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How your livestock intended for EU export need to be identified after a no-deal Brexit.

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First published:
25 October 2019
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What do I need to do if I want to export livestock to the EU after a no-deal Brexit?

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you can continue exporting livestock to the EU. But you’ll need to follow some extra rules on ear-tagging.

You currently use the alpha country code 'UK' on the ear-tags of livestock.

In a no-deal Brexit, live animals exported to the EU will also need to be tagged with  an ISO country code, either:

  • GB (or GBR)
  • 826

Sheep: no change to existing rules for export

Sheep are double tagged with UK ear tags. One of these is an electronic identification (EID) tag.

The numeric ISO code for Great Britain and Northern Ireland (826) is already encoded in all UK sheep EID tags. So, there would be no need for an additional EU export tag.

Cattle: use an additional export tag and return passport to BCMS

Cattle are double tagged with ear tags which include the country code UK and the animal’s individual ID number.

Cattle for export to the EU will need an additional export tag including the:

  • ISO country identifier (GB or 826)
  • animal's individual ID number

There are no requirements about the type of tag (for example flag tag or button tag) or colour of this additional tag.

Cattle will no longer need to be accompanied by their passport on export to a member state:

  • keepers in Great Britain will need to return the passports to BCMS within 7 days of export
  • keepers in Northern Ireland will no longer need to request a passport for cattle for export

Pigs: export ear tag must read GB or 826

Pigs are usually batch identified by their herd mark, using double slap marks (shoulder tattoos). Some pigs, may be individually identified, usually with a single ear tag for example those:

  • for show
  • moved to artificial insemination centres

On export, pigs are identified with an export ear tag or ear tattoo bearing UK plus the animal’s herd mark and an individual number. Exports to the EU will need an ear tag or ear tattoo of GB or 826, plus the animal’s herd mark and an individual number.


The electronic identification of goats in Wales is voluntary. But, on export, they must have an EID tag bearing the ISO country code GB or ‘826’ as well as the animals individual identification number.

Where do I get these tags?

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, your usual ear tag supplier will be able to provide these tags. You should tell them they are for animals intended for export to the EU.

Your ear tag supplier will print the tags and deliver them to you in the usual way. You can apply the tags to the animal. You should record that you have done so in your holding register. The animal can then be exported as normal.

You should allow 3 to 6 days for this process, to allow time for your tag supplier to produce and deliver your tags.

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