From 1 January 2025, the ‘UK9’ prefix on cattle tags used in Northern Ireland (NI) is to be replaced with the code ‘XI’, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has said.

The change is a legal requirement under the EU Animal Health Law, with this legislation applying in NI as part of the wider post-Brexit arrangements which gives NI access to EU markets.

The change will also help NI prepare for the future introduction of bovine electronic identification.

In a statement, DAERA said it was “finalising plans” for the switch to an XI tag and will provide more information to livestock keepers “in due course”.


The Department added that XI tags will be available later this year and when purchased, can be used immediately.

However, it is not totally certain that the UK tags will be ditched from 1 January 2025, with this cut-off date described as “provisional” and dependent on progress “to get the necessary database changes in place”.

Herd keepers are advised not to order large quantities of UK tags, although that advice will have come too late for many farmers, especially those who availed of ‘special offers’ from tag companies earlier this year.