legal requirement to help prevent and contain the outbreak of disease.

If you fail to do this, you could have movement restrictions placed on your herd, get reduced subsidy payments or be prosecuted.

You can report movements using:

  • Cattle Tracing System (CTS) Online
  • compatible farm software through CTS Web Services
  • the CTS self-service telephone line
  • the post

Markets and slaughterhouses may report movements for you, but as the keeper you’re still legally responsible for movements being notified on time.

You must check with them whether they are reporting the movement to or from your holding for you. If they are not doing this, you must report the movement.

Find out about other rules you must follow when moving cattle.

Record cattle movements in your holding register

You must record an animal’s movement on or off your holding in your holding register within 36 hours.

Find out what details you need to record in your holding register.

Record movements in cattle passports

Record an animal’s movement on or off your holding in the ‘movement history’ section of its passport.

If you need more space to record movements, you can get passport continuation sheets.

Record the movement on

You must record the movement in the animal’s passport within 36 hours of its arrival. Or if the animal leaves your holding sooner than this, record the movement on and off your holding before it leaves.

You must record:

  • your name and signature
  • the address of holding and its county parish holding (CPH) number - or use a barcode label
  • the date of the movement

Record the movement off

Before the animal leaves your holding, you must record:

  • the date of the movement
  • your name and signature

Movements through a market or showground

Market operators and showground secretaries can record that an animal has arrived and left on the same day by entering the date of the movement in the ‘Date of movement off or through market’ box.

Report a movement using CTS Online

Use CTS Online to report cattle movements anytime.

There is information on how to enrol on the CTS Online website.

For help on getting access to CTS Online, there are videos on the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) channel on YouTube.

Find out how to get access to CTS Online if you’re an agent.

Report a same-day movement

If an animal leaves your holding and comes back to it on the same day (a same-day movement), report the movements off and on separately.

This is unless the animal is moving to another of your holdings, when there is an option to report both movements at the same time.

Report multiple movements

You or your agent can report multiple movements by creating a file for uploading movements to CTS Online.

If you’re not sure how to do this, contact BCMS for guidance.

British Cattle Movement Service
Telephone (England): 0345 050 1234
Telephone (Wales): 0345 050 3456
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

Report a movement using farm software

You can use compatible farm software to report cattle movements to BCMS.

To do this, you must enrol for CTS Web Services by completing the CTS Web Services user ID and password request form.

Report a same-day movement

Your software provider should be able to provide guidance on how to report a same-day movement.

Report a movement on the self-service telephone line

If the animals have official ear tags, you can report their movements on the CTS self-service telephone line.

CTS self-service telephone line
Telephone (English language): 0345 011 1212
Telephone (Welsh language): 0345 011 1213
24 hours, 7 days
Find out about call charges

When you call, you’ll need:

  • your CPH number
  • the official ear tag numbers of the animals being moved

You can report up to 50 movements in one call. If you need to report more than this, you’ll need to make a new call.

You need to call from a telephone number registered with CTS. You’ll have provided up to 4 telephone numbers when you first registered as a cattle keeper with BCMS.

If your telephone number is withheld, dial 1470 before the self-service telephone line number. Otherwise, the system will not recognise your number.

If you have trouble dialling in from a mobile, contact your mobile provider. They should be able to tell you what settings to change so that the system can detect your number.

To change a number or add other numbers to call from, contact BCMS.

British Cattle Movement Service helpline
Telephone (England): 0345 050 1234
Telephone (Wales): 0345 050 3456
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

Report a same-day movement

Report the off and on movements separately. You must leave at least 24 hours between reporting them.

Report a movement by post

You can report movements to BCMS by post for animals with:

  • a cheque book-style passport issued between 28 September 1998 and 31 July 2011
  • blue and green passports issued between July 1996 and 27 September 1998 if the animal also has a certificate of registration (COR)

BCMS must receive the information within 3 days of the movement on or off your holding.

When you move an animal on or off the holding, tear a movement card from the passport, then:

  • stick on a barcode label (also called a holding address label)
  • tick the movement box to show whether the movement is on or off the holding
  • enter the movement date
  • sign it

Only use black ink.

Post the movement card to:

PO Box 301
S95 1AB

Report a same-day movement

Report the off and on movements separately.

Movements through a market or showground

Market operators and showground secretaries can report that an animal has arrived and left on the same day by ticking the ‘Market movement’ box on movement cards.

If you report a movement incorrectly

If you’ve reported a cattle movement incorrectly, or sent the wrong cattle passport with an animal, you must correct this on CTS Online.

If you do not use CTS Online, you must tell BCMS about the error by email or post.

Curwen Road
Derwent Howe
CA14 2DD

BCMS will tell you what to do next.

Get a receipt or reference number

You’ll get a receipt if you report movements online. You’ll get a reference number if you report movements by telephone.

Keep your receipt or reference number in case there are any queries about the movement.

If you did not get a receipt or reference number, it means your report failed. You’ll need to enter the information again.

If you report by post, you will not get a receipt. You may wish to get proof of postage as evidence you have reported the movement.

Published 6 May 2014
Last updated 8 November 2022 + show all updates
  1. Clarified how to report movements, including same-day movements. Consolidated information from another page on reporting movements so the information is in one place. Provided a link to a form to request access to CTS web services.

  2. This guidance has been updated to show it no longer applies to Scotland.

  3. First published.