Licensing & Identification

Why License Your Animal? 
The goal of licensing programs is two-fold. First, licensing helps prevent against rabies outbreaks by requiring all dogs to be vaccinated for rabies (over 4 months of age.) Second, licensing your dog also increases the likelihood that you pet will be reunited with you if he or she ever becomes lost. When you license you pet, Animal Control will have your contact information and can look up your information using your dog's unique license number on their license tag. If your dog is impounded by Animal control, or someone finds your dog loose and brings them to the shelter, the fees are reduced if your dog is currently licensed. But most importantly, licensing your dog is the law! 

Licensing is Easy!
Even though it's the law for all dogs over four months of age to be vaccinated against rabies and licensed, some owners either don't know the law, or don't understand that vaccination and licensing are important parts of responsible pet ownership. They don't appreciate the precious package they have in their possession.

As a responsible, caring pet owner, you understand how vaccinating and licensing helps keep your pet safe and healthy. We want to help. Our license application is short and easy to complete. Please, license your pet today. Do it for your pet and for your peace of mind.

Download a Dog License Application Form
*As of 9/20/15, please include 3-digit CVV number on the back of your credit card along with other credit card information.

*Obtaining a rabies vaccination for your dog over the age of 4 months is State Law, and City Code. However, if your Veterinarian has deemed receiving the vaccine a health hazard for your dog, you may file for an exception from the rabies vaccine to still obtain a dog license, which is still required.
Download the Rabies Vaccination Exemption Form

Dog Registration
More than 3,500 dogs are reported lost to our office each year. Licensing is the single most effective way to provide a network of protection for your best friend.

  • Take your dog to your veterinarian or to our weekly vaccination clinic to be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Ask the veterinarian to complete and sign the rabies information on the license application form, or attach a copy of your dog's rabies certificate, which will be returned to you. Licenses are valid only until the expiration of the rabies validation period.
  • For a 50% discount on the licensing fee, provide a certificate of neutering with the initial application.

Dogs over four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed. For the dog's protection, it must wear its license tag on a collar or harness at all times. If you acquire a dog, you have ten days in which to license it. New residents of the area should license their dogs within ten days. Licenses purchased after the deadline are subject to a late fee, in addition to the normal registration fee.

Licenses are not transferable from pet owner to pet owner, from pet to pet, or from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Cat Registration
Cat licenses are not required in Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills. Cats are adaptable and can be quite happy--and safe--living indoors. If you choose to allow your cat outdoor privileges, we recommend our five-year identification tag program. For only $10.00 ($5.00 if your cat is spayed or neutered), you can increase the odds of your lost or injured cat being returned to you. Rabies vaccinations are not required for cat registration, but are recommended for the health and protection of all pets.

How to License

  • By mail: complete a license application and send it with your payment (check, Visa or Mastercard), rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate if applicable to: Animal Services, 3281 E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303.
  • In person: bring the completed application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate to our office, Monday through Saturday, between 11am and 5:30pm, excluding holidays and alternate Fridays.
  • By FAX: Fax the application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate to 650-856-8591. Include your Mastercard or Visa number and card expiration date.

Dog License Fees
Duration of License      Unaltered - Altered 
12 months:                        $40.00 - $20.00 
24 months:                        $60.00 - $30.00 
36 months:                        $80.00 - $40.00
Late Penalty: $30.00
Replacement Tag: $5.00
Cat I.D. Tag: $5.00 - $10.00
(Prices effective 8/01/2012)

*Please Note: It is important to understand that the rabies tag you get from your vet is not a license. When you license your dog, you receive a separate license tag. An additional tag bearing a contact number for you is also a good idea. You should have both tags on your dog's collar, everyday.

A lost animal that bears some form of identification is far more likely to be returned to its owner. There are a couple ways to mark your pet so that someone who finds it can reach you or an agency that can contact you.

  • ID tags (including both license tags and tags bearing contact info for the owner)
  • Microchip ID's (subdermal implants)
    *See Microchipping your cat or dog.

Traveling out of town? Email us at and let us know! Give us the name of your petsitter or an alternate way to get in touch with you incase your pet gets loose while you're away!

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2016