Microchipping of dogs and cats

Microchipping not only identifies your pet for life, but it can save your pet's life.

All cats and dogs must be microchipped before registration with council for the first time.

While horses do not have to be registered with council, if they are being implanted with a microchip, the microchip must be recorded on a Victorian licensed registry.

Microchips

A microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice, which has an identification number programmed into it.

The microchip:

  • is inert
  • has no battery
  • uses no energy
  • lasts for the life of an animal.

The microchip is injected under the animal's skin between the shoulder blades (or into the nuchal ligament for horses). It is a simple procedure when performed by qualified implanters.

To identify the animal, a scanner that reads microchip numbers is passed over the animal's skin. The scanned number can then be checked against a register, which has details of the animal's ownership.

Click here for more information about permanent identification technology.

Benefits of microchipping

A microchip provides a permanent form of identification which can quickly reunite owners with lost or injured pets.

This could literally save your pet's life — sadly, many pets that end up in pounds and shelters are not identified and have to be euthanased because their owners cannot be located.

Microchips cannot be removed or fall off like a traditional collar and tag.

Compulsory microchipping

All cats and dogs being registered with a Victorian local council for the first time must be microchipped before registration. You can be fined if you do not comply. Councils also have the power to require compulsory microchipping of all cats and dogs housed in their municipality.

You should check what is required in your area with your local council.

All cats and dogs aged 3 months and over must be registered with the local council.

Laws requiring microchipping of restricted breed dogs, and declared menacing or dangerous dogs are already in place.

It is a requirement to microchip all cats and dogs before they are sold or given away in Victoria. This includes from:

  • pet shops
  • pet breeders (even when the litter is accidental)
  • pounds
  • shelters.

In the unusual event that implantation of a microchip is likely to significantly prejudice the health of an animal — a supporting letter from a vet will exempt the owner from microchipping requirements.

Reasons for compulsory microchipping

Tragically, thousands of impounded cats and dogs are euthanased each year in Victoria, because they can't be identified and returned to owners. Compulsory microchipping will benefit animal welfare by helping prevent the needless destruction of so many animals.

Compulsory microchipping can also encourage responsible pet ownership, by:

  • identifying owners of dangerous or nuisance animals
  • increasing owner accountability.

If a pet is injured a microchip enables the vet to quickly identify the owner and contact them so the owner can make decisions on the animal's treatment.

Research has shown that a majority of the general public and animal welfare groups support compulsory microchipping of cats and dogs.

How to have your pet microchipped

Only authorised implanters, such as registered vets or authorised implanters who have completed the required training can implant microchips.

Implanters are required to scan an animal before implantation to ensure it is not already microchipped. A second microchip cannot be implanted unless the:

  • original microchip is not working
  • ID number does not uniquely identify the animal
  • microchip has migrated out of the scanning region.

Owners can have their pets microchipped at a vet clinic, or at a local council microchip day (contact your local council for details on upcoming events).

The cost of microchipping will generally be recovered within the first few years, if the owner had previously been paying full registration fees (due to the discount for microchipped pets).

Owners can be confident they will get their pet back if it is lost and ends up in the council pound or injured and at a vet clinic.

Further information on microchips

Owners of newly microchipped animals will receive a certificate of identification from the licensed registry where information is kept. It is important to check the information on the certificate and make sure it is accurate.

Domestic animal (microchip) registries hold the records for cats, dogs and horses microchipped in Victoria. Registries must comply with quality standards and be licensed with the department.

If your residential or contact details change in the future, it is vital that you update the information on the microchip registry.

There are a number of requirements in place to maximise the effectiveness of microchipping in returning identified lost pets to owners.

Within 3 days of entering a pound or shelter, it is a requirement that cats and dogs are scanned to find out if they are microchipped.

Information on the microchip registry can only be accessed:

  • by the authorised implanter
  • by the owner of the animal
  • by certain authorised government employees
  • only if the owner has given consent.

Microchipping information

Contact your local council or vet for more information about microchipping.

Contact your local council if you have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a pet owner. Your council also deals with concerns about wandering or nuisance pets.

More information

For more information about microchipping visit:

For general information about responsible pet ownership, visit our Animal welfare section or call 136 186.

Page last updated: 13 Jul 2020