Publication - Advice and guidance

Post EU exit livestock identification export requirements: guidance

Published: 27 Sep 2021

Changes to the way livestock intended for export from Great Britain to the European Union need to be identified and movements recorded.

Published:
27 Sep 2021
Post EU exit livestock identification export requirements: guidance

From 1 January 2021 there will be some changes to the requirements around the export of livestock from Scotland to the European Union (EU) and movements to Northern Ireland (NI).  Whilst the below export requirements for movements to the EU will not change, requirements for exports from Great Britain (GB) to NI are subject to ongoing negotiations.  As currently written, the Northern Ireland Protocol will require movements of livestock from GB to NI to be treated as if moving livestock to a Member State from 1 January 2021.   

Currently all livestock in the United Kingdom (UK) are identified with the prefix ‘UK’ followed by the animals individual identification number.  We use the prefix UK as that is the abbreviation for the United Kingdom recognised within the European Union (EU).  However, once we leave the EU we will have to use our official ISO (International Standardisation Organisation) country code which is ‘GB’, ‘GBR’ or ‘826’ (the numerical country code that is used on digital transponders – microchips). 

This means that all livestock born in Scotland, England and Wales need to be identified with a ‘GB’ prefix tag. 

However, a number existing legacy IT data systems across GB use the prefix ‘UK’ as part of their validation process.  Unfortunately, there is not enough time to update these systems before 1 January 2021. Therefore, Ministers have agreed that until systems are upgraded we will continue with the ‘UK’ prefix on all livestock identifiers. 

However for export purpose, we have put in place an interim solution across GB that will allow you to continue to export livestock to the EU and move livestock to NI.  The proposed solution will allow your tag supplier to add ‘GB’ to runs of new tags, or replacement tag orders.  These tags would still have the official UK and individual animal number however, the legislation does allow for additional information to be added to a tag as long as it does not interfere with the animal’s official identity.  For example ‘GB’ could be added to the bottom of a secondary cattle tag, the bottom of a sheep or goat flag tag/the middle of a button tag/or the end of a fold over tag, or the bottom of a pig tag.  Where an animal is already identified it has been agreed that you can apply a third (management) tag with the ‘GB’ prefix and the animals individual number. 

You should confirm with the importer that animals you plan to export are identified by an acceptable method.  Details of how this will work for each species is set out in the attachment. 

If you export cattle for slaughter, they must be freeze-branded on the hind quarters with an L mark.  You must also return the cattle passport of any animal that is exported to the EU to ScotEID within 7 days of the export taking place.  

Further information on livestock identification for animals intended for export can be found at export or move live animals and animal products to the EU from 1 January 2021

Cattle

Cattle – not already identified with UK tags 

Where animals are registered for the first time, the keeper can order new runs of tags with the suffix ‘GB’ on the secondary tag – with the ‘GB’ being separate from the official ID, for example at the bottom of the tag. 

This could also be utilised where replacement/duplicate tags are ordered for animals that have already been registered, if the intention is to export the animal. 

Cattle – already identified with a UK tag pair 

Where an animal is already registered and identified, the keeper can order a third (management) tag with the prefix ‘GB’ followed by the animals individual number. This will be done if the intention is to export the animal.  

Sheep and goats 

Sheep – not already identified (or lambs being upgraded from the slaughter/batch tag) 

Where animals are registered for the first time, the keeper can order new runs of tags with the suffix ‘GB’ on the EID and plastic tag along with prefix ‘UK’ and the animals individual number provided it does not affect legibility of the official ID – so the ‘GB’ would need to be at the bottom of a flag tag, the centre of a button tag or at the end of a fold over tag.  

This would work for new born animals as well as slaughter lambs being upgraded to full EID. 

This could also be utilised where replacement/duplicate tags are ordered for animals that have already been registered, if the intention is to export the animal. 

Sheep and goats – already identified with a UK tag pair 

Where an animal is already registered and identified, the keeper can order a third (management) tag with the prefix ‘GB’ followed by the animals individual number and match it up to the existing ID. This will be done if the intention is to export the animal.  

Additional tags for exported sheep and goats must not be red or black. 

Pigs 

Pigs – not already identified 

Where animals are registered for the first time the keeper can order new runs of tags with the suffix ‘GB’ along with the prefix ‘UK’ and the animals individual animal number, again it would require to be separate from the official ID, for example at the bottom of the tag. 

Pigs – already identified 

Where an animal is already registered and identified, the keeper can order a second (management) tag with the prefix ‘GB’ followed by the animals individual number. Export pigs are presently identified with a (single) ear tag displaying UK + herd mark + individual number.  

From 2021, for pigs exported to the EU this tag will additionally also have ‘GB’ printed on it.