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Livestock ID and Traceability | Cattle | Getting Started

Getting Started - RegistrationCalf

There are a number of steps you need to take before you move cattle onto your holding in order to operate within the requirements of the law:

  1. Firstly, you must register your holding with the Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) through your local office. They will give you a County Parish Holding (CPH) number which is a unique code allocated to the land where animals are kept - this is used when reporting and recording animals moving on to or off your holding.
  2. You must then inform your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office who will give you a herd mark for your holding. The herd mark means you will be able to buy ear tags for your cattle.
  3. A further requirement before you move cattle is you need to inform the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS)  and they will then record your details on the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) and send you information.


British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS)

The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) is part of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is responsible for operation of the cattle tracing system on behalf of Scottish, English and Welsh Ministers.

The service is based in Workington, Cumbria and was established to manage the Cattle Tracing System (CTS). BCMS became fully operational on 28 September 1998 and merged with RPA on 1 April 2003.

The BCMS functions are:

  • maintain a register of births, deaths and imports of cattle to be used for animal health and subsidy control purposes;
  • issue cattle passports;

  • record where individual cattle are;
  • operate a dedicated Helpline and provide online facilities for delivering its services.

Customers who are not registered with CTS Online can contact BCMS, for details click here.

A dedicated HELPLINE (0845 050 1234) is the main point of contact for BCMS, and all calls are charged at the local rate.

The lines are open from:

Monday - Friday 8.30am to 5pm


You can also email your enquiries to: Bcms-enquiries@bcms.rpa.gsi.gov.uk


Cattle Tracing System (CTS)

The Cattle Tracing System (CTS) was introduced on 28th September 1998 and is run by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS). This was in the response to EU Legislation which required all member states to introduce a computerised tracing system before the end of 1999. This system allows the government to record data relating to cattle in order that animals can be traced for a number of reasons including disease control.

There are four parts that make up the Cattle Tracing System (CTS)

  • Cattle Tagging
  • Cattle Registration (cattle passports)
  • Farm Registers (including movement notifications)
  • National Database (CTS operated by BCMS)

CTS records the :

  • Identification and death of all cattle
  • Movements of cattle issued with passports from the 28th September 1998
  • Movements of older cattle since 29th January 2001

CTS makes it possible for to :

  • Check which animals are present on a holding
  • Check easily where cattle have been during their lifetime
  • Trace cattle more easily in the event of a disease outbreak
  • Give buyers greater assurance about an animals history
  • Strengthen consumer confidence in beef

Keepers are also able to check information held about their cattle on CTS through the CTS Online Website