The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) supports the permanent identification and registration of all dogs and cats, and other companion animals as appropriate.

The ability to individually identify an animal and trace the owner has the potential to improve animal welfare by enabling:

  • Lost, stray and stolen animals to be returned to their owners more rapidly
  • Owners to be contacted more quickly in the case of injury so that following any emergency treatment further veterinary treatment can be agreed and undertaken promptly
  • Health test results to be correctly attributed to an individual animal
  • Adherence to legislative requirements enabling travel
  • Tracing of animals to their breeder, thereby helping to reduce the problems associated with unregulated breeders and providing accurate information on inherited diseases

Date: February 2024

Background information

Background information on legislative requirements across the UK.


It is a legal requirement to microchip dogs throughout the United Kingdom. It is the responsibility of the dog’s keeper to ensure that the contact details held against their dog’s microchip number are accurate.

In England, Scotland and Wales all dogs must be microchipped by the age of eight weeks.

In Northern Ireland, all dogs must be microchipped at the age of eight weeks and a dog must be microchipped before a licence can be issued. If the registered details are not accurate, in Northern Ireland the dog is not considered as microchipped and the dog licence will not be valid.

Further information is available for each country as follows:




Northern Ireland:


Defra have proposed legislation for compulsory microchipping of cats due to be implemented in June 2024.

Other species

Ferrets travelling abroad / returning to the UK may also be required to be identified.

Other species may also require to be identified.

For animals traded under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) see additional guidance here.


Reviewed by members of BSAVA Scientific Committee (Rachel Casey, Gillian Diesel, Ben Garland, Melanie Hezzell, Jeremy Kirk, Caroline Kisielewicz, Michael Rampersad, Sarah Underhill, James Warland) 2023

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