Following the end of the EU exit transition period, Northern Ireland is subject to the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This requires Northern Ireland to maintain regulatory alignment with the EU on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, including European Commission rules on livestock identification and movement.
This means that European Commission legislation, which sets out how cattle, pigs, sheep and goats should be identified, and how their movements are recorded, remains in operation in Northern Ireland.
DAERA will continue to enforce and regulate the identification, registration and movement of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats in accordance with the following pieces of European legislation:
- Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 for cattle;
- Council Directive 2008/71/EC for pigs; and
- Council Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 for sheep and goats
as well as corresponding domestic legislation.
There will be no change to how cattle, pigs, sheep and goats are identified for movement within Northern Ireland, from Northern Ireland to GB or to and from EU Member States, including the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
However, if you are moving cattle, pigs, sheep or goats into Northern Ireland (NI) from Great Britain (GB), you will need to ensure that the GB keeper/ seller has correctly identified these animals to ensure they comply with the new entry requirements. You will also be required to re-tag livestock brought from GB to your holding in NI.
Identification of Animals born in Northern Ireland or resident in Northern Ireland prior to January 2021
Q. Will there be any change to the way animals, which are born and resident in (NI), are tagged from January 2021?
A. There will be no change to the way animals are identified in Northern Ireland. All livestock will continue to be tagged with the same identification tags, using the same DAERA issued identification numbers.
Q. I have livestock on my holding with GB, ROI or other Member State issued tags which moved to NI before January 2021. Do I need to do anything with these animals?
A. No. All livestock which has been resident on a holding in NI prior to 1st January 2021 must retain the original means of identification, even if that tag/ identification number was issued in GB, ROI or another member state.
Identification Requirements for cattle, pigs, sheep and goats moving from GB (England, Scotland & Wales) to Northern Ireland from January 2021
Rules for entering NI from GB
Q. Are there any changes to the way livestock are identified when animals are moving from GB (England, Scotland & Wales) to Northern Ireland, from January 2021?
A. From 1st January 2021, GB will trade with the EU (including Northern Ireland) as a third country.
As a third country, GB will be required under EU legislation to use the official International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) two letter country code ‘GB’ on tags, for livestock moving to Northern Ireland and EU member states.
This means that, from January 2021, GB animals moving to NI will need to be identified with a tag bearing the ‘GB’ country code, in order to comply with entry requirement rules.
Q. What will this new tag look like?
A. From January 2021, GB keepers who are selling or moving livestock to a keeper in NI will be expected to attach an “export” tag to animals printed with the country code ‘GB’, unless those animals already have the letters GB printed on their existing official ear tags.
Q. How will these tags be applied to animals before they enter Northern Ireland?
A. For cattle, sheep or goats, the GB keeper/ seller should:
- For animals already identified (i.e. with UK tags) - an additional ear tag showing ‘GB’ followed by the animal’s existing individual ID number
- For new-born/ previously unidentified animals – these animals will have tags(s) with the GB suffix displayed after UK and the animal’s ID number.
The existing requirement for a single export tag or ear tattoo is unchanged – but the tag will now have GB suffix displayed after UK and the animal’s herd + ID number.
Identification of livestock moving from GB to a holding in NI
Q. How do I identify livestock that have moved from GB to my holding in NI from January 2021?
A. NI Protocol requirements mean that livestock moving from GB to NI are treated as third country imports. Subsequently, their GB-issued means of identification is not recognised under European law.
All livestock moving from GB to NI for breeding and production purposes will need to be re-tagged by the receiving NI keeper unless the livestock being imported are identified with a tag number previously issued by DAERA (for example UK 9 or 17 prefix) or a current EU Member State ( eg. DE, DK, IE or 372 prefix). This is because, under the relevant EU law, which will continue to apply to Northern Ireland, animals must be identified, upon entry from a third country, with a unique identification code, related to the holding of destination.
Q. How soon must GB animals which have moved to NI for breeding and production be re-identified?
A. Sheep and goats must be re-identified within 14 days of arriving in NI and before leaving the holding of destination in NI.
Cattle must be re-identified within 20 days of arriving in NI and before leaving the holding of destination in NI.
Pigs must be re-identified within 30 days of arriving in NI and before leaving the holding of destination in NI.
Q. What tags should I use to identify the GB animals I have moved into my NI herd/flock?
A. You should use your existing stock of tags. Special tags or different coloured tags are not required.
You should apply the next tag in sequence from your normal tag stock to each animal and record the old GB tag number, together with the new number applied to each animal, in your holding register.
For pigs, the letter “F” should be included on the ear tag after the pig’s individual identification number.
Animals Moving Direct to Slaughter in NI from GB
Q. If livestock is moving direct to slaughter from GB to NI does it need to be re-tagged?
A. No, livestock going direct to slaughter does not need to be re-identified. However, livestock moving to NI will need to be identified in a way that satisfies entry requirements, which means having a valid identifier bearing the two letter country code “GB”.
Moving Livestock from NI to GB
Q. Are there any changes to identification or movement requirements for livestock which are being exported from NI to GB?
A. There are no changes to existing livestock ID requirements. Livestock moving from NI to GB will continue, as before.
Moving Livestock from NI to ROI or another EU Member State
Q. Are there any changes to how livestock must be identified if they are being exported to the ROI or another EU Member State after the January 2021?
A. There are no changes to existing livestock ID requirements. Livestock moving to the ROI or another EU member state will continue to move in line with existing arrangements.
Q. Are cattle passports still required for animals moving to NI from GB and from NI to GB?
A. Yes, a cattle passport must be provided for every animal moving from GB to NI or NI to GB, regardless of the purpose of that movement.
Cattle passport information is still required by DAERA to operate a robust UK-wide traceability system.
Q. Are cattle passports still required for imports and exports between NI, the ROI or other EU Member States?
A. Yes, all cattle moving to the ROI or an EU member state must have a passport for export.
Any cattle being imported to NI from the ROI or an EU Member State must come with a passport.