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                Q and A for Microchipping Alliance

What is a microchip?

A microchip (technically called a Radio Frequency Identification
Device or RFID) is a small electronic device, which is the size of a
grain of rice. The microchip is coded with a unique number that
can be read by a scanner that energises the microchip using a
radio signal. Virtually all microchips sold in the UK now conform to
the same standard and so work with all types of scanner. The
common standard is set by the International Standards
Organisation. The standard numbers are 11784 and 11785.

In the UK the microchip is implanted under the skin between the
shoulder blades. The process is easy and painless and carried out
by a suitably trained person. Once implanted correctly the
microchip is unlikely to fail and so provides lifelong permanent

Who is allowed to chip?

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has stated that the
implantation of a microchip in a dog is not an act of veterinary
surgery as defined in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.
Consequently any person may implant a microchip but it is
essential that they have been properly trained and proven
themselves to be competent. Most veterinary practices in the UK
can microchip a dog or cat, along with a growing number of Local
Authorities and animal welfare groups.

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA)
Microchip Advisory Group (MAG) has a Code of Practice for
microchip distributors that includes a standard for training. MAG
members agree that they will only sell microchips when the
recipient can show that they are competent.

Is there only one type of chip?

There is only one type of microchip sold in the UK for use in dogs
and that is the ISO standard that may also be referred to as FDX-
B. Prior to the ISO standard being agreed there was a
predecessor microchip referred to as FDX-A. The two types of
microchip are entirely incompatible but readers will generally read
the modern ISO standard better than FDX-A. The ISO standard
microchip contains fifteen digits whereas the FDX-A contains only

How are microchips sold?

According to the Microchip Advisory Group Code of Practice:
Microchips must be supplied in PrePacked Sterile (PPS) units
which can be either disposable syringe style or reusable gun
formats. All microchips must pass the performance and
conformance tests to be approved by ISO.
The distributor must not supply chips with a country code in the UK
as there is no database held by the appropriate national authority
(DEFRA) authorised to issue microchip numbers. Microchips with
the prefix “999” may only be used for test purposes and must
never be implanted in an animal. The PPS unit should be provided
in a package, which includes the following:
       Sterilisation indicator
       Expiry date
       Minimum of 3 self-adhesive bar codes advising the unique
         number for distribution to the owner/keeper, the implanter
         and the database.
The delivery container should be batch numbered to ensure full
traceability of chips to a particular implanting agent.

The distributor should have full product liability insurance.

It is suggested but not mandatory that:
        The supplier offers a microchip that minimises the chance
          of migration
        The supplier provide a repurchase facility for agents’
          unused PPS units to ensure their safe disposal

What price are the scanners?

A scanner can cost between £60 - £350

Who retains scanners?

It is estimated that there are currently over 10,000 scanners in use
throughout the UK. These can be found at most veterinary
practices, Local Authorities and animal welfare groups. Local
Authorities and animal welfare groups use scanners to check stray
dogs to see if they have been microchipped. If the dog has been
microchipped he can then be returned to the owner easily and

How many databases are there?

There are currently four databases for microchips implanted in
dogs in the UK:

Petlog 0844 4633 999

Anibase 01904 487 600

Avid 0800 652 9977

Pet Protect

In addition, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) holds all
information related to greyhounds racing on GBGB tracks on a
secure database.

Who can access the database?

A recognised PIN number/password should be provided before
data can be released to either:
a) another database
b) the finder of a lost pet
PIN numbers are issued by microchip distributors and databases
to authorised persons only. Those are local authority staff (usually
dog wardens), veterinary practices and animal welfare charities.

Is there a code of practice for the databases to adhere to?

The Microchip Advisory Group has a code of practice for microchip
distributors and manufacturers. Companies that are currently
signed up are listed on the BSAVA website at
What is required to be included in legislation?

 A summary of the database Code
 All microchips to meet ISO standard
 All dogs to be microchipped and registered prior to any change
  of owner
 Owners to be required to keep the database details up to date
 Legal ownership and responsibility for dog to be vested in
  person registered on the database
 The ability to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for owners not
  complying with the Regulations

Does this need primary legislation?

We do not believe so.

Under what laws can this be enacted?

Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 enables governments
to introduce Regulations to promote welfare of animals and their
progeny. Section 26 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland)
Act 2006 contains a similar provision. We believe that the
appropriate Regulations can be made by governments in England,
Wales and Scotland.

Who would enforce the law?

Police and dog wardens.
Local authorities would need to continue to issue handheld
scanning units to dog wardens (they already have them). In
addition, other local authority and police staff empowered to
enforce the Regulations such as community police support officers,
parkland staff and other members of staff who come into regular
contact with dogs will also require scanners. Dogs found straying
or that come to the attention of the authorities for other reasons
should be scanned, their owner contacted and, where appropriate,
fined. Any authorised officer will need a PIN number to access the
database because of security and data protection rules.

How much would enforcement cost?
The implementation of compulsory microchipping would be
relatively easy for local authorities, requiring no additional
manpower or equipment. At present, authorities are required to
employ a person, usually a dog warden, to deal with strays locally.
These individuals are already equipped with scanners. The ability
to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) should be included in
legislation. In general the income from FPN is retained by the
issuing authority so that the cost of issuing them is covered by the

What are the benefits of chipping?

  •   Easier return of stray dog to its owner
  •   Act as a deterrent to those likely to be irresponsible
  •   Ability to prosecute an owner for cruelty
  •   Savings to LA’s on kennelling fees for dogs not returned to
      their owner
  •   Ability to identify individual dogs for health schemes
  •   Less likely that dogs will be stolen
  •   Ability to trace puppies to bad breeders / puppy farmers
  •   Ability for vets to contact owners of animals for emergency
  •   Ability to serve owners with control orders
  •   Unlike ID tag, doesn’t fall off
  •   Not a dog tax, and far more effective than a licence

How many dogs/cats are chipped?

Over 5 million dogs and cats have been microchipped since it was
introduced in 1989 and there are currently around 8,000 new
registrations per week. Based on existing data it is estimated that
around 2.5 million dogs are currently microchipped.

Have there been any adverse reactions?

MAG collects this information via its Adverse Reactions Reporting
Form. A summary is available on application

How many? What were they?

Only four hundred adverse reaction reports have been initiated
since the reporting system was introduced in 1996. As more than
five million microchips have been implanted in pets since then the
proportion is very small. However there is inevitably a degree of
under-reporting that is difficult to estimate but even so the
proportion of reactions is very small.

On occasions a microchip may move or migrate once implanted.
While this does not affect the functioning of the chip it is reported
as an adverse reaction and these reports account for 57% of
reports. Very rarely does migration affect the welfare of the dog
although it may make the locating of the microchip more difficult if
scanning is not performed properly.

27% of reports are of loss or failure of the microchip. The great
majority occur in the first few months after implantation are
generally the result of poor implantation technique. The number
that actually fail to work is very small and many of those have been
damaged when the dog has been hit for some reason.

Can chips cause cancer?

There have been a very small number of reports of microchips
being found at the site of a tumour. As the number is so small
(only three official reports in the UK) is likely that this is a chance
finding and that the microchip is not implicated.

Is there a central number for reunification?
Not at present, but there is a strong argument for this to be

How much does it cost to chip?

Vets tend to charge approximately £20-£30 (maximum £40) to
microchip. Several animal welfare charities provide a reduced
price microchipping service at their Centres. Local Authority Dog
Wardens or campaign managers may also have information on
local microchip schemes that may be running.

Dogs Trust is currently offering free microchips to local authorities
as a condition of them including microchipping and registration as
a requirement in their social housing tenancy agreements.

How is data held?
Data is held by secure database. The two largest databases
comply with the MAG Code of Practice.

Is data – protected under DPA?

All Database records held by a manufacturer or supplier or their
agents should comply with the Data Protection Act and comply
with the MAG Database Code of Practice.

How much does it cost to change address?

The charge varies between databases but is generally around £5.
Alternative options include an ability to change details as often as
is required for a lifelong fee of less that £20.

Is there any current legislation that insists on chipping?

 The EU pet passport directive
 The Welfare of Racing Greyhounds (England) Regulations 2010
 The Index of Exempted Dogs established uder the Dangerous
  Dogs Act 1991

Do vets routinely scan dogs and cats?

Any dog presented for microchipping should be scanned prior to
implantation. Many vets routinely scan their clients’ dogs. Owners
are strongly advised to have their dog’s microchip scanned before
travelling abroad.

At what age can dogs/cats be chipped?

Puppies tend to be at least 6-8 weeks old before they are
microchipped, however the law should focus on a puppy changing
ownership at any age. To ensure dogs already owned and dogs
being imported are included, any dog over the age of 6 months will
also be required to be microchipped. The reason 6 months is
suggested is that a vet can easily tell if a dog is 6 months or not by
its teeth.

For how many years has chipping been carried out?

Since 1989.
What is the difference between microchips and dog licensing?

They are two different issues. The purpose of microchipping is a
welfare matter to return lost dogs to their owners as quickly as
possible. It is not a form of income for the government; they will
not make any money from compulsory microchipping. Licensing is
effectively a tax on dogs and would be an annual charge for the
whole of the dog’s life. Dogs are part of our families and children
aren’t taxed so why should dogs be? Compulsory microchipping is
a responsible dog ownership and welfare message.

How many EU countries have compulsory microchipping?

         Greece
         Italy
         The Netherlands
         Spain
         Portugal
         Hungary
         Germany
         Croatia
         Austria
         Belgium

Who should register the dog onto the database?

It is unlikely that entry on a microchip database can be conclusive
proof of ownership of a dog. In any event, this is not necessarily a
good indicator of where a dog should be returned to as the owner
may not have actually had physical possession of the dog. Rather
than get embroiled with rights of ownership, the preferred route
would be to focus the responsibility to microchip on the keeper.
This emphasises the welfare benefit (ie. it will achieve the return of
a stray dog to the person who has lost it).

“Keeper” for the purposes of this Regulation can be defined as the
person who has habitual possession of the dog. It shall be
presumed that a person who last had possession of the dog has
habitual possession unless they can prove that their possession is
transitory (such as would be the situation with a dog walker, a vet,
a rescue or boarding kennels) and that someone else has habitual
possession. This would mean that when a dog is re-homed, even
if the previous keeper purports to retain ownership, the new keeper
would have the responsibility to change the details on the data-

What would happen if the database didn’t keep the owners details
up to date/input wrong information?

If a database failed to provide accurate information of the keeper
and as a result the keeper is unable to claim possession of their
dog, regardless of whether there is a direct contract, civil
proceedings may be possible for damages for negligence. The
claimant would have to prove that the database (1) had a duty of
care, and (2) they failed in their duty of care and, as a result, the
Claimant sustained a loss.

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