Bovine Animals

Bovine Animals


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

  • 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.)

  • bovine-passports

  • a computerised database at national level with a future voluntary interoperability of bovine databases

To enhance food safety and better safeguard animal health in the EU from 18 July 2019, bovine animals will be allowed to be identified using two means of the identifications: conventional ear tag and an electronic identifier. EU countries and operators may choose the electronic identifier amongst e.g. an electronic ear tag, a ruminal bolus or an injectable transponder.

An annual report on the inspections and functioning of the system in accordance with Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 1082/2003 is to be submitted to the Commission by each EU country electronically on the following address:


Basic Regulation: Regulation (EC) 1760/2000
Detailed rules on eartags, holding registers, passports: Regulation (EC) 911/2004
Control measures: Regulation (EC) 1082/2003
Sanctions: Regulation (EC) 494/98

Derogations and specific measures

Bulls intended for cultural and sporting events: Regulation (EC) 2680/99
Summer grazing in mountain areas: Commission Decision 2001/672/EC
Extension of the tagging period of certain animals kept under extensive conditions: Commission Decision 2006/28/EC
Special rules concerning extension of the tagging period of bisons: Regulation (EC) 509/1999
Extension of the maximum period laid down for the application of eartags to certain bovine animals kept in nature reserves in the Netherlands: Commission Decision 2004/764/EC
Identification of bovine animals kept for cultural and historical purposes on approved premises: Commission Regulation (EC) No 644/2005

Member States information

View the full list of Member States information.