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Do I Need to Register My Dog in New York City?

“License and registration, please” isn’t just for driving. Many states require both for a surprising number of activities—think marriage, fishing, and hairstyling—and pups out and about in NYC are no exception. Hey, I’m pawkin’ heah!

Registration regulations for dogs vary state by state. And while registering your dog is required by law in New York, there are plenty of other reasons for both you and your pup to do so.

Read on for the shared benefits of dog licenses and some helpful tips for getting your pup registered.

Why to apply

Well, primarily, because it’s the law: dogs living in NYC must have a license from the NYC Health Department. Any dog four months or older, owned or residing in New York state for more than 30 days, needs a current license that they’ll wear anytime they’re in public.

Beyond what’s required legally, registering your dog can also help ensure their safety. All licenses are entered into NYC’s Dog eLocator database. It’s a big city out there, and if your precious pup ever gets lost, or if you’re separated during an emergency, their license information can help with the search-and-rescue process and assist a speedy return.

And when you’re ready to intentionally give them free reign, registered dogs with proof of rabies vaccination get access to the city’s off-leash dog runs. 

On top of everything, your licensing fees help fund animal shelters and support spay and neuter programs. Win-win-win, in our book.

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So…do they need a wallet?

Nope, although that would be downright cute, and we’d definitely call them pawlets. 

Your dog’s license is a metal tag issued by the NYC Department of Health, which should be worn on their collar or harness whenever they’re outside. You’ll also receive a printed certificate for your records and can download an e-version to your phone here. The number printed on their tag and their certificate can be looked up to confirm its status or if your dog ever gets lost.

What’s the cost?

It varies, based on your dog’s age and spay/neuter status. In NYC, the range is anywhere from $8.50 – $34, not including fines, late fees, or lost tag costs. Well worth the price for your pup’s safety, if you ask us.


Dog licenses for NYC are valid for 1-5 years, depending on their age and whether they’ve been spayed or neutered. Licenses must be renewed with the city before they expire. Lapsed, expired licenses can result in fines and late fees. 

The NYC Health Department will send you a reminder by mail before your dog’s license expires. If you want to proactively check their status, you can verify it here.

You’ve sold me! How do I apply?

Applying for your dog’s license in NYC is pretty painless, as far as city procedures go. (Major side eye to the DMV.) You can start the process in person, by mail, or online. 

The Department of Health periodically hosts in-person dog licensing events that offer same-day licensing, as well as renewal application and replacement services. You can find a schedule on their site.

If you’re a little bit old school and miss the lost art form of…well, forms, you can submit a written application by snail mail. You’ll need to fill out a paper application and send it with payment. You can request a hard copy of the form by calling 311 or downloading it here.

For those pup parents who want to save time and postage, fortunately, many operations have been moved online (hello, future!). NYC dogs and owners can start new applications or request renewals here.


Better care,
Right when you need it

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