A chip in time

Image courtesy of the British Veterinary Association

From April 6, every dog in England will be required by law to be microchipped.

This change – brought in by the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 – is aimed at improving animal welfare and reducing the burden on animal charities and local authorities who have to deal with lost and stray dogs at a cost to the nation of around £33 million every year, according to the government.

It will be compulsory for every dog over the age of eight weeks to be fitted with a readable chip containing its keeper’s details.

The tiny chip – which is inserted painlessly into the dog’s neck – allows vets and animal welfare charities with a scanner to reunite dogs with their owner much more quickly.

If your dog is not currently chipped, you can take advantage of free microchipping at a number of places, including the Dogs Trust at Shoreham. Check too with your vet as many of them are also participating in the free chipping scheme.

It is your responsibility as a dog owner to get your pet chipped and to keep your contact details up to date.

Failing to do either of those things could result in a £500 fine. So it’s a no brainer really.

Breeders will be responsible for having puppies microchipped, but when you buy a puppy – or any dog for that matter – you must ensure the chip’s contact details are updated as soon as practicable.

Many people are now rehoming dogs from continental Europe – be aware that the law will apply to them, too.

The dog licence was abolished in mainland Britain in 1987, although dog owners in Northern Ireland are still required to buy a licence for their dog. Since then, there has been no formal system of dog registration and animal charities hope compulsory microchipping will encourage more responsible dog ownership.

The RSPCA has more information on microchipping and its benefits.

On a related note, remember that your dog must wear a collar with an ID tag whenever it is walked in a public place. The tag must contain your name, address and postcode.

You could be paying a hefty fine if your dog doesn’t have any ID. The Control of Dogs Order 1992 makes provision for prosecution and a fine of up to £5000.

So it’s a lot cheaper to tag ’em!


As a Scot and a former journalist, I really should have known better to make it much clearer that different laws apply in different parts of the UK! However, while the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 amended the law with regard to dangerous dogs, the provision of the 1992 Act that requires a dog to wear a lead and an ID tag when in a public place still applies in Scotland.

Apologies for any confusion.

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