Introduction to Identification, Registration and Movement of Animals

This section contains information related to the identification, registration and movement (IRM) of animals. The identification and tracing of animals for veterinary purposes is of crucial importance for the control of infectious diseases.

Purpose behind Identifying and Registering Animals

When it comes to animal traceability, the Northern Ireland system is a world leader. We have invested millions of pounds and twenty years of technical expertise and innovation in our unique state-of-the-art traceability system, Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS), which includes comprehensive, real time information on animal movements and animal health. Northern Ireland’s NIFAIS is a bespoke IT system developed over a 20+ year period. It is a leading system for livestock traceability and was the first of its kind across the UK and Republic of Ireland.  The system holds records on the registration and traceability for farmed species of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry as well as details for the vast array of registered establishments and operators within the livestock industry in Northern Ireland.

It is therefore critical that the data held on NIFAIS is accurate. Robust governance and risk assessment of our system therefore ensures that consumers and global markets can be confident that it is effective and reliable. This is not just our opinion.  External audit and inspection of our traceability system by third country trading partners and the EU provides further verification, approval and confidence in APHIS.

In summary NIFAIS is used to:

  • operate disease control programmes, for example, TB, Brucellosis and Aujeszky’s Disease
  • rapidly trace movements in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Bluetongue
  • provide public health and trade assurances for the safety of our meat and pork for instance the system ensures that we are able to trace livestock products back to their origin.
  • provide information on residue monitoring.
  • ensure cross compliance requirements are fulfilled to meet the requirement of Single Farm Payments (SFP)
  • provide us with exceptional capability to demonstrate farm to fork traceability and underpins our ability to assure existing customers and secure new export markets (e.g. it recently helped Northern Irish businesses achieve access to beef export markets in the USA and Mexico).

The Department regularly reviews controls to safeguard the integrity of data on NIFAIS and, in light of the risks recently highlighted regarding cattle movements from livestock markets, is implementing further measures to ensure that NIFAIS and livestock traceability in Northern Ireland remains a global leader. Further information on livestock traceability is available here.

Show guidance

Detailed in the guidance below are the requirements relating to the movement of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry into and out of local Agricultural Shows during the 2022 Show season.

Agricultural show guidance 2023


The 6-day whole-farm standstill restriction no longer applies from Monday 4 March 2013. From this date, animals moved onto a holding will not cause movement restrictions for other animals on the holding. This relaxation will allow livestock to move more freely between holdings.

For disease control and animal welfare purposes an animal cannot move to a market if that animal has been in a market in the last 6 days.

Keepers who move cattle, pigs, goats and sheep must comply with the conditions of the revised general movement licence when moving livestock within Northern Ireland.

Application for Animal Group Number

Application and registration of Cattle Herd, Sheep Flock, Goat and Pig Herds, Horses, Poultry and  other Registration Numbers.

Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS)

NIFAIS will replace APHIS which has been in operation since 1999 and is approaching the end of its natural life span and support contract. The NIFAIS programme was established to procure, develop and implement a new system utilising the most up-to-date technologies which will be flexible, adaptable and future proofed. NIFAIS will build upon the already world leading functionality that APHIS currently delivers and enable DAERA to move forward with new advances in IT.

NIFAIS customer feedback

We asked our customers for feedback on APHIS and what they would like NIFAIS to do.

We appreciate the input and want to thank all who supplied us with feedback. We welcome your comments and suggestions that might help us to make improvements to our service.

You can contact us by clicking on the following link

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