New rules are in place from 1 July 2019 when selling or giving away a cat or dog in NSW.

If you own or care for a cat or dog at any stage during its life, it is your responsibility to provide for its needs and protect its welfare including when selling or giving away a cat or dog. There are laws, regulations, and standards in place to help ensure good welfare outcomes for companion animals. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, and humane handling.

Buying or adopting a cat or dog

Deciding to introduce a new cat or dog into your family is an exciting time. By law, from 1 July 2019, anyone selling or giving away a cat or dog must use an identification number in any advertisement. This number will be either:

  • a microchip number
  • a breeder identification number OR
  • a rehoming organisation number

This number will help you to find out more information about the cat or dog that is advertised. If you see an advertisement that does not include an identification number, or you suspect an advertisement includes a false number, you should lodge a complaint here.

If the advertisement relates to a greyhound being sold or rehomed by a greyhound racing industry participant, you should contact theGreyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission. To find out more about advertising a dog or cat for rehoming or for sale, visit a more detailed question and answer page.

Before you get a cat or dog 

AWL NSW has a few tips when considering buying or adopting a cat or dog:

  • Make sure you can meet the animal’s needs. You need to understand the breed, the animal’s characteristics, expected lifespan, and how much time and money is needed to look after the cat or dog
  • Consider introducing a new cat or dog to any existing pets, and get advice if you’re unsure whether the animals will be compatible.
    Make sure your children know how to safely interact with your cat or dog
  • Contact the breeder or seller if you have any questions about the origin of a cat or dog
  • Research the breeder or seller and, if possible, visit the facility where the animal has been bred or is being housed in order to assess the animal’s living conditions and welfare
  • Check if the cat or dog is up to date with vaccinations, flea and worm treatments
  • Check if the animal is microchipped and registered and whether annual permits are needed.

Download Pets4Life’s FREE eGuide – Before you get a dog.

Check the NSW Pet Registry

Use the identification number to check the NSW Pet Registry to confirm the number is valid. A microchip number search will provide you with information about what the owner has recorded as the breed, sex, and age of the cat or dog, whether it is desexed and whether or not it is already registered. From 1 July 2019, the NSW Pet Registry will also let you know whether an annual permit is needed to keep the animal. For more information about annual permits, contact your local council.

A breeder identification number search will also display any recorded business names so that you can do further research, make informed purchasing decisions and help support good animal welfare outcomes. A rehoming organisation number search will display the name and address of the relevant rehoming organisation.

Selling or giving away a cat or dog in NSW

You play a critical role in providing for the welfare of cats and dogs that you sell or rehome. This information will help you to meet your responsibilities. From 1 July 2019, people advertising kittens, cats, puppies or dogs for sale or to give away in NSW will need to include an identification number in advertisements. The identification number can be either:

  • a microchip number
  • a breeder identification number, OR
  • a rehoming organisation number.

This rule applies regardless of:

  • the age of the animal
  • the place you plan to advertise
  • whether you are a hobby or professional breeder; or your cat or dog has had an accidental or one-off litter
  • whether or not you bred the animal
  • whether or not the animal you are selling or rehoming has been born yet.

If you don’t use an identification number, or you falsify a number, you could be issued with an on-the-spot fine or face court, where a maximum penalty of $5,500 applies.

The rules will apply to all advertisements, including those in newspapers, local posters, community notice boards and all forms of online advertising, including public advertisements on websites such as the Trading Post, Gumtree and social media sites. The changes have been implemented in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Companion Animal Breeding Practices. The changes help people looking to buy a cat or dog search the NSW Pet Registry to see the animal’s:

  • breed
  • sex
  • age
  • whether it is desexed
  • whether or not it is already registered
  • whether any annual permit is in place (from 1 July 2019).

A breeder identification number search will also display any business name listed in the registry.

This enables buyers to do further research and make informed purchasing decisions. It also helps to promote responsible cat and dog breeding and selling and, over time, enable enforcement agencies to use this information to identify ‘problem’ breeders to enforce animal welfare laws.

How do I get an identification number?

Microchip number:
A microchip number is a 15 digit unique identification number. In NSW, all cats and dogs, other than exempt cats and dogs, must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age or before being sold or given away, whichever happens first.

If you are selling a cat or dog, it must be microchipped. If you want to use a microchip number in an advertisement, you can take your cat or dog to a veterinarian or other authorised identifier and have it microchipped. If your cat or dog is already microchipped, a veterinarian or other authorised identifier can use a scanner to retrieve the number for you.

Breeder identification number:
Breeder identification numbers are free and available to cat and dog breeders online through the NSW Pet Registry.

New breeder identification numbers will continue to be issued by the NSW Pet Registry to new owners who identify as breeders. This must happen before an animal is sold or given away.

Cat and dog breeders that are members of a recognised breeding body, like Dogs NSW, are also able to use their member number as a breeder identification number. To register a cat or dog or find your breeder identification number, visit the NSW Pet Registry.

Rehoming organisation number:
The Office of Local Government will issue rehoming organisation numbers to local councils, pounds and shelters and certain other cat and dog rehoming organisations.

This will help local councils and other organisations that rehome a large number of cats and dogs; enabling them to use a single number in place of multiple microchip numbers, while still providing traceability of cats and dogs that are advertised.

Make sure your cat or dog is registered

You also need to register dogs by the time they are six months old, and cats by the time they are four months old. Once you have paid the registration fee, the animal will have lifetime registration, even if ownership changes. You can register your cat or dog:

Consider desexing your cat or dog

Consider desexing your cat or dog prior to selling or giving it away. Desexing can help avoid some unwanted diseases and behaviours and stops unwanted litters. Some councils will give you a discounted registration fee if your animal is desexed. To find out more, contact your local council.

Make sure ownership is transferred

When selling or giving away a cat or dog in NSW, you need to transfer the ownership to the person buying or adopting your pet. It is important that you check that this has been done and the person has accepted ownership. Visit the Office of Local Government website to find out more.