The complete guide to microchipping your pet in South Australia – how, why and where

June 12, 2018

Discovering your beloved pet has gone missing can be hugely distressing – and, sadly, so many lost animals never find their way back home.

But there is one easy and inexpensive step that pet owners can take, which makes animals easily identifiable and can help see them returned home after wandering or getting lost. That simple measure is a microchip.

Unfortunately, too few animals are currently microchipped in South Australia. Just 139 of the 2,159 cats that came into RSPCA South Australia care in 2017 were microchipped – that’s just 6% of all cats.

With new laws about to make microchipping compulsory for all dogs and cats in South Australia, here’s what you need to know to keep your pet safe.

RSPCA helped reunite George the cat with his loving family after 18 months missing – thanks to his microchip. Read the full story here.

What is a microchip?

A permanent means of identification for your pet, a microchip is a small chip – about the size of a grain of rice – with a unique number that can be detected with a microchip scanner.

The chip itself is implanted at the back of your pet’s neck and retains critical information about your pet, as well as your owner contact details. The procedure itself is quick, cheap and generally painless for the animal.

Microchipping is available for most animals, with dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and even some livestock able to have the critical identification chip implanted.

By law, from July 1, 2018, all South Australian dogs and cats must be microchipped. That microchip number must be registered on the new state-based Dogs and Cats Online system, which is free to use.

Why should I microchip my pet?

These tiny chips allow pet owners the best chance of having your lost pet returned safely home with minimum fuss.

Should your cat or dog ever get lost or go wandering, veterinarians, animal shelters like RSPCA and local councils can easily scan your animal’s microchip and access your contact information through the database.

Take Millie the cat, for example. The thin and sickly 15-year-old was found by RSPCA South Australia in a grotty Parafield Gardens drain this year. RSPCA Rescue Officer Nalika immediately discovered Millie was microchipped – a quick call to the phone number on her file and Millie’s very surprised owner Elle soon arrived to collect her long-lost cat. Turns out Millie had been missing for five years!

Microchipped Millie, who was rescued by RSPCA South Australia and reunited with her owner after five years missing. See the story here.

Am I legally required to microchip my pet?

In the Australia Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, microchipping is compulsory and enforced by law.

Now South Australia is about to follow suit. Under new laws coming into force on July 1, 2018, all dogs and cats must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age or within 28 days of acquiring the animal.

That microchip number must then be registered with the new state-based Dogs and Cats Online system, which is free to use. If your pet is already registered with one of the national systems (such as Pet Chip RegistryCentral Animal RecordsPetsafe and HomeSafeID) you will also need to enter this microchip number into South Australia’s Dog and Cats Online system.

With compulsory laws legislating microchipping, it is more important than ever to get your pet implanted. The new laws will hopefully also help relive the already-strained resources of RSPCA South Australia and other animal welfare charities.

And microchipping definitely works. Kevin and his two children, Tanisha and Domanic were ecstatic to have microchipped their fur-baby, 9-year-old Harold. After nearly a year away from home, Kevin received the phone call he had been hoping for: RSPCA had found Harold alive and well thanks to his microchip.

Harold the cat was reunited with his family via his microchip, after one year missing.

Who can microchip my pet?

Finding somewhere to microchip your cat or dog can be as simple as finding a veterinary clinic. While only certified microchip implanters are authorised to microchip pets, most veterinarians and some councils do offer the service. Or adopt your pet from RSPCA South Australia – all our animals are desexed and microchipped.

The average cost of getting your pet microchipped in Australia is around $45. This is a one-time cost and can often cover the registration fee for your details in a microchip database.

ChipBlitz also offers discounted $10 microchipping in over 30 central and rural South Australian locations. 

It’s a small price to pay for keeping your beloved pet safe. Like Gingy the ginger cat, who jumped the fence after his family moved to Morphettville, and simply disappeared. Five months later, though, he was brought to RSPCA Lonsdale and rapidly reunited with his relieved owner Natasha, all thanks to his microchip.

Gingy and his elated owner’s reunion after five months’ missing. See the micro-chipping success story here.

How do I update my microchip details?

Keeping your contact details up-to-date is vitally important to ensure the safe return of your animal, should they ever stray from home. You must update your details when you move home or change your phone number.

To update your details in the new state-based register, simply visit Dogs and Cats Online and enter in your new details.

If your pet is also registered with a national system, the easiest way to update is by visiting Petaddress. Just type in your animal’s microchip number and it will automatically search the various animal databases, such as Pet Chip Registry, Central Animal Records, Petsafe and HomeSafeID.

Remember, you must keep your details up to date in both the new Dogs and Cats Online system and the national system.

Tinkerbell the cat’s owners were so relieved they kept their contact details up to date. The black and white cat was adopted from RSPCA South Australia almost a decade ago, and was microchipped then, as all RSPCA cats are. But Tinkerbell went missing late last year, before turning up three months later at our Lonsdale shelter as a stray. Reuniting her with owner Georgia was as simple as a phone call!

Tinkerbell and mum Georgia back together after 3 months missing – with thanks to her microchip. Read more here.

Should you have trouble locating your pet’s registry, contact your vet for help finding out which database your animal is listed in.

When should I get my pet microchipped?

All RSPCA South Australia cats and dogs are microchipped prior to adoption, but if your pet is not, it’s a simple process.

It is generally safe to microchip your pet dog or cat at four weeks of age and onward, ensuring they are over 1kg in weight. There is no age limit, so it’s never too late to microchip your pet and guarantee them the best chance at finding their way home.

And remember, from July 1, 2018, microchipping will become mandatory in South Australia, with all dogs and cats legally required to be microchipped by three months of age, or within 28 days of acquiring the animal.

Still need convincing? Watch Asha’s incredible survival story

Meet Asha, the pooch who found her way home after five long years missing – thanks to her microchip.

Asha was found by RSPCA South Australia rescue officers in late 2016, with a severely matted coat. After receiving the care she so desperately needed, Asha’s family were contacted with the wonderful news that their beloved dog had been found, alive and well.

Watch the video below to see Asha’s heart-melting reunion with her family.

A pet is a permanent member of the family, and for most pet owners, losing a pet can be just devastating. So do the right thing and chip your pet today.

For full details about South Australia’s major new dog and cat management law changes, and how you’re affected by new microchipping, desexing and breeding laws, head here.

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28 thoughts on “The complete guide to microchipping your pet in South Australia – how, why and where”

  1. Sharon Balestrin

    Our dog has a grade 4 heart disease and the vet wouldn’t microchip him. He wasn’t expected to live to 12 months but he did and he is now 31/2 years old. We asked the vet again abou5 this law and he said he wouldn’t recommend the microchip. He has written a note on our receipt stating this.
    Do you know if there are exemptions. We are getting the other 2 dogs microchipped.

  2. Marion Friedl

    In Germany you gotta register your microchipped pet at one of the 2 pet registers, Tasso e. V.´s the bigger one, the smaller one´s Findefix, unfortunately many pet owners get their pets microchipped, but forget to register them too, then the pets often can never be reunited with their owners when they got out…. My Gizzy who´s been born in 2004 still has a tatoo, but is registered at Tasso, Thori wears a tag from Tasso on his collar, although they´re both pure indoor cats, such can eventually get out on the way to the vet when they manage to open the carrier door, and what if they haven´t been registered then???

  3. Heather Preiss

    Hello, just wondering how much it will cost to get my 2 cats micro chopped… I’m a pensioner. Also wondering if you need people to walk the dogs at the shelter. Hope to help
    ..Heather Preiss

  4. Sandra

    When are you chipping in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide please?

  5. George Travangos

    My son has over looked chipping his dog.his dog is very old has not left yard in years and is in my care at his old age.He got $170 fine FROM COUNCIL for the dog not being chipped , Council did not notify my son off the chipping. please addvice. George

  6. Nina

    We have a cat that was dumped near our house, he decided to move under our house and we do feed him (can’t let him starve). No one has claimed him as we checked with the vets and advertised that he was found. Since then we have paid for him to be desexed by our local vet under a stray scheme. Do we need to microchip him??

    1. Hi Nina,
      Thank you so much for caring for this cat and getting him desexed. It sounds like he’s almost part of the family now. If you wish to take him on board as your own, South Australian law requires you to microchip him. Alternatively, you can call our strays and surrender office on 1300 4 777 22 to see if anyone has reported the animal missing to us. Or, you (or someone else) can bring the animal to our Lonsdale shelter or AWL. To find out more information, please visit:
      Thank you.

  7. Dianne Essex

    How do I Microchip ownership, is there a form or something I can get

    1. Hi Dianne, as we’ve mentioned in the article, finding somewhere to microchip your cat or dog can be as simple as finding a veterinary clinic. ChipBlitz also offers discounted $10 microchipping in over 30 central and rural South Australian locations. To update your details when you move house or change your phone number, simply visit and enter in your new details. Thanks!

  8. mark

    how much do u charge to microchip a dog

  9. Ellen Polomka

    I live in South Plympton and im on a pension can you tell me how much it would cost to get my kitten microchiped i have had him for 1 daym he is 8 weeks old

  10. Simon

    Hi there, Do you need to microchip your pet if you don’t have insurance?

  11. chris

    Is there any way to track which vet inserted a microchip?

    1. Hi Chris, unfortunately there isn’t unless you have a microchip certificate. You can do a general microchip search with the microchip number, which will tell you where the microchip is registered to, and touch base with the company to see if they have details of which vet implanted the chip. However, please note that most companies either will not have this information or will not be able to provide it unless the microchip is registered under the current owner’s name. At RSPCA we use to search where a chip is registered. Thanks.

  12. Erin

    Hi! I have a dog that has been micrchiped but not registered. I didnt get it done and have no info. How do i get the dogs microchip registered in my name? Thanks!

  13. Mel

    Would I be able to come into see you and get my cats chip scanned. She is chipped but we don’t have the number and need to register her, thanks

    1. Hi Mel we recommend you find your nearest vet and book an appointment. You can also check with your local council to see if they offer services 🙂

  14. Johnly

    Good morning, I just want to ask if you do scanning as well before giving microchip ? As our dog was only given to us and we dont sure if she has or hasn’t and according to the previous owner she is not registered but the owner didnt tell us if she was microchip as well. She is now registered but not chipped yet.

    1. Hi Johnly before your pet is chipped they can be scanned to ensure if they already have one. We would recommend reaching out to the previous owner before doing this. All the best.

  15. Sarah

    Do you know if cats that have microchips have state registration details provided as well as microchip database details when they are scanned? I have found it impossible to update ownership and contact details with the database that my cat’s microchip is registered with, but I have been able to successfully register my cat (and it’s microchip details) on the SA dog and cat management system.
    I’m just concerned that if my cat was ever lost, they wouldn’t be able to contact me as the microchip database details are incorrect. Thanks

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Updating your cat via the dog and cats online website should update the address information

      You can also update it on the national database

      IF you are having issues registering online please contact your local council for assistance.

      If you are having any additional problems you can contact the dog and cat board on (08) 8124 4962 or email them on

      I hope this information helps.

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