FAQ Compulsory Microchipping in Scotland

Compulsory Microchipping in Scotland

Please note: The following questions and answers are provided for general information only, may not cover every circumstance, and are no substitute for legal advice.

The following only refers to owners, breeders and implanters of dogs in Scotland. From 6th April 2016, all dogs over 8 weeks of age must be microchipped.

We strongly recommend that all dog owners and implanters read the Regulations found here:

Microchipping of Dogs (Scotland) Regulations 2016

What does microchipped mean?

For the purposes of the legislation, a dog is only considered microchipped if it has an FDX-B microchip with a unique 15-digit number, that includes the manufacturer’s code, compliant with ISO protocols 11784/11785 implanted, and the required keeper details are registered to a database deemed compliant by the Scottish Ministers. The petDetect Trovan microchips and Petlog database that we use are fully compliant.

What is the minimum age a puppy has to be before being microchipped?

There is no minimum age specified in the Regulations. Puppies have to be microchipped and registered to a compliant database by the time they are 8 weeks old. We recommend that puppies aren’t implanted any younger than 6 weeks of age but the decision of what age to microchip is down to the implanter. Implanters need to be confident that the puppy is big enough to allow effective and safe restraint, as well as to allow the microchip to be placed accurately in order to minimise the risk of problems such as migration.

I am worried about microchipping very young puppies.

Veterinary surgeons often microchip animals much smaller than dogs and we offer microchips available in two different sizes suitable for your breed. If you still have any concerns about microchipping a dog (e.g. you feel it is too small) speak to your vet. The decision to exempt your dog from being microchipped for reasons of health is at the discretion of a veterinary surgeon and is entirely their decision. petDetect offer Trovan mini microchips, which comply to the same standards as the regular Trovan microchip but are smaller in size, meaning a smaller thinner needle is used for implantation. These may make implanters feel more comfortable implanting puppies of smaller breeds. However, implanters must act within their own confidence and abilities, and should seek veterinary advice before implanting if they have any concerns.

At what age is a dog exempt? 

There are no exemptions with regards to an upper age limit. A dog will only be legally exempt from being microchipped when a veterinary surgeon certifies that it cannot be microchipped for health reasons. This needs to be done on a form approved by the Scottish Ministers. The decision to exempt a dog is at the individual veterinary surgeon's discretion. 

But my dog isn’t well enough to be microchipped, what can I do?

If your dog is examined and found to be unfit for the procedure, a veterinary surgeon can certify this using a form approved by the Scottish Ministers. The form must state for how long the dog is deemed unfit to be microchipped, and the dog must be microchipped before the expiry date stated on the certificate, or have another certificate issued if appropriate. The certificate must also be passed on with the dog if it is sold or rehomed.

What are the main points of the legislation for dog owners and breeders?

         ?All dogs over 8 weeks of age must be microchipped by 6th April 2016.

         ?Any puppy born after this date must be microchipped by 8 weeks of age and registered with the breeder as the first keeper.              

         ?Any dog being imported into Scotland must be microchipped within 30 days.

         ?No dog may be sold or rehomed without being microchipped.

So is microchipping now proof of ownership/keepership?

Even with the introduction of this legislation, microchipping is still not proof of ownership, but it will continue to be powerful supporting evidence. The words 'legally responsible' are used if your dog strays, bites or causes any unjust damage. As the keeper of the dog you are 'liable' for the dog that is registered to you.

Why do I hear the term keeper rather than owner?

The owner of an animal may not necessarily be the person with whom that animal normally resides, meaning that the owner and keeper of a dog can be two different people. Similar to V5 Documentation for registration of a car, the term keeper is used for the purposes of the compulsory microchipping legislation. Therefore, the keeper is the person with whom the dog normally resides - it is this person’s contact details that must be registered alongside the microchip number on the database and is the person referred to for the purposes of the legislation. This is also the person who will be held ‘liable’ for any dogs registered to them.

So who is considered the keeper?

         ?Newborn puppy - The keeper of the bitch that gave birth to it.

         ?Assistance/service dog - The body responsible for its training and allocation, until that dog is retired after which the keeper is the person with whom the dog normally resides.

         ?Any other dog - The person with whom the dog normally resides.

But I have no fixed address, what do I do?

It has been suggested that some charities or a close contact of the person may be able to register as the keeper of the dog in this instance, but further guidance is currently still required.

My dog has been imported - what do I do?

Any dog being imported must be microchipped within 30 days of arrival. All dogs being imported should already be microchipped, however it is important to ensure that the microchip is registered to a compliant database with the required keeper details after arrival. Dogs arriving from outside the UK from the USA may also not be implanted with a compliant microchip, as the USA uses different protocols to the UK. If keepers find their dog's microchip is not compliant, then they must seek advice from the Scottish Department of Agriculture. In most circumstances keepers should elect to have a second compliant microchip inserted and have both microchips registered to a compliant database, as most scanners used in the UK may not be able to read encrypted or non-ISO microchips.

I run a rescue/boarding kennels – do the dogs residing with us need to be transferred into our name whilst they are staying with us?

There may also be some instances where a dog may only be residing somewhere temporarily or longer term, for example rescue centres, boarding kennels or veterinary surgeries. Further guidance is required, but in the case of rescues or dogs boarding long-term at a kennels, it may be sensible that dogs are microchipped and the rescue/kennel is listed as the keeper whilst the dog is under their care. The new keeper should then update their details with the database once the dog has been rehomed.

What happens if the breeder registers the new owner as the first keeper instead of themselves?

The breeder must always be the first registered keeper of the puppies and it will be illegal for the breeder to not be listed as a keeper on the database. The breeder must also provide microchipping documents to the new owner when a puppy is bought to ensure they can update their details in order to comply with the law.

What happens if the puppy I give to the new owner doesn’t match the microchip number?

All breeders must ensure they can clearly identify the correct microchipping paperwork for each puppy being sold to a new owner and that the number of the microchip matches the number on the paperwork.

What do I need to give the new keeper when I sell/rehome a puppy/dog?

The current keeper/breeder must ensure they provide paperwork to the new keeper to enable them to update their details with the database in order to comply with the law. Ideally this should be the confirmation of registration document from the database, as it will contain all the information required for the new keeper to be able to do this. If the current keeper has decided to undertake the transfer of keepership themselves, then they should provide the new keeper with details of the database where the microchip is registered, as well as information on how the new keeper can expect to receive the new confirmation of registration document.

What happens if I don’t have the required paperwork by the time I sell the puppy?

Breeders should be able to provide the new keeper with the confirmation of registration document from the microchip database at the time of sale. As the puppy has to have a compliant microchip implanted, and the required details must be registered onto the database by the time it is 8 weeks of age, breeders need to allow enough time for registrations to be processed before the puppy is sold. For this reason we recommend that breeders choose the online registration option, and that they provide an email address when registering to enable the confirmation document to be sent by email. Use of paper forms and the postal service will result in delays in these documents being sent to breeders. If the breeder has decided to undertake the transfer of keepership themselves, then they should provide the new keeper with details of the database where the microchip is registered, as well as information on how the new keeper can expect to receive the new confirmation of registration document.

As the first keeper, am I liable for my puppies and dogs?

Yes, whilst the dog is still in your keepership. As soon as the dog is with a new keeper they become liable. Once you sell the puppy or dog the keeper details must be updated on the database. This should be updated either by yourself or the new keeper - under the Regulations it is ultimately the new keeper's responsibility to do this.

You are likely to be held responsible for any dog registered to you on a microchip database if the dog has been found to have strayed, bitten or caused any unjust damage (there are some exceptions in instances where you were not in charge of the dog at the time of the incident). There is also protection from prosecution within the law if a dog injures a burglar or trespasser on their land.

What happens if I don’t comply as a breeder?

If a breeder breaches the legislation, they may be liable for a fine.

Does it cost extra to register the microchip on a national database?

All petDetect Trovan microchips that are sold include the cost for initial basic lifetime registration onto the Petlog database. Currently, these registrations can be made by the implanter either online (recommended) or using paper forms that are posted to Petlog. Once this initial registration has taken place, there are no extra fees payable unless you need to update keeper details, or change keepership.

Does it cost money to register a transfer of keepership or update my contact details?

Yes. Petlog currently charge £16 but this includes the cost of updating details or the transfer of keepership and upgrades you to the Petlog Premium service. Once you have upgraded to Petlog Premium, there are no further costs to pay to update keeper details for the lifetime of the dog whilst it is in your care.

I’m a breeder and am worried that either myself, or the owners I sell my puppies to, are going to have to pay double for registrations.

Under the legislation, once a puppy has been microchipped and registered with the breeder as the first keeper, it is actually the responsibility of the new keeper to update their details with the database once the puppy has been sold or rehomed. However, some breeders may choose to undertake this transfer of keepership themselves.

If keepers are buying a puppy that has been registered with the UK Kennel Club, then the transfer of keepership with Petlog, including a free upgrade to Petlog Premium, will be linked to the transfer of ownership on the Kennel Club Pedigree Register. From 6th April 2016 new keepers of Kennel Club registered puppies will only have to pay one fee to arrange for the transfer of keepership with both the Kennel Club Register and Petlog to be completed. Breeders must ensure they provide the new keeper with all the relevant paperwork to allow them to arrange for this to be done, or breeders may arrange for the transfer of keepership to be completed. Once this has been done, the new keeper will have Petlog Premium membership, which, amongst many other benefits, will allow them to update their contact details free of charge for as long as the dog is in their care.

What about breeders who breed puppies that are not registered with the UK Kennel Club?

The breeder must still be able to provide paperwork to the new keeper to allow them to update their details with the database, or breeders can still choose to update the details themselves. There will be a fee to do this, which will include an upgrade to Petlog Premium to allow for any further updates in contact details to be made free of charge.

How can I update my contact details?

Keepers can either do this online, or by phone with Petlog. To update details online keepers will need their confirmation of registration document, as it will contain the microchip number, as well as the information required to log-in to the Petlog website.

Transfers of keepership were traditionally completed by completing and posting a section of the confirmation of registration document. However, from April 2016, Petlog will be allowing these transfers of keepership to be completed securely online.

What information needs to be recorded to the database?

The legislation stipulates the minimum information that must be recorded on the database alongside the unique 15-digit microchip number, this includes:

         ?Original name or ID number of the dog and if applicable any changes to the original name or ID number.

         ?Full keeper name and address, as well as contact details such as phone numbers and email if available. If applicable, the fact that the keeper is also the breeder of the dog.

         ?Breeder license number, and the local authority responsible for issuing that license (if applicable).

         ?Details of the dog, including date of birth, sex, breed description, colour description, and any distinguishing features.

What do I need to do as an owner/keeper before 6th April 2016?

         ?Ensure that your dog is microchipped! It must have a compliant microchip implanted and registered with the required keeper details to a compliant database.

         ?If your dog is already microchipped, then please check that the microchip complies with the required standards - some microchips in imported dogs may not be compliant.

         ?Check that the keeper contact details and your dog’s details are up to date and registered to a compliant database.

         ?If the keeper's contact details change at any point, or the dog is transferred to a new keeper then keepers MUST update the database.

Remember that for a database to be compliant, they have to meet the minimum standards set out in the legislation. Most of the major databases in the UK are already compliant but it is best to contact your database to check.

Are petDetect Trovan microchips and Petlog compliant?

Yes. The Trovan microchips sold by petDetect, and the database we use, Petlog, are compliant for the purposes of the compulsory dog microchipping legislation.

I’m a breeder or I’ve sold/rehomed a dog what do I do?

From 6th April 2016, no dog may be sold unless it is microchipped (remember the current keeper details have to be registered to a compliant database before it is considered microchipped). This means breeders will have to register puppies with the keeper of the dam that gave birth to the puppy registered as the first keeper and ensure this is done before the puppy is sold, even if it is sold before 8 weeks of age.

From this date you cannot sell or rehome a dog unless it is microchipped; and it is the responsibility of the new keeper to update the keeper details with the database. If the dog’s name has been changed, the database must also be notified.

Don’t microchips move as a puppy grows?

Migration of the microchip does happen but it is rare. Most microchips migrate because they weren’t implanted in the correct location in the first instance. Correct placement of a microchip between the shoulder blades ensures migration does not occur.

Don’t microchips sometimes fail?

This can happen but it is an extremely rare occurrence. Millions of animals are microchipped worldwide and documented incidences of microchip failure remain very low. petDetect Trovan microchips are manufactured to a very high standard and are used by zoos in very long-lived species due to their proven reliability and longevity.

Is it legal to microchip my own puppies?  If so, where can I learn?

As part of the Regulations if you are not a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse, student veterinary surgeon or a student veterinary nurse acting under guidance of a veterinary surgeon, and you want to train to implant microchips in dogs after 29th January 2016 you must be trained on a course that has received approval by the Scottish Ministers. Any person that has already received training on implanting microchips before 29th January 2016 will be exempt from this as long as their training included practical experience of implanting a microchip, however, they may be asked to provide proof of training.

There is an issue for people trained between 30th Dec 2014 and 29th January 2016, these people are recommended to contact their training organisation.

I am already an implanter, what does the legislation mean for me?

From 29th January 2016 the legislation stipulates who may implant microchips in dogs. Veterinary surgeons, or registered veterinary nurses and student veterinary surgeons/nurses acting under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon may continue to implant microchips. Anyone who received training that included practical experience of implanting a microchip prior to 29th January 2016 can also continue to implant microchips in dogs with grandfather rights. However, lay persons wishing to train to implant microchips in dogs on or after 29th January 2016 must have attended a training course approved by the Scottish Ministers for that purpose.

Authorised persons can stop implanters from implanting if the Scottish Ministers deem that they aren’t completing the procedure to a satisfactory standard. The Scottish Ministers can ban implanters permanently, or stipulate that they must complete a training course approved by the Scottish Ministers before they can resume implanting again.

Anyone found implanting microchips in dogs that don’t fall into any of the above categories is committing a prosecutable offence.

Do I have to report adverse reactions to microchips in dogs?

Yes. Under the legislation anyone who identifies an adverse event in relation to a microchip implanted in a dog must report it to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate within 21 days. An adverse reaction is classed as migration of a microchip from the original implantation site, any pain, suffering or pathology arising from the implantation of a microchip and failure of a microchip. Failure of a microchip is defined as failure of the microchip to transmit the encoded number when scanned with an appropriate transceiver (scanner).

Failure to report an adverse event is an offence liable for a fine.

What happens if I am found to be implanting microchips illegally?

Anyone found implanting microchips in dogs without complying with the legislation may face a fine.

Is there a fine/penalty if I don’t get my dog microchipped?  

Yes. If you do not get your dog microchipped or your details aren't registered and up to date on a compliant database, then it will be considered as not complying with the Regulations and a notice may be served. If the keeper does not microchip their dog within 21 days of the served notice, then they may face a fine, or an authorised person may take the dog to be microchipped and claim back the costs of doing so from the keeper.

Is there a fine/penalty if I don’t keep my contact details up to date?

Yes, failure to keep your details up to date is classed as not getting a dog microchipped and you will be served a notice. If the keeper does not get their details updated within 21 days of the served notice, then they may face a fine, or an authorised person contact the database to get the details updated and claim back the costs of doing so from the keeper.

Will compulsory microchipping for dogs be government controlled?

The Microchipping of Dogs (Scotland) Regulations 2016 will be enforced by local authorities, police constables, community support officers and any other person which the Scottish Ministers may authorise to act as an enforcer of the Regulations.

I am a vet/rescue/dog warden, is scanning of dogs for microchips compulsory?

Under the new legislation there is no legal requirement for dogs to be scanned for microchips. However, many bodies, including the British Veterinary Association promote it as best practice. We recommend scanning all species of animals for a microchip as a matter of routine.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has issued guidelines on what vets should do in cases of keepership disputes. Vets are not expected to police the legislation due to problems with breaching client confidentiality. However, vets and implanters will play an important role in educating owners about their responsibilities and promoting the benefits of microchipping to their clients.

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