Tagging livestock

When do i need to tag livestock?

All animals leaving a property (PIC) must be identified with an NLIS accredited device before moving off the property unless a permit is obtained from the state or territory authority.

How can I order NLIS tags and devices?

All devices that are NLIS accredited will have the NLIS logo printed on them. Cattle devices will also have the words 'Do not remove' printed on the male button.

If your property is in...

Order your NLIS tags and devices by...


Contacting Biosecurity Queensland or ordering directly from a tag manufacturer or rural merchandiser/reseller.


Completing DPIPWE's NLIS Registration Form


Using Agriculture Victoria's online tag ordering system.

South Australia

Contacting a tag manufacturer or rural merchandiser/reseller directly.

New South Wales

Contacting your nearest Local Land Services office or ordering directly from a tag manufacturer or rural merchandiser/reseller.

Northern Territory

Using the DPIF website to download an order form.

Western Australia

Contacting a tag manufacturer or rural merchandiser/reseller directly.

For more information about NLIS tags, devices and tag manufacturers, see the Accredited Devices Lists for Cattle and Sheep and Goats.

What is an (electronic) RFID? What is a (visual) NLISID?

An electronic Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) has both an NLISID and an RFID number. Both of these numbers can be used to individually identify animals on your property. When you buy NLIS devices for your PIC, the device manufacturer registers the NLISID and RFID numbers on the Database, so when you use the Database, you can enter either the NLISID or the RFID associated with a specific animal.

An NLISID number is printed on the outside of an electronic ear tag, or on a visual ear tag indicating a rumen bolus was applied (cattle only). An NLISID number can only be read visually (e.g. when you look at the number on the device on a tagged animal). The first eight characters of an NLISID are the PIC the device was issued to.

An RFID number is assigned to the electronic RFID chip inside a device. An RFID number can only be read electronically (e.g. when you scan animals with a reader).

I've received an animal without a tag. What should I do?

If you receive an animal without a tag, you should apply a post-breeder tag to the animal.

Post-breeder tags for cattle are orange, and post-breeder tags for sheep and goats are pink.

How can I find out an animal's tag number if I can't get near the animal?

If the animal is electronically tagged, try to read the animal's device electronically using a wand (or employ an agent to do so). You may also be able to put the animal into a crush if there is one available.

Alternatively, the previous owner of the animal may have a record of the animal’s tag number. If you can at least obtain the unique last 5 digits of the animal’s tag number and have the previous owner’s PIC, the NLIS Helpdesk may be able to help you work out the animal's full tag number using this information.

Please note that it is not possible to record a movement of electronically tagged livestock without an RFID or NLISID number.

What is the correct way to tag livestock?

Livestock should be tagged so that the tag is applied in the middle of the animal's ear, in accordance with the tag manufacturer's instructions.

A correctly applied cattle tag should be applied to the animal's right ear, as shown below:

A correctly applied sheep tag should usually be applied to the animal's left ear, as shown below. Please refer to your State/Territory NLIS authority for specific requirements.

When must livestock be tagged?

Any livestock that are sold or moved off your property must be tagged with NLIS-accredited tags.

However, tagging exemptions are in place for harvested (feral) and dairy goats in some states. Contact your NLIS state/territory authority for more information.

For information regarding the tagging of EU cattle, please contact EUCAS on 1800 305 544 (Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm) for more information.

Do I need to notify the NLIS when I tag an animal?

No. You do not need to notify the NLIS when you tag an animal on your property.

Please note that the NLIS Database does not distinguish between tags that you have applied to your animals and tags that are still unused.

All devices are automatically registered to your PIC by the relevant tag manufacturer when they are issued.

Why are there no flag-style tags for cattle that are NLIS-accredited?

In an effort to improve retention of NLIS electronic ear tags in the future, NLIS Ltd has decided that the sole purpose of NLIS devices should be to carry required NLIS information. Therefore, NLIS Ltd has decided to phase out combination ear tags which carry both NLIS and management information, also known as “2 in 1” tags or “flag” tags.

NLIS Ltd have undertaken a process to amend the “NLIS (Cattle) Standard for RFID Devices” to disallow combined NLIS and management tags. From 15 November 2013 all NLIS-accredited cattle tags are for NLIS purposes only.

Manufacturers have been cooperating with NLIS Ltd to remove this style of tag from sale in Australia. From 15 November 2013, this style of tag can no longer be supplied as an NLIS-accredited device.

“2 in 1” style tags purchased before 15 November 2013 that carry the NLIS logo are still able to be used for NLIS.  Producers who have already purchased this style of tag can continue to use the tags until their supply is exhausted.  Also, there is no requirement to retag cattle that already have a “2 in 1” style tag.

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