The UK government has issued new guidance on changes to ear tags for livestock exports and movements from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland from January 1.

The government is encouraging livestock exporters to prepare for new changes that will apply to ear tagging when the transition period ends.

Livestock in the UK are currently identified with "UK" ear tags in accordance with the EU’s single market rules.

From January 1, 2021, the rules for exports of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs to the EU will change.

Exporters from Great Britain will need to ensure their animals are identified with the ISO country code, which is ‘GB’ for the UK. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will also need to meet these requirements.

The government has been working closely with the farming sector to prepare for these changes, and has published updated guidance setting out the actions GB livestock exporters will need to take to get ready for  January 1.

These are as follows:

  • For animals which are already individually identified, apply a third (management) tag with the prefix GB followed by the animal’s individual number;
  • For new-born animals and lambs for export that are not yet individually identified, UK tags with a GB suffix could be applied.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said:

"We have been working closely with the farming industry to find practical solutions to prepare them for January 1.

We encourage livestock exporters to follow the steps set out in our guidance on the changes to ear tagging, and to contact their suppliers.

Exporters should contact importers to confirm that how they identify their animals is acceptable.

Exporters should also contact their ear tag suppliers to ensure that they are able to identify their animals with the correct tags from January 1, 2021.

Animals for export will also need to be accompanied with a new EU Export Health Certificate showing the correct ISO country code and signed by the Official Veterinarian for export.