Licensing & Identification

Why? Simply put, its the law.

  • California law and city ordinances require all dogs over the age of four months to be vaccinated and licensed. If you are cited for owning an unlicensed dog, you could face fines of $50-$150 per dog. Also if your pet is becomes lost, a license tag on your pet's collar is the fastest way to reunite you and your pet. Even if a pet has a microchip, a license tag is immediately visible and doesn't require a scanner.
  • A rabies tag which may be provided by your veterinarian is separate from a license tag. The issuer of the rabies tag cannot license your pet. It is your responsibility to license their pet with Palo Alto Animal Services or your local Animal Control provider.
  • The fee you pay for your pet license keeps your City's animal services programs going. It is a significant source of revenue for Animal Control and allows us to provide animal related services to the residents of Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills. Licensing your pet helps us to find new homes for unclaimed or surrendered pets, keep neighborhoods safe from aggressive animals and provides funding for our low cost spay and neuter and vaccine clinic.

Many people living in countries without rabies control die each year from contracting this disease. Rabies is almost always fatal. Every State in the union requires their counties and cities to protect their citizens from contracting rabies by mandating that every owned dogs (and sometimes cats) be given a rabies vaccination.  The only way for cities to avoid being in violation of this State mandate is to require their citizens to vaccinate their pets. Cities have no way of obtaining proof that their residents have complied with the law unless they have a record. In order to obtain a record, cities must require residents to license their pets with the caveat being they cannot license their pet without first supplying proof of rabies. The City of Palo Alto can then ensure that all dogs licensed in their jurisdiction have proof of rabies and are in compliance with the State Rabies Mandate. (See State of California H&S Code 121690, CCR Title 17 Section 2606.4, Palo Alto Muni Code 6.16.010, Los Altos Muni Code 5.12.010, and Los Altos Hills Muni Code 6-1.511)

Licensing is Easy! A current rabies certificate is REQUIRED to obtain a license. And proof of spay or neuter will reduce the license fee.

DOWNLOAD: Dog License Application Form

  • By mail: complete a license application and send it with your payment (check, Visa, MasterCard, American Express), 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 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., excluding holidays and alternate Fridays.
  • By FAX: Fax the application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate to 650-856-8591. Include your Mastercard, Visa, American Express number and card expiration date.
  • By email: Complete and scan a license application and send it with your credit card number (Visa, MasterCard, American Express), rabies certificate and spay/neuter certificate if applicable to:

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)

*If your Veterinarian has deemed receiving the rabies vaccine a health hazard for your dog, you may file for an exception from the rabies vaccine under State of California H&S Code 121690 to still obtain a dog license, which is still required.

DOWNLOAD: Rabies Vaccination Exemption Form

Dog pass away? We are very sorry for your loss, and understand the passing of a loved pet is hard. We offer several types of disposal services including cremation regardless of residency. Also, if you have a pet licensed with us, please notify our office as soon as possible so we can amend our records! We will be sending you renewal notices, and failure update us in a timely manner may result in a citation. Call us at 650-496-5971 for assistance.

Move out of town, change address, of give a dog away? Please let us know so we can update/cancel your license. Failure to do so may result in you not receiving the license renewal notices, and a citation for non-compliance may be issued.

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.

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 (sub dermal implants)
    *See Microchipping your cat or dog.

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.

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