Changes to livestock identification tag codes

Date published: 01 March 2024

The prefix code on Northern Ireland livestock tags is set to change from ‘UK’ to ‘XI’.


This change, which is a legal requirement under EU Animal Health Law, will ensure continued unfettered access (subject to normal export eligibility requirements) to both EU and UK internal markets for our livestock and agri-food products.  It will also help prepare for the introduction of bovine electronic identification in the future.

DAERA is currently finalising plans for the January 2025 implementation of the new requirements and will provide more information to livestock keepers in due course.

The new ‘XI’ tags will be available to purchase from tag suppliers later this year and can be used immediately and alongside the ‘UK’ tags.  However, only the ‘XI’ tags can be used after the switchover date of January 2025, which is provisional and will depend on progress in getting the necessary database changes in place.

DAERA officials are continuing to work closely with key industry stakeholders, including tag manufacturers and suppliers, abattoirs, and markets on the implementation of these new regulations.

Keepers are advised that they should not order large quantities of ‘UK’ tags that cannot be used from January 2025.


Notes to editors: 

1. Final dates for roll out of these changes are expected to be confirmed over the next few weeks. 

2. In order to implement this change, amendments to the Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) database are required.  As the amendments are still in development, an exact timescale is yet to be confirmed, but following these amendments:

a) All new cattle tags issued in NI will begin with “XI 0”, replacing the current UK 9.  This will allow the whole tag number to be encoded on electronic identification devices in future.

b) All new sheep tags issued in NI will begin with XI 17 replacing the current UK 17.

3. More information on the change - including a set of Q&As – is available from the DAERA website.

4. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.

5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office:

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800 hrs and 0800 hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110


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