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LIVING IN ITALY

What you need to know about microchipping your pet in Italy

Microchipping is required for all dogs in Italy, as well as for cats and ferrets kept as pets in certain circumstances. Here's what pet owners need to know.

Here's what you need to know about microchipping your pet in Italy.
Here's what you need to know about microchipping your pet in Italy. Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP.

Under Italian law, all dogs in the country must be identified and registered on a national database.

For dogs born before 2004, a clearly legible tattoo (e.g., on the dog’s ear) is accepted in lieu of a microchip. For those born after, microchips are the only accepted form of identification.

The chip should be inserted within two months of the dog’s birth; owners who miss this deadline could incur fines amounting to several hundred euros.

READ ALSO: From barking to cleaning: The culture shocks to expect if you own a dog in Italy

The chip is small – similar in width to a grain of rice and about twice as long – and is inserted just under the skin with a needle slightly thicker than that used for injections. It might cause minor discomfort in the moment, but shouldn’t hurt.

A microchip is not a GPS tracker, so can’t be used to find missing dogs – but it does contain key information about the dog as well as the owner’s contact details, allowing lost dogs to easily be reunited with their families.

The procedure can be performed by a vet from the local health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or Asl) or an authorised independent vet. The cost varies between regions, but you’ll generally be charged around €10-25 at the Asl and €20-50 at a private practice.

Your vet will then enter your dog into the national registry with their microchip number and your tax code (codice fiscale). The registry entry will include mention of the dog’s name, gender, breed, size, age and colour, and the owner’s name, address, and telephone number.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy with pets? Here’s what you need to know

If a dog gets a new owner, the national database should be updated within fifteen days of the transfer. Your vet will provide an ownership transfer form which should be signed by both the old and new owner and filled out with the new owner’s details.

Italy doesn’t have a blanket requirement for any pets other than dogs to be microchipped, but it’s still required in some circumstances.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Do renters in Italy have the right to keep pets?

Cats and ferrets kept as pets (as well as dogs) brought into Italy from outside the country must also be marked with a 15-digit ISO 11784/11785 compliant microchip, or with a clearly legible tattoo if it was applied before July 3rd, 2011.

If you’re resident in Italy and want to take your pet cat or ferret on holiday abroad, they’ll also need to be microchipped in order to receive a ‘pet passport’ to allow them to travel in and out of the country.

While Italy does not have national laws requiring cats to be microchipped, each region has its own rules – so you’ll want to check what the law is in your local area.

Lombardy, for example, made it obligatory on January 1st, 2020 for all cats in its territory born after that date to get chipped.

Regardless of whether it’s a legal requirement, many people opt to have their cat microchipped to make sure they stand the best chance of being reunited in case their pet wanders a little too far from home and loses their way.

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For members

ITALY EXPLAINED

The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

While summer holidays are important everywhere, Italy takes the tradition of le vacanze estive particularly seriously. Here's what to expect now that August has arrived.

The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

1. Cities are largely deserted

If you’re in a city or town, prepare for it to feel strangely empty away from the obvious tourist destinations.

In Rome, car journeys that once involved a half-hour battle through wild traffic become surprisingly quick and stress-free. And where are the crowds at your usual after-work drinks spot in Milan? Even the smallest towns will be noticeably quieter than usual.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

This is because all sensible Italian residents have packed up and gone to the beach or the mountains for a month. Next year, you’ll know to do the same.

2. But beaches are packed

Italy was a nation of staycationers even before the pandemic, and in August it’s tutti al mare: everyone flees to the beach, or maybe the mountains, at the same time.

Expect resorts to be packed and hotels, Airbnbs and campsites to be fully booked, especially as international tourists return after two years of travel restrictions.

3. Shops have cheery ‘closed for holidays’ signs

Shop workers and owners take time off like everyone else and it’s very common for small independent businesses like bakeries, pharmacies and florists to close for up to a month.

Some will tell you when they expect to reopen, others just put a sign in the window saying ‘chiuso per ferie’ – closed for holidays.

4. The summer sales are (still) on

Those shops that do remain open – mainly large chain stores and supermarkets –  offer discounts throughout August to those dedicated shoppers who aren’t at the beach. Italy only allows two retail sales a year, and one of those runs through July and August.

5. Everyone you email is out of the office

Need to contact anyone urgently at work this month? If they’re in Italy, then too bad.

Office workers are also usually on holiday, and a great many offices close altogether for three or four weeks.

Forget about out-of-office email replies suggesting an alternative contact or that the person will be checking their email sporadically – they will be on the beach and whatever you want can wait until they are back.

This applies to banks and to any kind of government bureaucracy, and you may also have trouble getting medical appointments at this time of year.

There’s only one place to be in Italy in August, as far as many Italians are concerned. Photo by Giovanni ISOLINO / AFP

6. There are ‘red alert’ heat warnings in place

This summer has been an unusually hot one and Italy has already experienced several extreme heatwaves. But as we get into August temperatures will no doubt be high across the board, meaning the country’s health authorities put heat warnings in place on the hottest days and strongly advise people to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the afternoon.

7. Every major road has a traffic warning

Italy’s state police make good use of the red pen when putting together the official traffic forecast for August. All weekends feature ‘red dot’ traffic warnings as people head off on holiday, or return home.

The final weekend of August, when people head home in time for il rientro (the return to school and work in September) is also best avoided.

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