Record and report cattle exported or moved out of England or Wales

What cattle keepers in England and Wales must record and report when they export or move cattle, including ear tagging rules.

Applies to England and Wales

You can only export or move cattle out of England or Wales if they:

  • were born, imported or moved into Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) after 1 August 1996
  • have a valid passport (single page or chequebook style) with complete movement history
  • have 2 official ear tags, one in each ear, that show the same official ear tag number
  • are not subject to any movement restrictions

These rules do not apply when you move cattle to Scotland from England or Wales. Follow the rules for recording and reporting cattle movements off your holding instead.

There are other rules and processes to follow when you export or move cattle, for example quarantine periods. Read more about:

What you must record and report

You must:

If you’re moving cattle to Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, send a copy of the export health certificate to BCMS within 7 days.

If you’re exporting to the EU or any other country outside of the United Kingdom, send a copy of the export health certificate and the cattle passport to BCMS within 7 days.

Put a barcode label with the county parish holding (CPH) number of the holding the animal is moved or exported from on all documents you send to BCMS. Or you can write your CPH number on the documents instead.

If the holding has been approved as an assembly centre, use the CPH of the assembly centre.

Post your documents to:

British Cattle Movement Service
Curwen Road
Derwent Howe
CA14 2DD

Ear tagging rules to export cattle to the EU or move them to Northern Ireland

You must tag all cattle exported to the EU or moved to Northern Ireland with the GB country code.

All ear tags must also contain the animal’s official ear tag number.

If the animal you’re exporting already has a pair of official UK ear tags (double tagged), you’ll need to add a third ear tag with the:

  • GB country code
  • animal’s individual identification number

Third ear tags can be a plastic flag or button tag of any colour.

If you plan to export an untagged calf, you must first fit a primary and a secondary tag. The secondary tag must have a GB suffix (for example UK123456700123-GB).

You must order ear tags from an approved supplier.

Exporting or moving cattle for slaughter

Cattle exported or moved for slaughter must be freeze-branded on the hind quarters with an L-mark.

Ear tagging rules for other countries

Cattle exported outside of the EU or United Kingdom must travel with their original ear tags.

If the country they’re being exported to has different ear tags requirements, they’ll be changed on arrival.

You must still follow the rules for recording and reporting the cattle’s movements.

Exporting cattle products

There are different rules to follow when you export or move animal products, such as meat or gelatine, out of England or Wales.

Read the guidance on how to export or move food, drink and agricultural products.

Published 6 May 2014
Last updated 8 November 2022 + show all updates
  1. Clarified what you need to do when exporting cattle or moving them to Northern Ireland. Added a link to general rules on exporting.

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

  3. Links to Bovine-CON (consignor confirmation of loading) form and list of identification numbers (Bovine-SCH) removed.

  4. Added section to explain that as a result of the UK exiting the EU, the tagging requirements for cattle that are exported from or moved out of GB to an EU Country or Northern Ireland have changed from 1 January.

  5. First published.