Help me overclock my cat
August 23, 2005 3:26 PM   Subscribe

My cat needs a microchip ID implant in order to enter Japan with me. Japan (and most of the world) uses ISO-standard microchips, but the de-facto standard in the U.S. is incompatible. The main supplier of U.S. pet microchips has gone so far as to sue companies who try to sell world compatible chips to the U.S. Does anybody know how to get an ISO-standard chip for my cat in the U.S.?

One alternative solution is to get the non-standard U.S chip implanted in my cat, and bring a compatible microchip reader with me when entering Japan. The problem is that the chip readers are, of course, expensive. Also, my cat would be incompatible with Japan's system if he gets lost.

Gotta love monopolies.
posted by jsonic to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried contacting the Japanese embassy in the US about this problem? It seems that if this is the case every single cat that anyone tried to bring with them would cause the owners grief, so I'm certain they will have a solution for it.

If not at least perhaps it will give them a heads up that the present system is flawed. Better than nothing I suppose.
posted by shepd at 3:36 PM on August 23, 2005

My cat needs a microchip ID implant in order to enter Japan with me.

Is it just me who suddenly feels like we're living in a science fiction novel?
posted by russilwvong at 3:38 PM on August 23, 2005

Could you import the chip yourself (just buy one online somewhere), then give it to your vet to insert?
posted by fionab at 3:50 PM on August 23, 2005

Is such a site as Maybe they could help.

But seriously, contect the embassy. They have answers for tons of crazy questions.
posted by Mroz at 4:11 PM on August 23, 2005

Do they have the right kind of chips in Canada? (You don't list your location in your profile so I don't know if you're nearby to travel there.)
posted by matildaben at 4:25 PM on August 23, 2005

Are you flying direct? Can you arrange your travel such that you have an overnight somewhere else on the way where you can get it done? Assuming you can't just have it done when you get there; presumably Japan has not bioengineered all their cats such that they're not born with these chips.
posted by phearlez at 4:33 PM on August 23, 2005

grrrrrr "not bioengineered all their cats such that they're born with these chips already implanted"
posted by phearlez at 4:34 PM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: My first stop for info was my vet, but they normally only deal with U.S. chips. I'll contact the Japanese embassy tomorrow.

ISO-standard chips are sold in Canada, but I don't know of a way to purchase and import one.

The process for importing a pet to Japan is very extensive and time-consuming, normally taking about 6-8 months of prep work. Here is the outline of steps:

1.) ISO chip implant
2.) 2 rabies vaccines at least 30 days apart
3.) blood test to confirm that the vaccines worked
4.) wait 6 months after the blood test
5.) government approved checkup before flight
6.) government stamps on all vaccine documents
7.) inform japan that you are bringing a pet (40 days ahead of time)

If you do all of that, then your pet will be allowed entry to japan within 12 hours or arrival. If you don't then your pet gets to stay in quarantine for 6 months.
posted by jsonic at 4:48 PM on August 23, 2005

Best answer: Slight derail here. Who is the "main supplier of U.S. pet microchips" that you are referring to? I know that there has been a lot of disapproval in the pet-owner world over the fact that Banfield pet hospitals (found in Petsmart stores) uses a different type of microchip than that used by the rest of the non-Banfield USA, which is thus not readable. I have never heard of ISO 9001 in this debate, so I am wondering who your vet is, who your vet's supplier of microchips is, and whether this Banfield situation is relevant. Perhaps it is a lead you have not yet investigated.
posted by MrZero at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: MrZero: ...whether this Banfield situation is relevant. Perhaps it is a lead you have not yet investigated.

Excellent! I just finished reading their website, and it looks like they support and use the ISO standard chips. I will contact them tomorrow.

The supplier I'm referring to is AVID. This is the standard that is used most in the U.S. currently. The ISO standards I'm referring to are: ISO 11784 and 11785. The AVID/ISO controversy centers around the fact that most AVID chip readers can't read the ISO chips. Therefore lost pets with ISO chips implanted might get euthanized because the old readers couldn't find their chip.
posted by jsonic at 6:21 PM on August 23, 2005

Why does this company have a right to restrict these chips? Did they patent the idea?
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on August 23, 2005

although i think this whole monopoly thing is ridiculous, it's smart of japan to require a microchip - that way if the animal gets lost or separated it's really easy to identify it. in case you forgot, animals can't tell you who their owners are!
posted by radioamy at 8:10 PM on August 23, 2005

delmoi: Yes, AVID holds and enforces patents on its chips, which are incompatible with the ISO standard.

There is no US standard, which has led to AVID and others marketing chips which are incompatible with the global standard. They were first to market so they're well established, and Banfield -- the company that doesn't have a great reputation among pet lovers -- is the one trying to introduce the global-compatible chip. My first Google hit found a website arguing not only that Banfield were the bad guys, but that AVID and others had every right to establish their own standard, for the familiar nationalistic reasons.

There really is no monopoly, it's just that there is already an "installed base" of non-ISO chips and vets/shelters/pounds with non-ISO readers, so an ISO chip is seen by pet lovers as a risk. AVID does enforce its patents, which is why Banfield went with ISO. Banfield didn't always inform pet owners of the difference, further sullying the reputation of the company and of ISO chips.

Professional groups are reacting by endorsing the ISO standard, but it will be slow to adopt.
posted by dhartung at 9:27 PM on August 23, 2005

Someone I know just brought their cat through in a cat carrier and didnt go through quarantine. Because of the way Narita airport is set up it is easy to avaoid quarantine. Besides avoiding the cat tag, you also avoid paying for 2 weeks of mandatory pet sitting. If you are interested in more details, please email me (see profile).
posted by ejoey at 2:24 AM on August 24, 2005

I typed avoid so many times, and still misspelled it once. For shame.
posted by ejoey at 2:25 AM on August 24, 2005

Response by poster: Followup: I called the nearest Banfield Pet Hospital, and the staff said that Banfield no longer does microchip ID implants. Back to square one.
posted by jsonic at 6:23 AM on August 24, 2005

Well, the Japanese site says that you must bring a microchip reader with you if the chip inplanted in the pet doesn't meet the ISO standard. I would assume that this can be purchased from the US microchip company.

This is also the case when working with the UK's Pet Travel Scheme
posted by smcniven at 6:40 AM on August 24, 2005

Doh, I didn't read all of your question. Sorry for duplicating info.
posted by smcniven at 6:41 AM on August 24, 2005

Response by poster: Second Followup: I contacted the Japanese Embassy in Washington, but they didn't have information about where to obtain the ISO chips. They suggested that I could just get the U.S. chip implanted, and to bring my own chip reader.
posted by jsonic at 6:44 AM on August 24, 2005

Since you've established that Canada is not accessible to you, where are you, so we can look for local hacks? This thread (scroll down) talks about how the Netherlands requires the international chip but can read a specific chip from the US. Is it possible Japan has the same thing?

I thought the whole point of the international standard was also the universal readers thing, so that it and all other chips can be read?
posted by scazza at 6:51 AM on August 24, 2005

Three ideas:

1. Ask your airline's central office for the latest and fullest info.

2. Assuming you are an American, contact the "American Citizens Services" section at the US Embassy in Tokyo. Unlike the Japanese Embassy, which has no real stake in your plight, the US Embassy should see this as a service to US citizens and go the extra mile to help. (By the way, there is pretty authorititative looking info on pet importation on their website, but nothing that suggests any alternative to bringing your own reader. But it would still be worth contacting them directly to see if they have more info).

3. If for some reason the US Embassy in Tokyo can't help, ask them for the contact information for the main club/association for American expatriates in Japan. Someone in their membership is bound to have faced this before and may be able to provide a solution.
posted by senor biggles at 8:33 PM on August 26, 2005

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