Is Microchipping A Legal Pet Requirement?

Microchipped dog at vet being read by microchip reader

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Do I Microchip My Dog And Cat? Is It The Law?

It may seem harsh to pop a chip into your beloved pet but since April 2016 in England, Scotland and Wales, it has been the law to microchip puppies between eight and twelve weeks old and before they go off to their new owner by the breeder selling the pups and all older dogs. Breeders must be the puppies first registered keeper.

The new dog owner is then provided with details of the registration so that they could contact the database company and update the ownership details.

Any dog owner was obliged to ensure their dog was microchipped by 2016 and fines are imposed if dogs are in public places without their ID number on their collar or ID tags.

What Is Microchipping?

Microchipping involves putting a special metal item, the size best described as a grain of rice, inserted by a fine needle into the scruff back of the neck area of the puppy or dog. It should be a painless procedure when carried out by the specially trained person trained not to cause discomfort or pain to the pet. The details of the coded chip are then placed into a specially held private database including the owners name and address and contact number for the pet. There are seven professional firms approved by the government that operate currently, holding this invaluable information about pets being necessary to help reunite the thousands of pets that go missing, are stolen or stray each year.

Wearing Collars And ID Tags

Puppies and dogs must wear a collar with an ID plate or disc attached bearing contact details. Many owners add ‘I’m Tagged’ on the plate or disc which helps anyone finding a stray dog to know immediately to contact a vet or council dog warden to establish ownership by a special electronic reader put close to the back of the dogs scruff that can then display the details on its reading panel. The vet will then log those details into the national database and this will bring up the logged ownership details and the pet and owner can be reunited.

It is vital that pet owners keep their contact details up to date on the databases.

Dogs still have to wear a collar with a tag on that includes the owners’ name and address when in public places including parks. Owners’ who fail to comply with microchipping pets can be fined up to £500.00 if caught.

When a dog has been microchipped by a trained professional the dog owner is provided with details of the registration so that they could contact the database company and update the ownership details.

Dogs provided new homes from charity pet shelters are microchipped before leaving and their new owners are required to update their details and only vets can exempt dogs where they believe the dog should not be chipped for health reasons.

In Northern Ireland, there are different regulations and owners have to apply for a dog licence and must have their animals chipped before applying. See information on the website, Northern

Cat Rabbits And Small Pets

Whilst the law states that dogs must be microchipped in the UK from 6 April 2016, cats or other small pets currently do not have to. as a legal requirement. Cats can be microchipped depending on their size from about 10-12 weeks. Cats obtained from animal shelters are likely to have been chipped whilst in their care.

Larger rabbits physically can be microchipped and there is a growing trend that more expensive breeds including small pets are being microchipped to help dwarf the problems of pet theft.

You can read more about pet theft in our post about Pet Theft Reform and What Do I Do When My Pet Goes Missing?


The cost of microchipping is generally about £15.00 – £20.00. Plus you’ll need to buy an ID tag and these range from about £2.99. Most good pet suppliers stock these, as do high street Timpson’s who have a range including designer style and can inscribe your details.

You may prefer to have an inscription plate that is fixed on the collar particularly if your dog or cat keeps loosing a dangling tag or finds it a nuisance. These cost a little more and available from several online quality pet stores.

Read the dog microchip government information where it states the organisations offering free microchipping.

Travelling Abroad

Dogs and other pets when travelling abroad require a number of documents to be completed, jabs, most likely a rabies jab, a picture of the pet and be microchipped.

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