IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE : The information on this site is subject to a legal notice (
Identification of bovine animals (cattle and buffaloes) - Introduction

In April 1997, in response to the BSE crisis, the Council of the European Union implemented a system of permanent identification of individual bovine animals enabling reliable traceability from birth to death.

The basic objectives for Community rules on the identification of bovine animals are:

  • the localisation and tracing of animals for veterinary purposes, which is of crucial importance for the control of infectious diseases,
  • the traceability of beef for public health reasons and,
  • the management and supervision of livestock premiums as part of the common organisation of the market in beef and veal.

The system for the identification and registration of individual bovine animals includes the following elements:

  • double eartags for each animal with an individual number
  • maintaining a register on each holding (farm, market etc.)
  • cattle-passports
  • a computerised database at national level

Within the Action Plan of the Animal Health Strategy the following actions are foreseen to improve the existing traceability system for bovine animals:

An annual report in accordance with Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 1082/2003 is to be submitted to the Commission by each Member State electronically on the following address: