Brands, National Livestock Identification System and waybills in the Northern Territory


Under the Northern Territory (NT) Livestock Act 2011, a NT registered brand is required on all cattle prior to being moved off their property of origin, unless they are under eight months of age. Brands can be used on horses, buffalo and camels, but it is not compulsory.

The NT Livestock Act 2011 and associated Regulations uses a three-letter brand system, where one letter must be the letter ‘T’, and a distinctive (symbol) brand system. Branding is a clear way of identifying ownership of stock. In any proceedings, proof that an animal is branded in accordance with the provisions of the Livestock Act with a registered brand is prima facie proof that the animal is the property of the owner of the registered brand. It is important to note that National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) devices do not constitute proof of ownership.


Cross-branding of cattle after purchase is not mandatory in the Northern Territory: however, if livestock are not cross branded, it provides no legal claim to purchased stock. Purchased cattle need to be cross-branded correctly to provide evidence of ownership. The Livestock Regulations clearly stat that:

  1. the first brand applied to livestock must be in the position described on the Certificate of Registration for the brand
  2. each subsequent brand applied to livestock may be in any other position, where there is sufficient space, specified in Schedule 2
  3. a person commits an offence if the person applies a registered brand to livestock in a position other than is required or permitted by sub-regulation (1) or (2)

A brand should not be applied over an old brand. It is an offence to place a brand on the cheek.

Brands – Sale of a property

While the sale of a property may include the stock, the brand cannot be sold to the new owners. Options for brands after the sale of a property are as follows:

  1. If an agreement is made in the sale contract to transfer the brand to the new owners, an application to Transfer Brand must be lodged with the Registrar.
  2. If the registered owner of the brand no longer wishes to use the brand, it may be cancelled. An Application for Cancellation of Brand must be lodged with the Registrar.
  3. If registered owner of the brand wishes to keep the brand, but move it to a new property, a Request to Change of Run must be lodged with the Registrar, together with original certificate/s for amending.

If not the registered owner of new property, Owners Permission to Use Run form is required and must be lodged with the Registrar.

  1. If other brands are registered for use on property/parcel of land, then the new property/land owner/s will need to complete Owners Permission to Use Run form, and lodge with the Registrar.
  2. If the new owner of the land does not want to have other brands registered for use on their property/parcel of land (e.g. continue agreements previous owner/s may have had) then the new Owner must complete Owners Permission to Use Run ‐ REVOKED form and lodge with the Registrar.


A brand is registered to a person or company for use on a nominated NT property only.

Under no circumstances are these brands to be used in any other state or territory. This means the branding iron can only be used by the registered owner (or their representative) on the registered Northern Territory property as stated on Brand Certificate/s.

It does not restrict branded cattle being agisted on other properties. To brand on a NT property not registered with the Registrar is an offence under the Livestock Act 2011 and associated Regulations,and incurs a penalty.

If you are wanting to transfer your brand to a new property, or use your brand on a property for a specified period of time, please contact your local Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer.

Further NT brands information and forms can be found on the Northern Territory Government website.

National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)

National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia's system for identifying and tracing livestock for food safety, product integrity and market access purposes. NLIS was introduced by industry and enacted in State and Territory legislation. In the Northern Territory (NT), NLIS commenced on 1 July 2007, and has been operating now for over a decade.

In the NT, all cattle and buffalo must have an approved NLIS device attached to their off side (right ear) before they are moved off a property, regardless of the destination. All sheep and goats must have an approved transaction tag for any movement off a property.

The owner of the property must ensure all cattle or buffalo (including calves) moving off the property have an NLIS device attached to the right ear before the livestock movement begins. While calves and weaners under eight months of age do not require a brand for movement, they must have an NLIS device. Livestock that were born on the property of origin are to have a white ‘breeder’ NLIS device, cattle that were not born on the property (e.g. agistment cattle, purchased cattle, cattle in transit and strangers) and do not already have a NLIS device, must have an orange ‘post breeder’ NLIS device attached prior to moving off the property.

Please note that calves born in transit are not an exception to the rule. If calves are born in transit yards, or arrive in transit yards without a NLIS device, the transit yard is required to apply an orange ‘post breeder’ device.

NLIS devices are specific to the property that they are ordered for. It is an offence to apply NLIS devices to livestock on a property that the NLIS devices are not registered to.

For further NT information on NLIS and forms visit the Northern Territory Government website.


You must use a Northern Territory (NT) waybill to move all of the following kinds of livestock from one property to another within the NT:

  • alpacas, camels and llamas
  • cattle and buffalo
  • deer
  • goats
  • pigs
  • sheep.

You do not require a waybill for horses or poultry.

A waybill is a record of livestock details and movement. When you move livestock the waybill travels with the stock from the property of origin to the destination property. It is an offence to move cattle without a waybill in the NT.

Waybills are an important part of the National Livestock Identification System and provide detailed information which is used to trace animal movements. The system also acts as a deterrent to stock stealing, identifies the property of origin to abattoirs and export markets, and provides detailed documentation for station management.

It should be noted that any stranger cattle need to be provided with their own separate waybill if travelling in a consignment of cattle going to a property other than their most recent property of origin, e.g. transit yards, export yards, or abattoir. If stranger cattle are being returned to their property of origin, a waybill needs to accompany the cattle.

For more information about waybills, how to fill them in and what you must do with them, read the Agnote Waybills in the NT.

Last updated: 19 December 2017

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