Compulsory microchipping

Legislation related to Animal Health and Welfare is devolved within the UK, therefore there are different regulations for different countries of the UK.

The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015, made under section 12 of The Animal Welfare Act 2006, came into effect on 24th February 2015. However, although some of the provisions of the act came into effect in February 2015 the requirement for all dogs over the age of 8 weeks in England to be fitted with a microchip came into effect on 6th April 2016.

The Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015 have now been accepted by the Welsh Assembly Government and came into effect on 25th December 2015. The requirements for compulsory microchipping also came into effect on 6th April 2016.

The Microchipping of Dogs (Scotland) Regulations 2016 came into effect in January 2016 and the requirements for compulsory microchipping also came into effect on 6th April 2016.

Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 requires the microchipping of dogs before a dog licence can be issued. The Act also includes provisions relating to the control of dogs. Further information is available from, which states that all dogs in Northern Ireland must be microchipped at 8 weeks old and that dog owners are responsible for ensuring that the contact details held against their dog’s microchip number are accurate. If the details are not accurate, the dog is not considered as microchipped and the dog licence will not be valid.
Details below and on all pages within the microchipping section refer to the regulations in England – differences in the regulations in the devolved administrations are shown in the following colours:

Northern Ireland

Other legislation that includes requirements for microchipping

Racing Greyhounds

The Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010 (condition 4) requires that a Greyhound only be permitted to enter a race or trial if it is identified by a microchip that:

(a) Has a unique number;
(b) Complies with both ISO standard 11784 and ISO standard 11785 that define the bit content and communication protocol of microchips that adhere to International Standards Organisation standards for microchips
(c) Is registered on a database in relation to which the operator reasonably believes the requirements set out in Part 2 of this Schedule are met.
Pet Travel Regulations

The requirements for both the non-commercial and commercial movements of pet animals susceptible to rabies require that the animal (dog, cat or ferret) is identified by a microchip, and that this should be inserted before rabies vaccination is carried out. Tattoos are only an acceptable method of identification if they were applied before 3rd July 2011 (and are still legible). The most recent amendments to the Pet Travel Regulations,The Non-commercial Movement of Pet Animals (Amendment) Order 2014  and The Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015, introduce the requirement for qualifications for the microchipping of pet animals (see the Implantation page). It should be noted that with respect to pet travel this requirement applies to dogs, cats and ferrets. However, where the animal has been previously microchipped the veterinary surgeon does not have any responsibility to check on the qualifications of the implanter or to implant another microchip.
Tail docking

In England and Wales, Section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to remove the whole or part of a dog’s tail other than for the purpose of medical treatment, subject to the exemption for docking the tails of certain working dogs subject to veterinary certification.

The Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails (England) Regulations 2007  and The Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails (Wales) Regulations 2007 specify the certification requirements for veterinary surgeons docking working dogs’ tails.  The dog must be no older than 5 days when docked and will also need to be microchipped before it is 3 months old. The regulations specifically state the microchip must be implanted by a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse acting under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon and that the veterinary surgeon who carries out or supervises the microchipping must certify that fact in Part 5 of a certificate in the form prescribed in Schedule 2 of the regulation.

Where a puppy is presented to a veterinary surgeon and is already microchipped with a working microchip, a strict legal interpretation of the regulations requires the veterinary surgeon to insert a second microchip in order to be able to sign the certificate in Schedule 2 and for the dog to be identified in accordance with the regulations. We have been informed that Defra recognises that it is not in the best welfare interests of the dog for a second working microchip to be inserted and will explore the scope for amending the regulations at the earliest opportunity.

In the meantime we strongly urge any veterinary surgeon undertaking docking of working dogs’ tails to stress that the breeder must have the puppy microchipped by a veterinary surgeon, or veterinary nurse acting under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon, in order to comply with the legislation. If a second microchip has to be inserted for any reason it is important to make this clear in any documentation.

In Northern Ireland under The Welfare of Animals (Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, the dog must be microchipped by a competent person working in the same practice who must then complete paragraph 2 of a certificate in the form prescribed in the Schedule in respect of that dog.

In Scotland, tail docking may currently only be carried out for therapeutic purposes.
Dangerous Dogs Exemption Scheme

There is also a requirement for microchipping under The Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015 which states that  a dog that is to be exempted from the prohibition in section 1(3) of the (Dangerous Dogs) Act must be implanted with a microchip, unless already microchipped to the satisfaction of the Agency, by a person who:

(a) Is a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon;
(b) Is a student of veterinary surgery or a student veterinary nurse and in either case is acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon; or
(c) Is satisfactorily assessed on a training course approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of implanting microchips.