About Recording a Brand


Recording a brand 

Recorded brands provide producers with title to their livestock and help guard against loss and theft.  The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) works to ensure that livestock brands are unique and not deceptively similar to another’s so ownership is clear.  With more than 22,000 brands recorded in the state, finding a unique brand can sometimes be tricky.  Brands must be used exactly as pictured on the brand card in the exact location.   Livestock sold or consigned any other way than how the brand is recorded will cause the brand inspector to hold proceeds of the sale.  Do not order branding irons until you receive your brand card.

Things to consider when applying for a brand:

There are several steps in applying for a brand:

  • Plan ahead. If you need a brand, don’t delay in applying. The process typically takes up to three weeks, but can take longer during busy seasons and if the choices listed on the application cannot be recorded.
  • Decide what you want your livestock brand to look like. What do you want your brand to represent?
  • Cross check your brand choice with currently recorded brands to ensure it is not already recorded. Click here for the NDSA online brand book.
  • Aquaint yourself with the NDSA guidelines and  ND State laws for branding, to making sure that the brand(s) you are choosing will meet all character, format, and ND State Requirements.
  • Please allow 2-3 weeks for your brand application to be processed.
    * Once received, your brand application is reviewed for conflicts with currently recorded brands and then given to the Chief Inspector for final approval.  If your brand is approved you will receive a brand certificate and brand card.  If we are unable to record your brand, a denial letter explaining the conflicts and original form of payment will be returned to the address on the application.
  • Brand Application Fees
    • Brand Recording: $25.00 per location/per species.
    • Payment is required at time of application.
    • Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

Incomplete Brand Application paperwork will be returned to the applicant.



How to submit a brand application.  
  • Complete the Application for Brand Recording.
  • Sign the application.  Brand applications must be original forms with wet signatures of all brand owners listed on the application.  Applications are accepted via mail, or in person at the NDSA Office, 4520 Ottawa St., Bismarck, ND.
  • You can submit three brand choices in order of preference on the application.  Brands are screened for conflicts with other brands in the same position for the same species. Cross reference with the Online Brand Book to ensure the brand you are applying for is not already recorded.
  • Anyone listed on the application must sign it before submitting it.  The recording fee is $25 per position per species. (ex. one position on cattle = $25, one position on cattle and one position on horses = $50.)
  • Locations:
    shoulder, rib and hip 
         Horses and mules: shoulder, hip and jaw
         Swine and sheep: shoulder, hip, jaw and back
         Buffalo: hip or rib
         Sheep and goats: jaw or ear


How to make ownership changes on a brand.  

When the ownership of a brand is changed or updated, a Brand Transfer Form must be completed. The following are required for all brand transfers:

  • Brand Transfer completed and signed by the current and new owners.
    • Signatures on this form must be witnessed by a disinterested party.  Any owner signatures missing the required signed witness are not valid and cannot be accepted to change the brand
  • Transfer fee of $25.00 per position per species
  • In the event that a brand owner dies, the brand must be transferred to remove his or her name from the record.  Refer to the conjunction used to adjoin names on the current brand recording for additional instructions on how to remove a deceased person's name from the record.
  • Contact the Stockmen's Association for information on transfers involving business entities, legal name changes and other special circumstances.





How long is a brand certificate good for?
Brands must be renewed every five years as required by law. Current brands recorded will expire Jan. 1, 2026. 

Can I freeze brand?  
Effective Aug. 1, 2019, freeze brands are now considered legal proof of ownership on cattle in ND, just as they already are on horses and mules.

How do I get a duplicate brand certificate? 
Submit request and $5 per certificate to 4520 Ottawa St., Bismarck, ND 58503.


Brand Recording Tips
How to Read Brands
Branding Tips