Beginning 24 June, farmers in Northern Ireland (NI) will be able to purchase new ‘XI’ prefix livestock tags from tag suppliers.

The new arrangements impact cattle, sheep and goats and are a legislative requirement under EU Animal Health Law. This law applies in NI under post-Brexit arrangements and facilitates the continued movement of animals from NI into the EU.

DAERA has confirmed it will not be possible to purchase new ‘UK’ prefix tags from 24 June, although farmers with existing stocks of ‘UK’ prefix tags can still use these in their animals up to a cut-off date, provisionally expected to be from 27 January 2025.

Where a farmer needs a replacement tag in the future, this tag will be exactly the same as at present, even after the switch-over to XI tags.


However, where new-born animals are likely to be exported to continental Europe in the future, the advice from DAERA is that farmers should switch to using XI tags from 24 June onwards.

The department also recommends that any ‘UK’ tagged livestock born after 20 April 2023, which are going for export to continental Europe, should be re-tagged with XI tags. This process should be done under the supervision of an official veterinarian.


Existing stocks of new ‘UK’ tags can be used in animals born before the provisional switchover date of 27 January 2025. Beyond that date, any remaining unused tags will become obsolete.

Cattle farmers should also note that there are plans in NI to DNA sample all breeding animals and new-born calves from 1 January 2026 as part of the roll-out of a new livestock genetics programme. That process is likely to require a second ear notch sample (the first tissue sample is for BVD testing). As a result, when buying new XI tags, cattle farmers should only purchase what they need to the end of 2025.