In the United Kingdom it is the law to have your dog microchipped and wear an identification tag when in a public space. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £5,000.
There has been some confusion with owners about whether dog tags are still required since the 2016 microchipping law came into force. The answer is: you need both.
Below we will outline the requirements owners need to follow in more detail.
On 1st April 1992, the UK passed a law named The Control of Dogs Order 1992. The law made it a requirement that any dog ‘while in a highway or in a place of public resort’ must wear a collar tag that displays:
- Name of the owner (initial and surname)
- An up-to-date address of the owner (house number and postcode)
It is not a requirement to include a phone number, but this is recommended in case your dog gets lost.
Example:J Bloggs 59, EN66 3DD
Or a more detailed version:Mr Joe Bloggs 59 Pond Rd. Camden EN66 3DD 0208 888 8888
It is not a requirement to include your dog’s name on ID tags.
The Kennel Club have put together a visual guide of the formatting:
1992 Law Exemptions
The Control of Dogs Order does state seven exemptions to the law:
- any pack of hounds (hunting animals)
- any dog while being used for sporting purposes
- any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin
- any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep
- any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise or the police force for any area
- any dog while being used in emergency rescue work
- any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
The enforcement of the law is not carried out by the police force in any area but by ‘the officers of a local authority’.
The vast majority of pet owners will not qualify for exemption, and if you are unsure if you do qualify for exemption it is highly recommended that you always display ID tags on all of your dogs in a public area to be on the safe side.
As the law is enforced by local authorities, you should seek further information from your local council.
On April 6th 2016 it became law that dogs in the UK must have a microchip that contains information about the owner, the dog and the breeder (if applicable). If your dog is not microchipped, you can be fined up £500.
The law applies to all dogs of any age but vets recommend that microchipping does not take place on puppies under six weeks old. However, owners can be issued the £500 fine if a dog is over eight weeks old and is not chipped. Due to this short two week window, most vets would chip puppies during their second set of vaccinations (which usually occur at 8 weeks old).
Information Included on the Microchip
Unlike ID tags, microchips allow for more detailed information about the dog and the owner, including:
- Breeder's licence number and the local authority which they are licensed to (if relevant)
- Dog’s name given by the breeder (if relevant)
- 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 to by the owner
- A unique microchip number
Owner’s are responsible for keeping this information up to date and failure to do so may result in a fine.
Getting Your Dog Chipped
If your dog has not already been microchipped it can cost you between £10 and £20. Many veterinary practices can provide the implant or you can find a local implanter.
There are also charities that can chip dogs for free, such as Chip My Dog.
Checking the Chip’s Information
There is not one single database dog’s are registered on. If you are unsure which database your dog is on, you can use check-a-chip.co.uk
If you are unsure if your dog has been microchipped, you can often feel a small, rice sized pellet under the loose skin of the neck and between the shoulder blades. However, it is recommended that your vet checks this for you as they will be able to scan the chip’s details and provide you with further information.
2016 Law Exemptions
There are no exemptions from getting a dog chipped. Only a trained veterinarian can conclude that a dog’s health is preventing it from be implanted. However, a vet can make arrangements for implanting once the dog has restored its health.
Working dogs (such as guide dogs and rescue dogs), hunting dogs or sports dogs are also not exempted from being chipped.
If a dog has been found without a microchip the owner can face criminal prosecution and be fined £500 if they do not comply with the chipping order within 21 days. If an owner fails to comply an enforcer can seize the dog and chip it at the owner’s expense.
Failure to update personal information (such as provide an up-to-date address) can also result in a fine.
Unlike ID tags where only local authorities can enforce the law, the April 2016 microchipping law can be enforced by ‘local authorities, police constables, community support officers and any other person which the Secretary of State may authorise to act as an enforcer of the regulations.’