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Pet Registration Offences (NSW)

This article deals with the pet registration requirements for cats and dogs as they are the most common household pet. Any other pet may be subject to different legislative requirements and any prospective owners should make themselves aware of the specific requirements related to the type of animal they are planning to own.

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


Unless a cat or dog is exempt from pet registration, it must be microchipped by the age of 12 weeks, or prior to being sold or given away, whichever occurs first.

Failing to microchip a pet can result in a fixed penalty notice of $180. If a dog is restricted or declared dangerous, the fixed penalty amount for failing to microchip it is $880.00. These are penalties that are imposed by the council and sent out to owners as infringement notices.

The amounts of fines can increase significantly should a matter be determined by a court. The maximum penalty that a court may impose for failing to microchip a pet is $880.00, or $5,500 for a restricted or dangerous pet.

Does my animal need to be registered?

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

Failing to register a pet in NSW can result in a fixed penalty notice of $330. Should the matter be determined by a court, the maximum penalty that applies is $5,500, or $6,500 if it is a dog that is restricted or has been declared dangerous.

Exemptions from pet registration 

The following animals have an exemption from pet registration in NSW:

  • Cats born prior to 1 July 1999 whose ownership has not changed;
  • Dogs used for tending stock on rural properties;
  • Greyhounds that are registered under the Greyhound Racing Act 2009.

If you think your animal is eligible for an exemption you should contact your local council should be contacted to confirm this.

How is pet registration done?

Pet registration in NSW can be done online or over the counter at your local council.

Is there a pet registration fee?

There are no registration fees that apply for the following animals:

  • Working dogs;
  • Cats born before 1 July 1999 where ownership has not changed;
  • Assistance Animals;
  • Dogs in the service of the state such as police dogs; and
  • Greyhounds that are registered under the Greyhound Racing Act 2009.

Moving to New South Wales and pet registration

If you move to NSW, you must identify and register your cat or dog with your local council within three months.

If you are from interstate and plan to be in NSW for a period of more than three months, you must microchip and register your pet with the local council.

Any cats or dogs that are imported to New South Wales from overseas must meet Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service import conditions.

Can the council microchip my pet?

Any cat or dog taken into custody by the council must be registered and microchipped before returning to its owner. This is so even if the animal is less than 6 months old, or otherwise exempt from pet registration laws.

Reporting changes to pet registration

Under Section 11 of the Companion Animals Act, the owner of a cats or dogs must report the following:

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

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

It is an offence to provide false or misleading information in the process of pet registration. Any person who knowingly makes a false statement or provides information that they know is false or misleading can receive a fine of $880.00.

Cat identification

It is an offence for a cat not to have a form of identification that enables a local authority to establish its name and its owner’s details.

The following cats are exempt from the requirement to have identification:

  • a cat on a property where the cat’s owner is the occupier; or
  • a cat being exhibited for show purposes or proceeding immediately to or from such an exhibition.

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

Dog identification

Unless a dog is on its owner’s property or a working dog, it must wear a collar and tag. Failure to comply with this is an offence and could result in a fine of $880.00, or $5,500.00 if it is a dog that is restricted or has been declared a dangerous dog.

Interfering with an animal’s identification

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

If you require legal advice or assistance in relation to pet registration or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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