Since April 6th 2016, it has been the law for every dog in the UK to be microchipped.
There are no exemptions from this rule, so all pets, working dogs, sizes and breeds must be chipped. Even if you owned your dog before the law came into effect, you must get it done.
Should a dog be found not to have a microchip, the owner could be fined up to £500 if they do not comply with the law within 21 days. An enforcer could also seize the dog.
Why are Dog Microchips The Law?
Microchips are part of a wider plan for more responsible dog ownership.
Their primary use is to make it easier for lost or stray pets to be reunited with their owners. While dog ID tags are also required when in public, it is possible these can become lost or unattached from the collar. A microchip is permanent and cannot be removed.
Approximately 102,000 dogs are lost or stolen every year, so microchips are vital in helping them to be returned home as soon as possible, and there will be less strain on local authorities and kennels who ordinarily have to look after the dogs until their owners are found.
It also makes it easier to trace irresponsible owners or the owners of dogs which attack other animals or people. There is the hope it will also reduce illegal puppy farming.
The law surrounding microchips is enforceable by local authorities, the police, community support officers and other similar regulation enforcers.
Are there any exceptions?
There are no exemptions from the rule in general, but the time limit could be extended under certain circumstances.
If your dog's health is preventing them from being chipped straight away, a veterinarian can arrange to have it done once the animal is healthy again and issue an exemption certificate.
For example, if a veterinarian accepts that your dog is a working dog and the tail must be docked for safety, the period before they need to be chipped is extended to 3 months.
These are very rare circumstances, so there is a high chance you won’t qualify and must comply with standard rules.
It does not matter about the size or breed of your dog. Smaller microchips which require a smaller needle for implantation are available for toy breeds.
What information is on a microchip?
More information can be included on a chip than on an ID tag, including the dog’s history. This includes:
- Breed/crossbreed details
- Sex of the dog
- Dog’s fur colour/s and pattern
- Dog’s date of birth
- Owner’s full name
- Owner’s address
- Owner’s phone number
- Dog’s name given by the owner
- A unique microchip number
- Breeder's licence number and the local authority which they are licensed to (if relevant)
- Dog’s name given by the breeder (if applicable)
This information can be found on a national database, but there is not one single platform where all dogs are registered so check which one your dog is on. You can put the microchip number into a site such as check-a-chip.co.uk to see the details.
Microchip details should be kept up-to-date, so if there are any changes in your circumstances, you must inform the relevant party to make changes to the database.
Is My Dog Already Microchipped?
You can usually feel your dog’s microchip. It is a small, grain of rice-sized pellet between the shoulder blades, where the puppy fat is. Vets and local implanters can check this for you with a scanner.
Breeders must chip puppies by the age of 8 weeks old before they are sold or given to another owner. They must be part of a national database, and the breeder must be the first registered keeper of the dog.
Never buy a puppy which hasn’t already been microchipped, or if you cannot change the details to make you the official new owner.
If you rescue a dog from a charity such as the RSPCA, there is a good chance they will microchip the dog before it is adopted if it hasn’t already been done. They will transfer details over and give you the relevant information, as well as include all known information and history about the dog on the chip.
How Much Does a Microchip Cost?
A microchip only costs around £10 to £30. It can be carried out by vets or a local implanter.
There are some charities which may offer free microchipping for those with little access to funds or other means.
Do I Need to Change the Address on the Microchip if I Move Address?
Yes, you will need to change the address. You should have your microchip documents from when you first had the chip done, you will need to call them and change the address. There is a small charge for this - around £6.To prevent your dog being picked up by the dog warden and having their microchip scanned make sure they have an up to date Dog ID Tag.