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Pet Registration (NSW)

As cats and dogs are the most common household pets, this article examines the pet registration requirements for these two companion animals only. Any other pet, especially exotic animals, may be subject to different legislative requirements, and it is advised that any prospective owners make themselves aware of the specific requirements related to their pet.

In New South Wales the Companion Animals Act 1998 is the Act governing the registration requirements of cats and dogs.


Unless your cat or dog is exempt from pet registration, all cats and dogs in NSW must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age, or before being sold or given away, whichever happens first.

Failing to microchip your pet could result in a fixed penalty notice of $180. If your dog is restricted or declared dangerous, the fixed penalty amount is $880.00. These are penalties imposed by the council and sent out as an infringement notice.

The amounts can increase significantly should the matter be determined by a court. The maximum penalty that a court can impose is $880.00, or $5,500 for restricted or dangerous pets.

Who must be registered?

Unless your cat or dog is exempt from pet registration, all cats and dogs must be registered by 6 months of age. A fee is payable upon registration and, upon payment, the pet is registered for life. If your pet is an ‘Assistance Animal’ no registration fee is payable.

Failing to register your pet could result in a fixed penalty notice of $330. Should the matter be determined by the court, the maximum penalty is $5,500, or $6,500 if your dog is restricted or declared dangerous.

Which animals are exempt?

The following animals are exempt from pet registration in NSW:

  • Any cat born prior to 1 July 1999 whose ownership has not changed;
  • Any dog used for tending stock on a rural property;
  • Any greyhound which is registered under the Greyhound Racing Act 2009.

Your local council should be contacted to confirm an animal’s eligibility for exemption,.

How do I register my pet?

There are two ways to arrange pet registration in NSW: online or over the counter at your local Council.

Service NSW has also been added as a pet registration agent to give owners an alternative method to register their pets.

Do I have to pay a pet registration fee?

As from 1 July 2018, there are no registration fees payable for the following pets:

  • Working dog;
  • Cats born prior to 1 July 1999 where ownership has not changed;
  • Assistance Animals;
  • Dogs in the service of the state (e.g. Police dogs etc); and
  • Greyhounds registered under the Greyhound Racing Act 2009.

If you move to NSW, do you need to register and microchip your pet again?

  • If you move to NSW, you have three months to identify and register your cat or dog with your local council.
  • If you are from interstate, and plan on being in NSW for a period longer than three months, you must also microchip and register your pet with the local council.
  • Further, any cats or dogs that are imported must meet Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service import conditions.

Can the council microchip and register my pet?

Any cat or dog that is taken into the custody of the council must be registered and microchipped before it can be returned to its owner. This is the case even if the animal is less than 6 months of age, or otherwise exempt from pet registration laws.

What changes do I have to report?

Under Section 11 of the Companion Animals Act, owners of cats and dogs have an obligation to report the following:

  • any change that occurs in the pet registration information or identification information for the animal (notification must be given within 14 days after the change occurs),
  • the making or revocation of a declaration by a court under Part 5 that the animal (being a dog) is a dangerous dog or a menacing dog (notification must be given within 7 days after the declaration is made or revoked),
  • the animal dies (notification must be given within 28 days after the animal dies),
  • the animal has been missing for more than 72 hours (notification must be given within 96 hours after the animal went missing),
  • the animal has been found after having been reported missing (notification must be given within 72 hours after the animal is found),
  • any other event prescribed as a notifiable event by the regulations.

Failure to report these changes could result in a $880.00 fine. If the dog is restricted or declared dangerous, the maximum penalty for failing to report any of the above changes is $5,500.00.

It is an offence to provide false or misleading information. Any person who makes a false statement or provides information that the person knows is false or misleading can be fined $880.00.

Cats to have identification

It is an offence for a cat to not have a form of identification that enables a local authority to ascertain the name od the cat and the details of the owner.

The following cats are exempt from this requirement:

  • a cat on a property of which the owner of the cat is the occupier; or
  • a cat being exhibited for show purposes or proceeding immediately to or from a place at which it will be, or has been, exhibited for show purposes.

Identification may be in the form of a collar with a tag attached or a microchip. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence and can result in a  fine of $880.00.

Dogs must have identification

Unless a dog is on the property of its owner, or a working dog, there is a requirement in NSW for dogs to wear a collar and tag. Failure to comply with this requirement is an offence and could result in a fine of $880.00, or $5,500.00 if the dog is restricted or has been declared dangerous.

Interfering with an animal’s identification

It is an offence to remove, alter or otherwise interfere with any marking or implant in an animal that conveys information about the identity of the animal. The maximum penalty for this offence is $1,650.00.

If you require legal advice or assistance in relation to pet registration or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Sarah de Szell

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business and Commerce, majoring in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations from Western Sydney University. She has also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. Sarah is admitted as a Lawyer in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Sarah practices in all areas but has particular interests in criminal and civil law.

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