New Law on Microchipping From 2016

As you may be aware, new legislation is coming into force soon that covers the microchipping of dogs in the UK.

This month we decided to take a closer look at the forthcoming change to the law, and answer some common questions we’ve been asked, in order to help you stay within the law*.

The New Microchipping Law in Brief

From the 6th of April 2016 all dogs kept by owners in England must be microchipped, and the microchip itself must be registered with one of the national databases. It will be the dog owner’s duty to keep the contact details on this database accurate and up-to-date.

The law applies to all dogs aged 8 weeks or over, with the only valid exclusions being cases where a veterinarian has recommended against microchipping for health reasons. It such circumstances a letter from your veterinarian stating their opinion should be retained for your records.

What About Those Not In England?

Compulsory dog microchipping has been in force in Northern Ireland since 2012. At present the Scottish government has no immediate plans to implement a similar strategy. It is believed that the Welsh Assembly is planning to implement a similar strategy in Wales, though no formal “go live” date has been announced so far.

What Happens If I Don’t Microchip My Dog In Time?

After April next year local authorities, including the police and dog wardens, should be able to scan any dog found in England and rapidly locate its owners. In cases where dog owners are found either not to have microchipped their dogs, or where the details provided to the database are not accurate, owners will have 21 days to comply with the legislation.

In cases where a period longer than 21 days has elapsed, a fine of up to £500 may be levied.

Do These Rules Just Apply To Dogs?

At present the rules do indeed only apply to dogs. Owners of other pets – such as cats – will not be obliged to microchip their pet under the forthcoming legislation.

How Much Does It Cost To Microchip A Dog?

Microchipping a dog is usually a low-cost process, costing in the region of £20-30. The process normally requires no anaesthetic and takes a matter of minutes. Thereafter you will be provided with paperwork that provides information on the unique number of your dog’s microchip, and where you can register your dog’s microchip.

How Does This Affect Travelling With My Dog?

In reality, most overseas dog travel requires the implant of a microchip for ready identification of dogs. For this reason, dog owners taking their pet abroad are unlikely to be affected by this new legislation.

One handy pointer worth bearing in mind is that there are a number of microchip databases in operation at present. The European Pet Network (EPN) is a network of dozens of databases which all interface with one another, enabling your lost dog to be returned to you from anywhere around Europe.

For dog owners planning to travel abroad with their dog it can therefore be beneficial to ensure that you register with an EPN member database. Doing so provides fuller coverage for you, and greater odds of having your dog returned to you if he or she should get lost.

Please note that we’re not lawyers; this article constitutes our best understanding of the information being produced by the government. If you are in any doubt regarding the forthcoming microchipping legislation we would advise you to contact a qualified vet for professional guidance.