UK Legal Requirements for Dog Tags

Wednesday, 2 March 2022  |  D for Dog

One question we are often asked at D for Dog is "What should I put on my dog's ID tag?" Dog owners are often unsure whether dog tags or other forms of dog identification are required by law in the UK and what information needs to be engraved on the dog tag. These questions have become even more frequent since required microchipping came into force. Have microchips replaced the need for dog tags? Do you need to put your dog's name on the tag? What should be on a dog tag?

dog tag UK law

So many questions. Let's get these questions answered.

Does my dog need to wear a dog tag?

Yes. The dog tag law UK states that all dogs (with some working dog exemptions - see below) are required to wear a dog identity tag or other form of clear identification by law.

My dog is microchipped so do they still need to wear a dog tag?

Yes, even if your dog is microchipped the UK law states that they must also wear a dog ID tag or other form of clear identification.

What are the UK's legal requirements for a dog's ID tag?

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 mandates that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the owner's name (initial and surname), address and postcode engraved or written on it, or engraved on a dog identity tag.

The best information to put on a dog ID tag

What is legally required on a dog tag? This is actually a two part question. We will cover what needs to be on a dog tag from the perspective of the UK legal requirements and what should also be on a tag to help you get your dog back quicker if the worst should happen.

You are legally required to put your name and address on your dog's tag. A house number and postcode are all that is needed to specify an entire UK address, so it is perfectly acceptable to put just those details and your name. This can be useful for smaller tags where there might not be space for your full address.

This has all the legal aspects covered. By law you simply need the owner's name, address and postcode on the dog tag. However, we would strongly advise also adding at least one contact phone number. Why? Well, the law states that only your address is needed but this is so outdated. If your dog gets lost, is someone going to write you a letter? No. The name and address legal requirements are very outdated now. We all communicate by phone and it is much more instant, which is exactly what is needed. So definitely get your phone number engraved on the tag, even though it is not required by law.

Examples of the engraving information we recommend for dog tags are:

Mr J Bloggs
No 32, PE25 6DH
01366 666666

or

Mr J Bloggs
32 The Street
PE25 6DH
01366 666666

Of course, the phone number you should put on the tag is the one you are most likely to be contactable on. For most people, that would be their mobile phone number.

We also feel it is a good idea, if your dog is microchipped, to state this on the dog tag so that any authorities know to scan your dog. So you could simply add something like "I am chipped" if there is room on the tag for extra engraving.

Should you put the dog's name on the tag?

Some dog owners also add the dog's name to the dog tag while others feel this is best not done in case your dog is stolen or can be called away from you, but the choice on that is entirely up to you. As long as you make sure you have the legally required information on your dog's ID tag you will be on the right side of the law. If you are not sure whether to put your dog's name on the tag, we would advise leaving your dog's name off, unless you can think of a good reason why having your dog's name on the tag would be useful.

What happens if my dog does not wear an ID tag?

You can be fined up to £5,000 if your dog does not wear a dog identification tag or the tag does not have the required information on it.

Does the information need to be on a collar?

The Control of Dogs Order 1992, the law that states that dogs should not be in public places without the owner's name and address information, actually states:

"Every dog while in a highway or in a place of public resort shall wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it."

So yes, technically your contact information should be on or attached to a dog collar. You would have to be stopped by a real jobsworth though if the tag was attached to say the dog's harness for example, and they didn't deem that acceptable. But legally, it should be on the dog's collar.

Is my dog exempt?

Probably not but there are some exemptions.

Dog identification laws do not apply to:

  1. any pack of hounds (by this they mean hunting animals)
  2. any dog while being used for sporting purposes
  3. any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin
  4. any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep
  5. any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Her Majesty's Customs and Excise or the police force for any area
  6. any dog while being used in emergency rescue work
  7. any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

So unless you are covered by any of the above, your dog needs to have your name and address on their collar when out and about in public. And quite frankly, why wouldn't you want to do that. If your dog is lost, this information will hopefully help you to be reunited.

What other information can I put on my dog's tag?

Anything you feel is useful, if there is room. Don't go too OTT with information as you want it to be readable without a magnifying glass, but if your dog has certain special needs or requirements, it can be a really good idea to add this information e.g. I am deaf, I take medication etc...

Keep the information updated

Finally, please remember to keep the information on your dog's tag updated. If you move house or change your stated contact phone number, get your dog a new tag. An out-of-date dog tag is as useless as no tag at all.

Where can I buy attractive and deep engraved dog tags?

Just because it is the law for your dog to wear identification, that doesn't mean your dog's tag can't be fun and stylish, as long as it contains all the required legal information. And you will feel safer knowing your dog can be identified if they go missing.

Of course, here at D for Dog we have a large range of durable and stylish dog ID tags. Engraving is included in the price of all of the tags so you can have fabulous new engraved dog tags delivered straight to your door. Woof!

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