Regulations and waybills for transporting and selling livestock

This page lists the common regulatory requirements when transporting livestock within Queensland. Should you require further information on any of these topics, please contact your local stock inspector or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

National Livestock Identification System

The National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) is a tool to identify and track the movements of all cattle, sheep, goats and pigs from their property of birth to eventual live export or slaughter. The NLIS involves the use of permanent NLIS-approved identification devices (i.e. ear tags or tattoos) that stay with the animal until death.

In addition to the identification requirements, movements of animals between locations with different property identification codes (PICs) are reported to and recorded in the NLIS database. Reports of movements must be made within 48 hours of the completed movement to keep the NLIS database current, which is critical in emergency animal disease responses.

For cattle, reports to the database must contain each individual animal's identification number (either the radio identification number or the visual number). However, for sheep and goats the number of animals in the group is sufficient. Reports are not currently required for pigs.

Reports of movements must contain standard information such as the date of movement, the property identification codes of the starting and ending place of the movement, the number of animals and the National Vendor Declaration (NVD)/waybill serial number.

For more information on NLIS .


A waybill is the minimum compulsory movement document that must accompany travelling alpaca, buffalo, camels, cattle, deer, goats, guanacos, horses (exemptions apply), llamas, sheep and vicunas. An equivalent document (e.g. NVD/waybill, PigPass or interstate travelling stock statement) can be used instead of a waybill. The waybill is completed by the owner or authorised agent of the owner, or the occupier of the holding where the stock originated.

A completed waybill must travel with the drover and be given to the person receiving the stock.  The waybill must be kept by the person completing it and the person receiving the stock for 2 years after it is completed. Penalties may apply for incorrect use of waybills.

For commercial reasons and to meet domestic and export food safety requirements, combined NVD/waybills are generally used when stock are moved to saleyards or to slaughter (see below).

Complete an online waybill or contact the Customer Service Centre .

Find out more about waybills

National Vendor Declarations

National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) were developed by the livestock industries to assist producers to document the history of chemical use and treatment of animals offered for sale. The details provided assist processors and buyers seeking information on the history of sale stock.

NVDs are an industry marketing initiative for both cattle, sheep, goats and pigs (also known as the PigPass). NVDs do not have statutory basis (except where combined with a waybill - see below) and are not compulsory when selling livestock; however, people completing NVDs are legally obliged to ensure that any information made about their stock is completely accurate. Penalties exist if false or misleading information is given on the declaration.

Beef producers who wish to sell cattle into the European Union market will need to complete the European Union Vendor Declaration (EUVD). This declaration is required for cattle from the European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS) when moving to European Union-accredited saleyards and abattoirs. For more information, see Producing cattle for European markets.

Combined NVD/waybill

Combined NVD/waybills are available for cattle, bobby calves, sheep and goats from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). The combined NVD/waybill has legal recognition in that it meets the legal requirements for a waybill. A special combined EUVD/waybill is also available.

NVD/waybills are produced in books of triplicate forms and are available from Meat and Livestock Australia. Livestock owners registered under the Livestock Production Assurance program should note that specific requirements may exist in relation to the use of NVD/waybills in order to maintain a full declaration history for the livestock.

The combined NVD/waybill may be obtained by contacting Meat and Livestock Australia on 1800 683 111.

The PigPass is only available from:

Australian Pork Limited
PO Box 148
Deakin West ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6285 2200
Fax: +61 2 6285 2288

Vendor Declaration for Horses and Waybill (Transported Stock Statement) or (HVD)

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) recently introduced an updated vendor declaration for horses which must be completed by their owners.

A vendor declaration for horses and waybill is a form that records important information about all drug or chemical treatments for at least the last six months before a horse is moved to slaughter. This protects export market access.

When do I need a vendor declaration and waybill?

A horse owner (or authorised agent of the owner) and a 'horse accumulator' must complete a vendor declaration and waybill when selling a horse for the purpose of slaughter or moving/consigning a horse to slaughter.

To obtain a HVD make contact with AQIS export accredited horse processing abbatoir or a 'horse accumulator' known by the industry.

Travel permits

Travel or stock permits assist in disease control and animal traceback. Most livestock movements will only require a waybill, but a travel permit is also required for moving livestock:

Travel permits are available from Biosecurity Queensland .

Tagging with registered tail tags

Registered tail tags are now only applied to cattle in some specific situations to assist with identification of cattle at saleyards or abattoirs. Tail tags bear the Property Identification Code number.

When to use tail tags

The only people now required to use tail tags when selling cattle are those with cattle on what are known as 'T' status properties or for cattle under the European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme. Cattle from these properties, when consigned to saleyards, must be identified with both NLIS permanent tags and tail tags.

Tail tags may also be used voluntarily by owners to provide additional identification in relation to HGP Free status pink tail tags with the words 'HGP Free'), or for AUS-MEAT-accredited feedlots (purple tags).

Please contact your local Stock Office for further information.

Types of tail tags

White tags with black lettering may be used by 'T' status property owners.

Pink HGP-free tags may be used to indicate that the person responsible for the husbandry of the cattle is declaring that hormonal growth promotants (HGPs) have never been used on the cattle to which these tags are applied. A declaration to this effect must be signed when ordering HGP-free tags. Pink tags may be used by owners of 'T' status properties if they are declaring the cattle to be HGP-free. The vendor declaration statement is usually considered sufficient for HGP-free status and a pink tail tag is no longer considered essential by meatworks buyers. Should there be any doubt about purchased animals being previously treated with HGPs, the animals must not be identified with pink HGP-free tags.

Purple tags may be used on cattle from AUS-MEAT-accredited feedlots.

Lime-green tags (with an E in a circle) indicate that the cattle are eligible for the European Union market because they have never been treated with HGP and carry a radio frequency identification device (RFID) approved under the NLIS. The property is also European Union-accredited.

Blue or saleyard tail tags may be applied at saleyards to cattle that have non-functional NLIS tags to allow them to be identified after sale by the purchaser. Most saleyards replace such tags at the time of sale with a saleyard post breeder tag.

Brands and earmarks

All cattle of 100 kg or more liveweight and all pigs of 30 kg or more liveweight must bear a registered brand before being sold.

For more information about registering and use of brands and earmarks, see Branding and earmarking livestock in Queensland or contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Withholding periods and export slaughter intervals

A product's withholding period (WHP) is the length of time required to ensure that any chemical residue has fallen below the maximum residue limit (MRL) at product harvest. Maximum residue limits are the maximum chemical concentrations that are permitted in foodstuffs. Withholding periods are legally binding and are printed on chemical/drug labels.

Withholding periods and export slaughter intervals (ESIs) can differ. Export slaughter intervals refer to voluntary export guidelines designed to ensure chemical residues fall below overseas maximum residue limits, as these can vary from country to country. Tables for export slaughter intervals and withholding periods are found on the reverse side of the National Vendor Declaration form.

Livestock producers must ensure that any animals made available for slaughter comply with withholding periods and export slaughter intervals.

Further information

Last updated 29 August 2014