Microchipping is not only important to identify and protect pets, but also helps promote the responsible ownership, breeding and sale of cats and dogs. To avoid penalties, it’s important that you’re aware of your state’s microchipping regulations.
Whether you’re buying or selling a pet, or you already own one, it’s important to know your microchipping responsibilities. Microchipping is not only a lost pet’s ticket back home, but it also enables ‘traceability’ of breeders and owners. Because microchipping regulations vary greatly between states, we’ve addressed some common questions.
What is microchipping?
A microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice and implanted under the animal’s skin at the nape of the neck. Each microchip has its own individual identification number that can be detected using a microchip scanner. The number is recorded on a microchip database registry with details about the animal and owner. The chip remains under the animal’s skin and acts as permanent identification.
Importantly, if your contact details change (e.g. if you move house or change your phone number) you’ll need to update them on the microchip database registry. The easiest way to find out which database your pet is listed on is to search online via Pet Address. If you can’t find your pet’s registry on Pet Address, contact your vet or microchip implanter. If you’re in NSW, your local council can assist.
If a pet is sold/transferred to a new owner, it’s the new owner’s responsibility to ensure their contact details are recorded on the database.
Is microchipping compulsory?
It is compulsory to microchip cats and dogs in most states. For up to date information on microchipping legislation in your state, check out RSPCA Australia’s guide here. Pet owners, breeders and sellers may face fines if they don’t comply with their state’s laws.
The RSPCA recommends microchipping for all cats and dogs, even if you live in a state that doesn’t require you to microchip your pet by law.
Why have some states introduced compulsory microchipping?
Many lost pets that end up in pounds and rescue centres can’t be identified because they haven’t been microchipped. Many owners can’t be located leading to a large number of unwanted pets, some of which are euthanased. Microchipping helps reunite lost pets with their owners, meaning less animals end up in rescue centres.
Also, compulsory microchipping encourages responsible pet ownership by increasing the accountability of pet owners, breeders and sellers.
Where can I get my pet microchipped?
Only vets, animal welfare organisations and other authorised microchip implanters are permitted to microchip pets. Some local councils offer a microchipping service and sometimes offer ‘free microchipping days’, so it’s worth checking.
When do I need to microchip my pet?
Again, the laws are different depending on which state you live in and whether the animal is a cat or a dog. Check out your state’s requirements.
Regardless of state requirements, the RSPCA recommends that cats and dogs always be microchipped by the breeder prior to you purchasing, transferring or adopting your pet. You should confirm that the breeder/seller is linked to the animal on the microchip database by requesting microchip certification - this is the only way to effectively trace the origin of your pet.
If your pet hasn’t been microchipped yet, it’s never too late. Contact your local vet or authorised microchip implanter to arrange an appointment to microchip your pet.
Should cats be microchipped?
Cats are required to be microchipped by law in some states. Check out the cat legislation in your state. However, as with dogs, RSPCA Australia recommends that all cats are microchipped, regardless of which state you live in.
Transferring pets and ‘free to good home’ pets.
In certain states if you buy or are given a pet, the law requires that the seller must provide the buyer with a microchip certificate. The buyer must then arrange for the transfer of ownership details with the pet registry and their own local council. This applies to ‘free to good home’ pets, too.
If you’re still unsure about your microchipping obligations, you can contact your local council or visit your state government’s website for more information.
Advertising pets for sale – laws specific to Victoria
In an effort to regulate puppy farms and eliminate illegal breeding operations, the Victorian government has made changes to legislation surrounding the breeding and sale of domestic animals.
Microchip details must be included in all dog and cat sale advertisements.
This means that any advertisement placed for a dog or cat for sale in Victoria, either privately or through a business, must include the animal’s microchip number. However, a ‘registered domestic animal business’ may use its Council business registration number as an alternative. A microchip number is not required when the dog or cat is advertised as ‘free to a good home’.
Please visit the Department of Primary Industries here for detailed information on your responsibilities when selling dogs and cats in Victoria.
It’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure they comply with the law, so please ensure you do, or you may risk fines.
Changing regulations for Victorian dog breeders.
Changes to Victorian legislation require registration for all domestic animal businesses. What it means to be a ‘breeding establishment’ has been redefined to be more-encompassing, so an increasing number of breeders must abide by these laws. The Department of Primary Industries has detailed information on the new regulations for Victorian breeders here.