The microchipping of dogs in England, Scotland and Wales becomes mandatory on 6th April 2016. Compulsory legislation has been in force in N. Ireland since 2012. Dog owners will have a legal obligation to have dogs microchipped and registered with a database. No transfer of a dog to a new keeper may take place until it has been microchipped.

Subject to an exemption for certified working dogs (which is not applicable in Scotland), all dogs older than eight weeks must be microchipped and registered with keepers details. It’s the responsibility of the keeper to keep all registered details up to date, including transfer of ownership.

Careful consultation is required to ascertain the details to be recorded on the database. The data requirement may differ between areas in of the UK.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has produced new guidance for both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses on the compulsory microchipping regulations for dogs. The separate regulations for England, Scotland and Wales all oblige keepers of dogs to microchip animals over the age of eight weeks.

Each set of regulations includes a ‘health’ exemption from the general obligation to microchip, stipulations as to who can implant microchips in dogs, an obligation to report adverse reactions to microchipping and details of various offences in relation to the regulations.

It’s advisable for owners of licensed boarding premises to familiarise themselves with the regulations applicable in their part of the UK. Each national regulation has slightly different stipulations with regard to data requirements and the wording of health exemptions.

The RCVS Standard Committee has issued the following statement: “We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the  that, after 6 April 2016, a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse who discovers that a dog has not been microchipped will not be obliged to report this to the authorities. However, they may wish to advise the dog owner of the new regulations and encourage them to comply.”



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Are you mystified by microchipping?

by ALIKC Chair, Greg Warman

Under the regulations introduced in England, Wales and Scotland in April 2016, a dog is considered microchipped when it has been implanted with a chip and its details registered on an approved database. If any keeper of a registered dog subsequently moves address or contact details change, the dog is no longer considered microchipped under the regulations. In this event, enforcement action can be taken and a notice served, potentially 21 days notice followed by a £500 fine.

Key points

  • The legislation has been in force in Northern Ireland since 2012
  • The legislation became mandatory in England, Wales and Scotland on 1st April 2016
  • Microchipping regulations may be enforced by local authorities, police constables, community support officers and any other person authorised by the Secretary of State to act as an enforcer of the regulations
  • All dogs must be microchipped and registered on an approved database by the age of 8 weeks
  • Any new or change of keeper must record their details and changes to the dog’s name on the appropriate database


In certain circumstances, one of the following two exemptions may apply:

  1. A veterinary surgeon has certified the dog as a working dog (England and Wales only). In this instance, the time limit for the dog to be microchipped and details recorded with a database increases to 12 weeks
  2. A veterinary surgeon certifies that a dog should not be microchipped because it would adversely affect its health. In Wales,  this exemption requires certification that microchipping would significantly comprise the dog’s health.

Who can microchip a dog in England?

  1. A veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon
  2. A student of veterinary surgery or a student veterinary nurse, in both cases acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon
  3. Anyone who has been satisfactorily assessed on a training course approved by the Secretary of State for that purpose
  4. Anyone that has received implantation training prior to the regulations coming into force,  and which included practical experience of implanting a microchip.

* approving authorities

England: DEFRA – England Secretary of State

Wales: Welsh Government approval

Offences & Penalties

For the operator of the Database

  • Failure to comply with a notice serviced on an operator under regulation 7 is punishable on conviction with a fine of up to £2,500

For the keeper of the dog

  • Failure to microchip and record relevant details before transferring to a new keeper will attract a fine of up to £500.
  • Failure to comply with a notice (21 days) to properly microchip a dog can incur a fine of up to £500.
  • In the event of non-compliance with notice to microchip and record details or should an authorised person arranging for the dog to be microchipped be obstructed, these offences are punishable with a fine of up to £500.
  • Any person obstructing an authorised person from taking possession of a dog to check if it is microchipped or obstructing a person arranging for a dog to be microchipped could face a fine of £500.
  • In Scotland only – it is also an offence for a keeper of a dog to notify to a database operator any details knowing them to be false in a ‘Material particular’.

For microchip implanters 

  • Implantation of a microchip by anyone not authorised to do so, is punishable on conviction by a fine of up to £500.
  • Implanting microchips in contravention of a notice not to do so until further training is received is punishable on conviction by a fine of up to £500.

Adverse Reactions

It’s a legal requirement in England, Scotland and Wales to report adverse reactions/events relating to microchips and microchip failure in dogs.

An adverse reaction is defined in the regulations as a microchip that causes any unnecessary pain or suffering or any pathology that is or seems to be caused by the implantation of a microchip, or a microchip that has migrated from the implantation site or failed.

The regulation only applies to dogs but it would be good practice to report adverse reactions to microchips in other species as well.

Adverse reactions or events must be reported to Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) by using either an online reporting form or by post.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has now included in the supporting guidance to the Code of Professional Conduct that veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses should report any adverse reaction to a microchip or the failure of a microchip to the VMD.

What’s an adverse reaction?

Implantation Reactions 

These occur relatively soon after implantation and are commonly linked to the implantation procedure e.g. Haematomas or infection making the animal ill. An inflammatory response along with any evidence of infection or other pathology should be reported as adverse events. There are a very small number of reports of paralysis resulting from implantation into the spinal cord. Although these relate to problems with the implantation technique rather than a problem with the mirochip, these should also be reported.

Small number of cancers have been reported around the site of microchip implantation. Although these may not be related to the implantation, they should still be reported to allow the VMD to collect accurate data.

Microchip Migration 

Migration from the site of implantation is now classed as an adverse event. This enables the detection of microchip brand or batch problems or implanter technique issues. There’s no requirement to record the site of microchip implantation on the animal’s record or microchip database, therefore actual migration is difficult to ascertain.

The BSAVA image indicates the recommended UK and European sites for implantation. This allows for minor implantation positioning errors that don’t have to be reported as having migrated.


Microchip failure 

The whole animal should be scanned and re-scanned in case the microchip has moved from the implantation site or it has been implanted in a different part of the dog. The most common reason for failing to detect an implanted microchip is migration out of the animal soon after implantation.

The veterinary surgeon is only expected to report microchip failure if they have evidence that a microchip has been present e.g. registration document or patient record that provides details of a microchip number.

An animal with a failed microchip will require implantation of a new microchip (unless it’s exempt). Details of the reason for re-implantation should be recorded and, where appropriate, a written declaration provided to the owner with information about the old and new microchip.

Intermittent working of microchips 

If the microchip has not failed completely, DEFRA recommends the insertion of a new microchip to mitigate against the existing microchip failing in the future. It’s not necessary to remove a failed microchip unless associated with any pathology.


dog_reading  Further information:

The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015

The Microchipping of Dogs (Scotland) Regulations 2016

The Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015