Pet Travel: Pet Microchips and Scanners

Travel with a Pet via cargoRegardless of whether you?re traveling around the block or around the world, a microchip is essential for your pet. In fact, if you plan on traveling internationally, it may be required. Did you know that less than half of dogs and a fifth of cats have any form of identification? Could you imagine the nightmare of losing your pet on a trip or vacation? A microchip and scanner will help ensure your pet gets back to you anytime, anywhere.

What is a microchip?

Microchips are transponders (about the size of a grain of rice) made up of an electronic chip and small antenna and is inserted using an implanter. For most animals, microchips are inserted in between the shoulder blades. The implanting process is painless, lasts a few seconds and is perfectly tolerated by pets. The procedure is very similar to your pet’s routine vaccinations. Find out more about pet microchips.

How does the microchip operate?

Once the microchip is successfully inserted, a microchip scanner (or reader) can be used to identify the chip. (Please note: not all microchip scanners will read every type of microchip) The scanner sends a low frequency signal providing energy needed for the microchip. The chip then sends the unique microchip number back to the reader and it is displayed on the LCD screen of the reader. This number is unique to your pet. Several of the numbers will represent the manufacturer and some the country of manufacture. This number can be researched and your information can be found through a worldwide database supported by the manufacturer. Remember that the responsibility for registering the microchip belongs to the pet owner. Make sure to complete the registration information and keep it updated.

How do I scan a pet for a microchip?

? Before you start the process, make sure you?re using either a universal reader or a scanner that specifically identifies the type of chip inserted in the pet. Note: Not all readers will identify every type of chip.
? Ensure you?re not too close to any computer or metal equipment that could cause interference with the magnetic field of the reader antennae.
? Hold the microchip scanner close to the pet.
? Scan the pet rocking the scanner back and forth (in a zigzag like pattern) as microchip can be implanted in different orientations.

The importance of microchips in pet travel is enormous. The chip will give your pet a unique and permanent identity that can neither be duplicated nor removed. Make sure that your pet’s microchip has been registered and all contact information is up to date and accurate. More about pet travel.


Pet Travel: Pet Microchips and Scanners — 20 Comments

  1. Claudia – you have two choices. You can carry your own microchip scanner that will read the Avid chips or have your cats re-chipped and re-vaccinated for rabies (in that order) at least 21 days before entering Spain. Since the rules where changed at the end of 2014, there are no guarantees that the scanners available at customs clearance will read the Avid chip.

  2. Hello,
    we are moving with our two cats from Dubai to Spain. I read about the ISO 11784/5 microchips, but my cats have an Avid microchip each, would that be a problem when arriving to Spain? Thanks!!

  3. Hello Alicia – have your veterinarian implant a microchip with 15 digits. These are the ISO 11784 compliant chips that are accepted worldwide. If the manufacturer of the chip does not have a database, then Google “worldwide microchip database”. There are several places where you can register your information.

  4. Hello. We currently live in Mexico and have adopted a dog. Within the next couple years, we will live in the US and Europe. Can I get a microchip that can be read in the Mexico, US and Europe? Also, can I get one where I can register in a database that will be accessible in all those countries? Thanks!

  5. Hello Sivakumar – India does not require that your dog be microchipped with an ISO 11784 compliant microchip. You can do that if you so wish, but it is not necessary to enter India.

  6. I am travelling with my dog to India from Canada. My dog is micro chipped when he was young 7 years back. Can I microchip him with new data for travel. Is it necessary to microchip to IATA standard @ 134.2 kz

  7. Cynthia – your comment just popped up and I am sorry I missed it. You may consider Datamars for a microchip. Their registration is free. You can find them at

  8. I’m rechecking Home Again… and they charge $17.99 per year, every year, to register a non Home-Again chip with them. Which is extremely expensive, I think, especially when I have five dogs, most of their chips are Avid, not Home Again. So getting a chip is easy, but registering a chip in ALL the registries can get really expensive!

  9. I have a dog I imported from Sweden in 2009, and he has a Swedish Microchip that can be read by all the scanners I’ve tried in the USA (I think I’ve tried 3 or 4 kinds).

    The downside to his chip is it’s a weird, long number. And even if he’s lost and the chip is scanned, there’s not really a good, free, universal chip registration service. I have registered his chip with every free registration I possibly can find, and even registered it with Home Again and Avid, which are possibly pay registrations sites if you do not have one of their chips. It’s a complicated process. Getting a chip is fine, scanning a chip seems to work fine, but registering the chips so that people can find the number on an internationally born pet… not so easy.

  10. I have a catflap with a built-in microchip reader. Nearby on a wall (about 1 metre away) is a switch that controls the hot water immersion heater. The switch has a ‘neon’ light to indicate when power is going through it. When the switch is in the ‘on’ position and power is going the switch, the microchip reader does not work, and the catflap does not open to allow the cat in.
    I suspect the problem is due to some sort of magnetic intereference caused by the power going through the hot water immersion heater switch.

    RESPONSE: if the cat flap is on the same circuit as the water heater, the voltage could be drawn down sufficiently so as to prevent the catflap from working. You should contact the manufacturer of the catflap for a solution.

    Can anyone provide a simple practical solution to this problem.

  11. Hello there, I am travelling by car/ferry from UK to France (then on to Spain) this summer with my dog, and because European border authorities seem to scan only ISO standard microchips, I need to know if the chip my dog has is ISO standard. It was fitted in 2001. I have asked my vet, the chip manufacturer, and various other agencies, and no-one has a definitive answer. The chip has 15 digits. Does this mean it is definitely ISO standard?
    If the pet received the chip in Europe then it is the ISO standard chip. Countries in Europe only use that chip.


    I have not heard of a 15 digit chip that was not ISO compliant, but I would go back to the chip’s manufacturer. They should absolutely know if their chip operates under standard 11784/11785 and at 134.2 kHz. Should that not work out for you, another way would be to obtain a scanner that only reads the ISO chip, such as this one: . If this reader fails, it is not an ISO chip. In that case, you will need to bring a scanner with you that can read the chip. Those are available on the same site. The cheapest way to go would be to rent one of our universal scanners and bring it with you. This won’t let you know if it is ISO compliant though, it will read the chip. If you have to “know”, then you might consider the 15 digit only scanner, but, you may then have to buy/rent the universal.


  12. ISO microchips cause cancer. A scanner uses radio waves to read the number encoded in a microchip. Just as you find your favorite radio stations by tuning into the right frequency, scanners need to be able to read the correct frequency to obtain this number. The problem is pet microchips come with different frequencies, such as 125 kHz, 128 kHz and 134.2 kHz. About 98 percent of the pet microchips in America use 125 kHz, whereas those in Europe use 134.2 kHz [source: USDA].
    In 1996, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), headquartered in Switzerland, adopted the 134.2 kHz frequency for pet microchips in an attempt to solve incompatibility problems. However, the United States was already largely using the 125 kHz microchip, and critics pointed out that changing to the ISO standard would be difficult and expensive.
    As if frequency incompatibility isn’t headache enough for the pet microchip industry and pet owners, studies show that microchips could cause cancer. In 2004, after investigating microchipping, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the process to be safe enough for use in humans and animals. However, since the 1990s studies have shown evidence that microchips cause cancerous tumors to develop in rats and mice. One 2001 study revealed that 1 percent of the rats tested developed these tumors on their bodies near the place where the microchip was implanted [source: Elcock].

    Response: While there have been some studies indicating a link between chips and cancer, the research is not conclusive. Breathing our air, eating our processed food, even fresh food that has been sprayed with pesticides, drinking our water, and even driving our cars (vinyl from cars may emit benzene fumes) “causes” cancer. Products such as paint, glue, furniture wax, detergents and many others contain benzene, a known carcinogenic. In our industrialized world, living causes cancer.

    While it is true that the US has been slow to adopt to the ISO standard, it is happening. This however has nothing to do with causal relationships between illness and the type of chip used. Whether one is for the implantation of chips or not, if one wants to travel internationally with their pet, one will likely need to be implanted to meet the entry requirements. Additionally, about 10 million pets are lost every year with only a fraction of them being returned to their owners. Four to six million pets a year are euthanized because homes cannot be found for them. The chances for reunification are greatly increased if a pet has a microchip. The benefit of having a microchip far outweighs any reasons for not having one. The risk of a pet being euthanized by a shelter is greater than the risk of a chip causing cancer. Both of my dogs have microchips for this reason. Should an owner choose to have their pet microchipped, it is important to register the chip into a database. Sadly, many pet owners forget or neglect to do this, rendering the chip useless.


  13. Hi, when I adopted my cats from the BCSPCA they were micro-chipped and tattooed. That was in 2001. I am now moving to China and need to update my pets microchip information and am having difficulty contacting the supplier, Petnet Microchip Identification. Are they still in existence? I was never given a scanner and called the SPCA many years ago to update information when we moved from there and was told they had nothing to do with it.

    We are now in Quebec and the vet we have been seeing does not seem knowledgeable about the official forms the cats need for China and just gives itemized me printouts with the sales receipt. What specific words do I need use, or where do I need to go to get the cats proper vaccine certificates and passports? Are there examples available for me to show the vet exactly what we need from him?
    Thanks heaps!
    I have not heard of the company and can find no reference to them. Most veterinarians have a universal scanner and should be able to read the chip.
    The other solution is to have the proper chip installed which is the ISO 15 digit microchip. You can find the pet passport for China here, it contains the detailed instructions and all of the necessary forms for taking a pet into China. You can also find the proper microchip at

  14. Hi
    I am taking my six month old puppy to France for a few days we have a valid passport and she has been chipped, someone said that they had to pay ?75 to have there dog scanned by Customs and they had to do it themselves is this true?
    France does not charge for scanning the pet. However, if your pet does not have the ISO 15 digit microchip then you need to carry your own scanner. If you are traveling after June 1 of this year be aware that there is a new form of pet passport required.

    If your pet has the wrong microchip it may be better to have a second microchip installed as it is cheaper than buying a scanner.
    You can find the new pet passport rules for France, the ISO microchip, the IATA compliant pet crate and other items you might need for your pet at

  15. Hi! This is an excellent post with helpful information. I am an avid supporter of the microchip and get worried when there is a misconception that this is harmful to our pets. Not only is the microchip painless but it is one of the best things we can do for our pets. I appreciate the way that you mentioned the link with travel and the microchip. That is excellent information that I hadn’t even considered! I am glad to have read your post and look forward to more! Thank you!

  16. Hi I live in Spain in the Canary Islands and I wanted to know some stuff. I’m moving back to England. Basically I have a 4 year old pet male dog here. I got him from someone who didn’t treat him very well and so hadnt had any injections or anything.

    He had his first injection for rabies on 27th April 2009 and his microchip. He was due his booster after 20 days but I’m doing tomorrow as not had the money till now.

    I knwo you have to wait 6 months before a pet can travel overseas but I wondered is this from when I gave him his first injection or would it be 6 months from tomorrow when he gets his booster?
    Since I do not what country you are flying to it is difficult to answer your question. For most countries you can enter 21 days after the first vaccination but this is not true for some countries. Give me the country you are traveling to and I can better advise you.

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