Identification & Registration (I&R)
How does identification & registration of companion animals work in the EU?
Identification (microchipping) is the process of marking an animal using an electronic transponder implant. Registration is the process of listing in a database the identification data of the transponder, together with the ownership information of the animal.
The electronic transponder implant employs passive Radio Frequency Identification Technology (‘RFID’) and can transmit the identification data encoded in it once powered by the radio-waves of a scanner.
State of play
The Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429) constitutes the legal basis for I&R of cats and dogs at EU level, more concretely, to record a mandatory minimum level of information and the exchange of data between animal databases.
EU law requires identification of animals that cross country borders. This is necessary because when crossing borders, national authorities need to be able to match the information on the microchip with the information in the accompanying documents that include the vaccination status of the animal. Registration remains a Member State competence.
However, if an animal stays within one country, identification and registration of cats and dogs is not mandatory under EU law and is therefore a Member State matter. This means that different EU Member States have different legislation about identification & registration of cats and dogs. Further, without harmonized EU legislation and a common system, several national, regional, public, and private animal databases across the EU exist. Private initiatives, such as the Europetnet index registry are trying to bridge the gap, facilitate availability of identification information on animals and track animals back to the owners.
The current EU framework allows the movement of cats and dogs without securing that the data about their origin, health, identification, and ownership is reliably recorded. Consequently, there is no safe way to verify if a microchipped animal is vaccinated. Further, the pet passport is a document that can be easily replaced. As microchipping is not linked to the passport in any solid way it cannot guarantee accuracy of the origin, breeder, vet and vaccination records it holds. Further, it is impossible to trace back and hold accountable a breeder from a country where registration is not mandatory or where the database is not connected to a European index registry. Ergo, the existing system benefits illegal trade and animal suffering.
CARO believes that every dog and cat must be identified, and their identification and ownership data need to be registered in databases. These databases must be harmonized, compatible and accessible in all EU Member States with a system of intercommunication for data sharing in place. Such a harmonized system would not only have a positive effect on population management, but also on public health, consumer protection, and market regulation. Several Member States, including of the Voluntary Initiative Subgroup on the Health and Welfare of Pets (dogs) in Trade operating under the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, see value in harmonizing I&R across the EU, including for public health, consumer protection, market regulation and population management reasons.