Dog Licensing


Multiple pieces of legislation apply to dog owners in Northern Ireland. This guide will help you understand your responsibilities, but it is not to be considered legal advice. The information below applies to Northern Ireland only. The rules may be different in the Republic of Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland.

Dog Licensing

You must obtain a dog licence for each dog you own (unless exempted).

In order to obtain a licence you must be over 16 years old and not be disqualified from keeping dogs. The fee for licensing your dog is £12.50 annually, though reduced fees of £5 are available if you are in receipt of certain state benefits, are aged over 65 and/or if the dog is net. Each Local Government District (LGD, formerly district councils) has an online portal for applications (follow this link).

In certain circumstances, the owner of three or more dogs may apply for a ‘block licence’ at an annual fee of £32.  

To licence your dog it must be microchipped, and the correct information (e.g. contact details) must be held on the microchip database. A condition of a licence is that, when in a public place, the dog must wear a collar with the owner’s name and address inscribed on it, or a plate or badge attached to the collar (some exemptions apply for working dogs). If ownership of a dog is later transferred (e.g. your dog is given to a friend or relative), you need to apply to the LGD for a certificate of transfer. If your dog is a prohibited breed of dog (i.e. a so called ‘dangerous dog’) you cannot apply for a dog licence, unless the dog has been exempted. For more information on prohibited breeds please follow this link.

Block licences:

If you keep more than 3 dogs at the same address/premises you can apply for a block licence (i.e. one licence which applies to multiple dogs). These block licences only apply where you have:

–              3 or more unspayed bitches (which between all of them breed less than 3 litters in a 12-month period)

–                 3 or more dogs registered with the kennel club or other similarly recognised organisation.

What can happen if I break the law?

It is an offence if your dog does not wear the right collar or identification. Conviction could result in a maximum fine of £1,000. Keeping a dog without a valid licence may result in:

1.     a warning

2.     a formal caution

3.     a fixed penalty or prosecution

4.     a fine of up to £1,000

It is also an offence to take possession of a dog before you have obtained a licence for it (whether you paid for it or not). You can be prosecuted for this offence and may be liable to a maximum fine of £1,000. The person who gave or sold you the dog is also guilty of an offence in these circumstances.


The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 (as amended)

The Dogs (Licensing and Identification) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012