NLIS cattle tags

Producers are required to ensure cattle are identified and NLIS transfer records and movement declarations are accurately completed, to support the livestock industry and meet traceability requirements.

Property Identification Codes (PICs)

Under Victorian law, individuals must have a PIC for the properties on which they graze cattle and other livestock.

There is no cost to apply for a PIC, or to update PIC details.

Apply for or amend a PIC online

You can apply for or amend a Property Identification Code (PIC) online.

Apply for or amend a PIC online

Other ways to apply for a PIC:

Download, print, complete and post a application form (do not email):

Contact the PIC Helpline on 1800 678 779 to have a form mailed or faxed to you or to cancel a PIC.

For more information see property identification codes.

Cattle tagsWhite cattle tags

All cattle, regardless of age, must be tagged with an NLIS (cattle) tag before being dispatched off a property.

There are 2 types of cattle devices:

  • breeder tags
  • post-breeder tags.

Breeder tags are white and are used to permanently identify cattle before they leave their property of birth.

Orange cattle tagsPost-breeder tags are orange and are used to permanently identify introduced cattle, not already identified, or that have lost their original tag.

It is very important that the correct NLIS tag is used, if not it will falsely indicate the breeding and life history of an animal.

When applying NLIS cattle tags:

  • attach to the right (offside) ear
  • only one NLIS (Cattle) tag should be attached to an animal
  • those purchased for use on one property must not be applied to cattle located on another property
  • must not be used to identify any other livestock species (for example, sheep)
  • must not be removed until the animal is processed in an abattoir or knackery — unless the device is damaged and cannot be read electronically
  • apply tags according to the manufacturer's instruction.

For more information about livestock identification or electronic NLIS cattle, sheep and goat tags see Livestock identification.

Cattle being sent to the knackery

Adult cattle that have died and are to be collected by a knackery must be identified with an NLIS (Cattle) tag.

Dead bobby calves (less than 6 weeks of age) that are dispatched to a knackery must be identified with an NLIS (Cattle) tag on which is printed the Property Identification Code (PIC) of the property from which the calf was dispatched.

Unsafe cattle

Producers who are unable to safely tag their cattle must obtain a permit prior to dispatching cattle without NLIS identification.

Please call the Agriculture Victoria NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, for more information on getting a permit.

It is an offence to dispatch, transport and to auction cattle that are not correctly NLIS identified.

Ordering NLIS cattle electronic tags

Victorian producers can purchase NLIS tags for cattle at cost-competitive prices.

There are 2 ways to purchase NLIS cattle tags:

Order National Livestock Identification (NLIS) Tags from Agriculture Victoria

Call our NLIS helpline on 1800 678 779 between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, submit a paper application form or order online.

Order early as delivery delays may be experienced by Australia Post due to COVID-19. Parcel tracking information will be emailed to you once your order is manufactured.

Order NLIS tags online

You can also download an application form, print, complete and return to Agriculture Victoria by post (do not email these forms):

Recording livestock movement on the NLIS database

When animals are moved between properties with 2 different PICs (often called a P2P movement) it is the responsibility of the buyer or receiver of the cattle to notify the NLIS database of stock movements by conducting a transfer on the NLIS database within 2 days of the animals arrival.

For more information see property to property movements of livestock.

Cattle on agistment

Cattle moving to an agistment property must be identified with an NLIS cattle tag.

PICs are allocated to a parcel of land that may consist of more than one block within the one locality, operating as part of one livestock enterprise. As long as the land on which the livestock are agisted and leased is in the same locality (in the same shire or in a neighbouring shire), then both blocks of land can be covered by the 'home' PIC.

If the agistment property operates under a different PIC, the movement of the cattle must be recorded on the NLIS database as for other P2P movements. The database transfer must be completed within 2 days of the arrival of the cattle at the agistment property.

Cattle born on an agistment property must be identified with an NLIS breeder tag issued for use on that property.

National Vendor Declarations (NVD)

An NVD must be completed before cattle are dispatched off a property to a saleyard, scale, abattoir, show, event or when moving livestock to a property with a different PIC.

The NVD must be provided to the receiver of the cattle by no later than the time of arrival of the stock.

For more information see National vendor declarations.

Lifetime traceable livestock

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) provides a life history of cattle, sheep and goats that are identified with accredited NLIS tags or devices.

An animal is deemed lifetime traceable if every property of residence in its life has been registered on the NLIS database. Any movements that are not recorded on the NLIS database result in a gap in the history of the animal and results in the loss of lifetime traceability.

Lifetime traceability is important for biosecurity, disease and residue purposes and helps to protect the Australian livestock industry.

NLIS cattle – background

In 1996, on the recommendation of a government and industry working party, Australia's State and Territory Agriculture and Primary Industries Ministers agreed to develop what became known as the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).

The objective was to enhance identification arrangements by permanently identifying cattle on their property of birth with an ear tag or rumen bolus that could be read quickly and accurately.

In August 2001, the then Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Keith Hamilton, formed the NLIS Implementation Advisory Committee. All major Victorian cattle industry organisations are represented on this committee. The committee developed the timetable for the full implementation of the NLIS in Victoria, including recommendations in relation to mandatory tagging. It also has an ongoing advisory role.

In 2005 the Victorian Government and the cattle industry fully implemented the NLIS starting with the requirement that cattle born on or after 1 January 2002 be identified with an NLIS tag before leaving their property of birth.

More information

Agriculture Victoria NLIS Helpline operates between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Contact Agriculture Victoria on 1800 678779 or email

Integrity Systems Company operates the NLIS Database Helpdesk from 9am to 5pm (Sydney time), Monday to Friday. Contact the NLIS Database Helpdesk on 1800 654 743 or email:

Or for more information visit the NLIS website.

Page last updated: 04 Oct 2021