How Do I Register My Dog in Chicago?

November 29, 2021


It may surprise new pet parents to learn that you need to register your pet with the city. Owning a pet can come with more paperwork than you expect, but with some help from our walker Nate, we’ll help dispel fears around how to get the documents your pet needs to become a true Chicago citizen! 

How do I License My Dog in Chicago?

If your dog is over four months old, they need to get registered in the city of Chicago. Owners who come in from out of state have a 30-day grace period to acquire a license. 

Luckily, you don’t have to make a day of heading to a veritable dog DMV to get registration. An in-person meeting gets you same-day service, but the easiest way is to register online! Head to the Office of the City Clerk’s EZ-buy page, create a profile, and you can get your pet registered in minutes. All you need for registration is your driver’s license/state ID and your dog’s vaccination number. Once you register online, your new documents will arrive in 7-10 business days. 

Registering your pet is a way to keep them safe in the event they get lost. Once registered, the pet’s state registration number will be on their tags. If they got lost, a potential good Samaritan would call the city helpline (312-744-DOGS, naturally) to help reunite them with their owner. When combined with getting a microchip, registration means twice the security for your pet. 

What happens if you don’t register? Well, registering your dog isn’t just for public records or emergencies. It also enables you to get access permits for public dog parks and professional pet services like daycares and shelters. And at the end of the day, registering your pet is simply city law—without it, you could risk getting a citation up to $200 per day!  

Chicago Licensing Prerequisite: Vaccination

To register your pet with the city, you will need your dog’s vaccination records. When registering online or in person, you will need your vaccination number, county, and expiration date on hand. 

If you’re raising a puppy, they should have their first rounds of vaccinations done by the 16-week mark. Most adopted pets will have vaccinations provided by the shelter or breeder for free. 

Check-in with them what vaccinations your dog has, since non-core vaccines (vaccines for anything beyond rabies, distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus) will change depending on your dog’s health and local exposure risks.

If you need to get your dog vaccinated, inquire with your vet. If you need a low-cost option, animal welfare organizations such as the Anti-Cruelty Society, PAWS Chicago, and the Treehouse Humane Society offer lower-cost services for vaccinations, sterilization, and microchipping. 

Wait—why are unsterilized dogs more expensive to register in Chicago?

When you look at the pricing for Chicago dog permits, you will notice that costs differ depending on if your pet is sterilized. A sterilized dog is only $5 or $15 to register, while unsterilized pets are a whopping $50 or $150! 

According to the City of Chicago, the reason for this is to incentivize spay-neutering to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Unsterilized dogs have far more offspring, many of which end up homeless and potentially euthanized. Unsterilized male dogs, in particular, are more likely to run away or get into fights with other dogs.  

If your dog is not yet sterilized before registering with the city, consult your vet if they are ready for surgery. Most dogs undergo the operation at nine months, but as early as eight weeks can be feasible if your dog is healthy. 

Chicago Off-Leash Park Permits

Another benefit of registering your pet in Chicago is accessing permits for public off-leash dog parks! Check out our past article on this subject for more information.


Thank you, Nathaniel, for that information on registering your pet in Chicago! Windy City Paws is a Fear Free Chicago dog walker and petsitter committed to providing helpful information to Chicago dog owners through its blog.