Microchipping

The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2014

Since 6 April 2016, all dog owners have been required to have their dogs microchipped and registered on an authorised commercial databases. Failure to comply could lead to a £500 fine. As part of this, dog owners are required to register the details of any new owner before they sell or give their dog away. Dog owners also need to keep their contact details up to date on the microchip database.

What you need to know

  • The breeder will be considered the first keeper of their litter of puppies and it is their legal responsibility to get their puppies microchipped and recorded on a database compliant with the new regulations, such as Petlog. The breeder may not record the new owner as the first keeper of a puppy instead of themselves and it will be an offence if they are not listed as the first keeper of their puppies.
  • If the breeder or subsequent keepers of the dog do not update the dog's details on a database, a notice may be served requiring the keeper to microchip the dog within 21 days of the served notice. If this notice is ignored, a fine of up to £500 can be issued or an enforcer can seize the dog and microchip it at the keeper's expense.
  • Microchipping shows who the current keeper of the dog is but this alone is not proof of legal ownership. A microchip relates to the main keeper of the dog i.e. the person the dog lives with and to whom it should be returned if found.
  • Legal ownership of a dog is undefined. In cases where there is a legal dispute over dog ownership, many factors will be considered including perhaps the keeper and KC registered owner of the dog, but also who pays for the dog's upkeep, veterinary treatments etc. and who pays for insurance for the dog for example. Ultimately it will be for a court to decide ownership.
  • If a breeder or subsequent keeper is transferring a dog to a new keeper, they can update the new keeper's details themselves - though if they do not, then it is the new keeper's responsibility to update the details stored on the database. In this instance the breeder/previous keeper must also provide microchipping documents to the new keeper to ensure the new keeper can update their details in order to comply with the law.
  • There is no minimum age specified in the regulations. However, it is advised that microchipping does not take place before the puppy is six weeks old and it is a requirement that the puppy is microchipped and recorded on a database by the time it is eight weeks old. Therefore, between six weeks and eight weeks is the optimum time to get the puppy microchipped, with eight weeks being the legal maximum (unless an exemption applies).

Exemptions

The first exemption is where a veterinarian has certified the dog as a working dog and docked its tail in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In such cases the time limit for the dog to be microchipped and details recorded with a database is extended to 12 weeks. The dog can be passed on to a new keeper once it has been microchipped. This exemption is applicable in England and Wales only, as tail docking is completely banned in Scotland.

The second exemption is where a veterinarian certifies that a dog should not be microchipped because it could adversely affect its health. In such cases a vet would have to certify that this was the case and state when the exemption expired. The dog would then need to be microchipped on the expiry of that time limited certificate unless a veterinarian issued a further exemption certificate because of ongoing concerns with the dog's health. In this case the decision to exempt a dog from being microchipped would be made by the veterinary surgeon. In such a case a breeder may pass the puppy on with a copy of the veterinary exemption certificate and any time limit for microchipping though it would be for the puppy buyer to decide whether to take the dog given this information.

Benefits of microchipping

This is the fastest ticket to getting your dogs back home, safe and sound, where they belong. Microchipping also has a number of welfare benefits, including:

  • ensuring all puppies are traceable to their breeder thereby helping reduce the problem of puppy farming and lessening the incidence of infectious disease and inherited defects from which many of these dogs suffer
  • being a deterrent to dog theft
  • allowing for rapid return, meaning that local authorities are able to emphasise to the dog owners concerned that straying is not acceptable - the intention being that this education will lessen the likelihood of a dog straying again and reinforce the responsibilities of the owners under the Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • making easier the identification and subsequent arrests of owners culpable of animal cruelty
  • enabling veterinary surgeons to contact dog owners for emergency procedures
  • allowing identification of dogs in properties in emergency situations so that dogs and owners can be moved and reunited more quickly

Further information

For further information, please contact Environmental Health:

Last updated on 22/08/2018

Contact the Environmental Health team