Dog microchipping law: What you need to know about the new compulsory rules

Ronny Lavie By Ronny Lavie

Are you prepared for the law that means all dogs in England will have to be microchipped by April 6, 2016?

We have compiled a guide for dog owners, to tell you all you need to know about the Microchipping of Dogs Act (England) Regulations and how they apply to you.

What is the Microchipping of Dogs Act?

It is an act passed by the government that says all dogs must be implanted with a microchip loaded with information about them (such as breed, sex, colour etc.) and their keepers’ details by April 6th. Puppies must be microchipped and registered with a database by the time they are 8 weeks old.

If an owner fails to microchip their pet they will be given 21 days to do so, after which they can face a fine.

Scotland will also be introducing microchipping laws in April. Similar rules in Wales came into effect in March and Northern Ireland has had compulsory microchipping since 2012.

Is the microchip proof of ownership?

No, the microchip contains information about the dog's ‘keeper’. Being the dog’s keeper means you are legally responsible for it, and therefore liable if it causes damage.

Why am I being forced to microchip my dog?

As far as the government is concerned, the main purpose is to hold people accountable if their dog causes damage to a person, property or another animal. It will also save councils money, by potentially reducing the number of stray dogs on the street.

However, microchipping your dog is recommended by many organisations and can be beneficial to keepers, especially in helping them find lost pets.

A Dogs Trust survey from 2014 revealed that technologies like microchipping helped to reunite more than 10,000 dogs with their owners, and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home reported they reunited 542 lost dogs with their owners in 2015 using microchipping technology.

And dog theft increased 14% year on year, according to Pet Theft Awareness Week, which was held in March.

Despite these statistics, vets charity PDSA revealed at the end of last year that approximately 1 in 6 dogs in the UK is not microchipped. The new legislation will mean it will be far easier to trace your dog should it be lost or stolen.

Will it impact my pet insurance?

Before the new laws were introduced many pet insurers would still ask whether a dog had a microchip. In fact, some policies are cheaper if your dog has a microchip because it means there is a better chance of finding your dog if it lost, so an insurer is less likely to have to pay out if you can't find it.

It is even more essential to microchip your dog now because if you don't comply with the law you could invalidate you policy. And if you're thinking about taking out a policy it is likely that insurers will require the dog to have a microchip and for your details to be up to date.

It is important to make sure your details on the microchip are up to date and match the information on your insurance policy. If you adopt a rescue dog don't forget to check if it already has a chip and to add your details to it.

Pet insurance will not cover the cost of getting a microchip fitted. Although as you will see below it is very cheap, and often free.

For a full guide to dog insurance, have a look at our article on the best dog insurance 2016.

At Bought By Many we believe that all pet owner deserver fairer and cheaper insurance. We have created a group for pet owners to join so that we can negotiate members exclusive deals, you can join our pet insurance group to receive a 20% discount on a policy.

What happens if I fail to microchip my dog by April 6?

If your dog is found to not be microchipped after April 6 you will get a notice that you must comply with the new regulations. You will then have 21 days to microchip your dog. Failure to do this means you could face fines of up to £500.

The same penalty applies for failing to update the detail on the dog’s microchip (in case you move or your contact details change).

How much does microchipping cost?

Microchipping is a quick and simple procedure that can cost as little as £10. For exact rates, check with your local vet.

With so many people now needing to microchip their dog it's likely that pet businesses other than vets will start offering it. Dog groomers, walkers and pet sitters can all be registered to microchip animals. If you run a pet business you can access our exclusive insurance offer by joining our group.

If you think you will struggle to pay to get your dog microchipped, talk to Dogs Trust or your local shelter or animal charity – since the law was announced in 2013, some have been offering the service free of charge to those who need it.

I have an older dog, is it exempt?

No, there is no upper age limit on microchipping a dog.

However, if your vet has confirmed that your dog has a health condition that prevents it from being implanted with a microchip an exemption can be made. If your dog had been implanted but develops an adverse reaction to the microchip it can also lead to an exemption.

Mini microchips are available for smaller dogs.

Getting affordable insurance for an older animals can be tough, so we’ve compiled a list of 8 companies that offer cheap insurance for older dogs.

If your dog has medical conditions you can save money on their insurance by joining our pre-existing medical conditions pet insurance group.

I’m a breeder, how do these regulations apply to me?

Breeders must microchip all their puppies by the time they are 8 weeks old. It then becomes the responsibility of the adopting keeper to update their details on the database.

Club together with other breeders and pet business owners to save money on your insurance by joining our pet business insurance group.

I have a working dog, does it need to be microchipped?

Yes, but the time limit for a puppy to be microchipped and registered to a database is 12 weeks, rather than 8. This only applies to dogs that have been certified as working dogs by a vet and had their tails docked in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Learn more about insuring working dogs here.

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