2013 Microchip Requirements

According to the FEI Veterinary Regulations 2013, 13th edition, article 1027.4: “All horses registering with the FEI for the first time must be indentifiable using a microchip and reader, compatible with ISO 11784 and ISO 11785.” And article 1027.5 states that “all microchip information must also be entered into the horse’s passport.”

While this rule is not clearly written, the interpretation is that starting in January of this year (2013), all horses that are to be newly registered with the FEI will need to be microchipped. Horses that are already passported or registered with FEI for identification purposes only (the $15 FEI registration fee you have already paid if your horse has done an FEI competition before 2013) will not be required to have a microchip implanted, at this juncture.

Riders should be aware that all microchips are not created equal! Microchips use passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which means that different chips can operate on different frequencies. The technology is proprietary, and there are many different companies manufacturing chips (and the scanners to “read” the unique numbers encoded by the chips).

Not all scanners and chips are compatible with each other. This means that if you implant one brand of microchip, another brand of microchip reader may not recognize your chip. In most countries other than the U.S., microchip manufacturers use an international standard to adhere to compatibility between chips and scanners. This is essentially what is referred to as the “ISO 11784 and 11785” in the FEI rule.

ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. This organization is involved with numerous aspects of global safety and standardization, including the international symbols for things like warning signs (yellow triangle) and prohibition signs (red circle with diagonal red line). Even the symbol for the low beams on your car’s headlights is an ISO symbol!

The microchip issue is made even more confusing by the fact that there are different interpretations of what is actually ISO-compliant. Some U.S. microchip companies now make more than one type of microchip, in order to be more compliant with the ISO standards. For instance, the “regular” AVID chip is not ISO-compliant, but the AVID Eurochip is, to a degree. The Eurochips do not support enough numerals within the unique code to be completely, literally, compliant.

In order to be ISO 11784 and 11785, a chip has to be either “full duplex” or “half duplex” type. These chips can support a three-digit country or manufacturer code as well as the identifying serial number that will be unique to your horse’s chip. The AVID Eurochip cannot support the three-digit country or manufacturer code.

At the time of this writing, the author was able to find the following brands of microchips that are definitely ISO 11784 and 11785 compliant, and that will be accepted by the FEI rule:

Š       Datamars

Š       Bayer’s ResQ

Š       MicrochipID Equine (15 digit chip)

Š       PetKey

Michele Roush, DVM, AERC International Committee Chair