A complete guide to the laws for pets in Portugal

Ilona Ilyés/Pixabay
Ilona Ilyés/Pixabay
29 October 2019, Redaction

If you're bringing your pet to Portugal or if you’re thinking of getting one, you should know that the current laws for pet owners are about to change. idealista/news takes a snapshot of the most important changes you need to be aware of in order to avoid fines.

This November will bring surprises for those who enjoy the company of a pet. To begin with, you'll have to register your dog, cat or ferret with the Portugese authorities and pay a fee. The ordinance no. 346/2019 published in the Diário da República on October 3rd explains that the aim of this legislation is "develop standards for the prevention of the abandonment of animals and the promotion of responsible tenure".

According to the new legislation on pets, it is now mandatory to register them in the pet information system (Sistema de Informação de Animais de Companhia – SIAC). The registration fee for each pet is 2.50 euros and is compulsory for all animals born in or present on Portuguese territory for a period of 120 days or more. If the date of birth is not known, the registration must occur until the loss of the incisor milk teeth. Pet owners who do not meet these deadlines may face a fine of no less than 50 euros and that may reach 3,740 euros if you are a private person or 44,890 euros if you represent an enterprise.

The new Portuguese Animal Law of 2019 also establishes the identification of the animal, its ownership or keeping, as well as the mandatory health information (data on vaccines).

You must also bear in mind that every time the animal changes ownership, a new registration must be made. If you, as an owner, change your residence, or if the animal moves to another address, or if the pet disappears or dies, you will always have to update the registration.

The registration is valid for 2019 and 2020 and will be subject to annual updating calculated based on the value of inflation disclosed by the Portuguese institute of statistics. The registration information recorded in the SIAC will be included in a document similar to an animal's identity card, which you must carry on all journeys with the animal.

In addition to the new legislation for pets that introduces this registration requirement, do not forget that you must also comply with the law concerning animals in condominiums. Although no one can oppose to you having animals in your apartment, there are certain rules you must comply with.

Some rules relate to the maximum number of animals allowed in each dwelling. In the case of an apartment it should not exceed three dogs or four adult cats and under no circumstances exceed four pets in total. It is also necessary not to forget the law regarding "neighbourhood noise". If the pet provokes a constant and repeated noise that disturbs the neighbours, in some cases, it can make sense to attend training classes with your dog.

What is the pet information system (SIAC)?

It is a public database that collects information on pets that reside in Portugal, as well as on their ownership, tenure, place of living and health status. It replaces the former Canine and Feline Identification System (SICAFE), which was not very efficient as it depended on willingness of the pet owners to register their animals.

The new Portuguese law establishes that the registration of animals is mandatory once they have been marked with a microchip. It is the responsibility of veterinarians and authorized agents to do so.

What is the purpose of SIAC?

The main objective is to prevent animal abandonment by promoting responsible tenure. By simplifying the procedures for registering and transferring ownership of animals, it is possible to find the owners of animals who appear lost, abandoned or sick on public roads.

How does the registration process work?

Pets must first be marked with a transponder, which is an electronic device (animal microchip) that is injected under the skin of the animal at a predefined location. Once tagged, the animal is registered in the system. The registry entry is associated to their microchip and also contains the owner’s identification and personal data, as well as relevant veterinary actions (mandatory vaccinations, amputations and castrations). In the case of animals that have come from a European Union country, the registration is made in the name of the person that appears in the pet passport or on the Health Certificate.

Which animals must be registered?

The identification and registration of pets is mandatory for dogs, cats and ferrets born in Portugal or resident in the country for more than 120 days. Other species can be registered voluntarily. Dogs with the Armed Forces and Security Forces that are marked and registered in systems equivalent to the SIAC are exempted. The same exception applies to pet animals living in research and experimentation centres.

How does the registration of purchased or adopted animals work?

Pet animals coming from a breeder or an establishment authorised to keep pet animals (such as animal protection associations) must be registered in the system before leaving the premises, even if they are not yet 120 days old.

Is it possible to vaccinate an animal without registration?

No. Veterinarians are obliged to confirm that pets are registered with the SIAC before carrying out rabies vaccination or other relevant veterinary acts. If animals are not registered, doctors must mark and register them before proceeding with the procedures.

How to proceed if the animal cannot be marked?

If, for health or similar reasons, an animal cannot be marked with the microchip, the veterinarian must issue and sign a statement justifying the absence of marking.

Who can be registered as an owner?

Only natural persons can be registered as animal owners in the pet information system. But there are two exceptions:

  • When the animal lives in an establishment authorised to keep pet animals, such as official collection centres, accommodation centres, assistance dog training centres and animal trade establishments;
  • When the owners is a public body or a rescue organisation or an undertaking holding a licence or licence issued under the private security regime.

Who can register with the SIAC?

Only veterinarians, parish councils, town councils and people accredited by these bodies can register dogs, cats and ferrets. Whenever they collect an animal from the street, the official collection centres must wait 15 days. If, after this period, no one claims the animal, the person in charge of the centre must register the animal in the pet information system with the institution's data.

When should the registration data be changed?

It is mandatory to update the register in the pet information system whenever the animal changes ownership, the owner changes residence (even if the animal does not change with it), the animal changes residence (even if the owner does not change with it), the animal disappears or diseases.

How to transfer ownership of an animal?

When an animal changes ownership, the record in the pet information system should be changed. The first to report the change should be the former owner, who informs the system that he no longer has the animal with him. The transmission should then be confirmed by the new owner.

What about animals received as a gift or part of an inheritance?

Animals that have changed ownership other than through purchase or adoption must also be registered with the data of the new owner. It is up to the new owner to update the register with the official authorities.

Consequences of not complying with the new pet legislation

Failure to comply with the new Portuguese registration rules in the pet information system results in fines ranging from €50 (for individuals) to €3,740 (for legal persons).

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