Compulsory Dog Microchipping Law: What You Need to Know

By on April 6, 2016

If you live in the UK and have not got your dog microchipped yet you could now face a fine of £500.

All dogs in England, Scotland and Wales are now legally required to be chipped by the time they are eight weeks old.

The government says one million dogs - about one in eight of the UK's estimated canine population - have not yet been chipped.

The change for the rest of the UK was announced in 2013.

If local authorities find a dog without a microchip, owners will have up to 21 days to comply with the law or be fined.

Charities such as the Dogs Trust, some local authorities and some vets will microchip dogs without charging - read more about this below.

The new law will not replace current requirements for dogs to wear a collar and tag with their owner's name and address when in a public place.

Animal welfare minister George Eustice: "We are a nation of dog lovers and we want to make sure they stay safe.

"Microchipping our dogs will not only reunite people with their lost or stolen pets, but also help to tackle the growing problem of strays roaming the streets and relieve the burden placed on animal charities and local authorities."

K9 Magazine editor in chief, Ryan O'Meara said:

"Permanent identification of all dogs is a welcome step in the right direction toward better animal control in the UK. It should be something that all dog owners who want to recover lost pets will benefit from. It's important that the law is not misunderstood to be a cure-all against some of the other anti-social dog ownership problems we face in the UK. A dog with a microchip still needs to be well trained and looked after as a microchipped dog is no more or less likely to stray or to cause someone else injury. Hopefully this new legislation heralds a change in approach by successive Governments who have overseen increasing problems including dog attacks and irresponsible ownership. They should now turn their focus to the legislation of dog breeding and to completely overhauling the outdated, unfair, ineffective 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act."

Compulsory Microchipping Law: Dogs Trust FAQs

The Dogs Trust charity has been one of the leading voices behind calls for the UK compulsory microchipping law for dogs. Here is their advice for owners who might still have questions about the legislation:

Microchipping will become compulsory in England, Scotland and Wales on 6th April. All dog owners must ensure that their dog is microchipped, and their contact details on their dog's microchip are up to date.

What is microchipping and why is it important?

A microchip is a small electronic chip around the size of a grain of rice, which is implanted under the dog's skin, and contains a unique number that can be read by a scanner. The dog keeper's contact details relating to each number are logged on a central database, so should the dog ever go missing or be stolen, he can be scanned by local authorities and returned to his keeper swiftly and safely. It is vital that the keeper takes responsibility for updating their details with the database should their circumstances change.

Why and when is the law changing?

By 6th April, every keeper in England, Wales and Scotland must have their dog microchipped and ensure the registered details are kept up to date, or risk a fine of up to £500. Dogs Trust has long campaigned for this law change and sees microchipping as a vital part of responsible dog ownership. A microchip, which cannot easily be removed increases the likelihood that a lost, stolen or straying dog can be identified and returned to its owner.

How do you microchip your dog? Is it the same for both a puppy and older dogs?

Yes, the microchipping process is the same no matter the size, or breed of dog. A microchip, which is about the same size as a grain of rice is quickly and easily inserted under the skin of the dog, between their shoulder blades. There are smaller chips available for little dogs.

Where is my information stored? How will it help my dog be returned to me?

The unique number on your dog's microchip is logged to a central database, along with the registered keeper's and dog's details. If a stray dog is found, the dog warden or veterinary practice will scan the dog and then contact the database to obtain the keeper's details, allowing the dog to be reunited with the keeper swiftly and easily.

Dogs Trust wants to help as many people as possible to comply with the new law by providing chipping free of charge. You can visit their Chip My Dog website to find details of your nearest Dogs Trust rehoming centre, local events or participating councils.

Will microchipping hurt my dog?

No anaesthetic is required, and the procedure should cause no more discomfort than a standard vaccination.

Do I have to pay to update my details?

Yes, you will have to pay a fee every time you amend your contact details to the database. Most databases offer a premium service which often works out cheaper over the course of your dog's life. This varies from £15-£30.

How much does a microchip cost? Are there any schemes running to help with payment?

Dogs Trust will continue to provide free microchipping through booked appointments at all of our rehoming centres, after 6th April. Some local councils will microchip dogs free of charge. Your veterinary practice will also be able to microchip your dog, but this may be for a small charge.

Where and how can I get my dog microchipped, or update my details?

Click here for details of local events, your nearest rehoming centre and participating vets.

I don't know which database I'm on. How can I find out?

It's important you know which microchipping database your pet is registered to in the UK. Click here to find out which database you are on. If you don't know your microchip number, you can find out by having the chip scanned. You can find details of scanning locations and participating vets, here.

I want to protect my identity, so don't want to microchip my dog.

When you microchip your dog, your details are stored safely with the database provider and would never be shared.

What could happen if you don't get your dog microchipped?

Keepers who fail to chip their dogs or ensure that their registered details are kept up to date risk receiving a fine of up to £500.

Does microchipping replace the existing collar and tag law?

No, your dog will still need to wear a collar and tag that states the current name and address of their owner, when in a public place.

How will microchipping be enforced?

Local Authorities and the Police will have the power to enforce this new law.

The Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 2014 Summary

-    For every keeper of a dog that is currently not microchipped they have until 6 April 2016 to microchip their dog and register with an approved microchip database

-    From 6 April 2016 keepers must ensure puppies are microchipped and registered with an approved microchip database before 8 weeks old prior to leaving the breeder

-    Any changes to a keeper's details must be updated on an approved microchip database

-     Where a dog is transferred to a new keeper &ndash the new keeper must, unless the previous keeper had already done so, record their contact details on an approved microchip database

-    No keeper may transfer a dog to a new keeper this includes breeders until it has been microchipped, unless a certificate from a veterinary surgeon has been issued regarding the dog&rsquos health

-    Full details need to be recorded on an approved database for the dog and the keeper. This includes the name and address of the keeper, and if the keeper is the breeder and has a local authority licence this will also need to be recorded

-    Regarding implanting microchips, no person may implant a microchip unless they are a veterinary professional or if they have been on a training course approved by the Secretary of State

-     Any person that has already received training regarding implanting microchips will be exempt from the above. If a person cannot show they have received any training only practical experience then they will have to acquire appropriate training

-    Anyone who identifies an adverse reaction to a microchip or the failure of a microchip must report it to the Secretary of State

-    The provision in the regulations also allows docked working dogs up to 12 weeks to be microchipped instead of 8 weeks, provided the tail docking requirements are met. However, the microchipping regulations that require a puppy to be microchipped and registered before transfer to a new keeper remain

Anyone who does not have their dog microchipped after 6 April 2016 will have 21 days to have the dog microchipped, and failure to do so may result in a fine of up to £500. Under the new regulations it is also a requirement that the records must be kept up to date and failure to do so could lead to enforcement action resulting in a fine for non-compliance. Other offences that may result in a fine of up to £500 include implanting a microchip without relevant authorisation, and not reporting any adverse reactions to the Secretary of State.

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