1) All animal identification devices (including readers) are tested and certified for use by ICAR, International Committee for Animal Recording, Italy.
2) ICAR assigns two types of codes: Shared and Unshared Manufacturer codes to products that are tested - what criteria decides who gets what? - Sales Volume and not the quality of the product - every manufacturer is expected to apply for a test (full conformance test - EUR 4600 (approx - 5400 USD). Upon successful completion of the test and approval by ICAR, the manufacturer is assigned a shared manufacturer ICAR code of 900 with the assignment of 1 million codes (IDs). ICAR publishes the results on it's website. The product is assigned a unique product ID and also the range of one million codes unduplicated and for exclusive use by the manufacturer.
Who gets the unshared manufacturer code?
Until the manufacturer sells 1 million microchips (of the kind that was certified and assigned 1 million unique IDs) per year for two consecutive years, he or she will use the shared code. So that is two million in two years. Once the manufacturer reaches this milestone, he/she applies for an unshared ICAR code, randomly selected by ICAR within the range of 901-998. The company will have to provide sales records certified by an external auditor or notary public to meet the requirement as well.
If at any point, additional range of codes is required by the company - you may simply apply and request for a new set of one million codes at no charge.
Why apply for an ICAR code?
Adherence to ICAR rules. ICAR strictly prohibits sale of microchips manufactured by Company A and sold under Company B's name - unless Company B has its own unique product ID. To obtain this, Company B has to apply for the test, receive approval from ICAR, get a unique product ID and a set of unduplicated one million codes. ICAR requires company B to deliver the original test report and a written confirmation from the ICAR registered manufacturer that had originally submitted the product under question for certification (here the manufacturer is our prime supplier who already has an ICAR certification (unshared code)). This is the case if Company B wants to sell Company's A product under their name.
Why not use an already existing shared code manufacturer's product?
There are many clients to this so called shared manufacturer. The same can apply to an unshared manufacturer too, but with less complexity. Let's consider an example: Company X, Company Y and Company Peeva are clients of the shared manufacturer W (let's assume none of these companies are ICAR certified except the shared manufacturer). All the companies will have the microchip (let's assume same size, same product, same everything for now) under the code 900 (universally unique for all shared manufacturers). So, Peeva's microchip will be part of this large pool of microchips.
Now consider this scenario, say you work at a vet hospital. A new animal patient comes in and is scanned. In order to locate the pet owner, you need to know which database the microchip is registered to. This also assumes you know why the AAHA Universal Microchip Lookup Tool is far from comprehensive. So what can you do to get the details? If you are proactive enough you will look up the first three codes - to identify if the manufacturer is a shared or unshared (ref: ICAR website). Let's assume an unshared code of 991. If it is an unshared manufacturer - things become easier as we just have to input the 15 digit code to pull out the records. The code structure can be as follows - 991.abc.000.000.000 - 991.abc.000.999.999. This necessarily may not be the case. Other companies in the market may have illegally white labelled an unshared manufacturer's product (such practice is prevalent in the market) or the unshared manufacturer may not have a database.
Now what if the code is shared? - The process is longer- I will have to identify the product from a large pool of shared code manufacturers. How will I do this? Skip the first three digits (900 as it is unique to all shared code manufacturers) - look up the manufacturer based on the next three digits. As mentioned earlier, every shared manufacturer gets a unique set of one million codes, example: 900.yzx.000.000.000 - 900.yzx.000.999.999. Note that the code is 15 digits in count. Once I know the next three digits (following 900) I can tell who is the manufacturer. Say the range belongs to Peeva after I identify yzx (if certified by ICAR only) - I can enter the 15 digit ID in Peeva's database to pull out the records.
Again, it is possible for illegal white labeling of this product or the manufacturer to not maintain its database.
Code Lookup: manually on ICAR website (link provided below)
Now back to the first scenario, where three companies X, Y and Peeva (none with ICAR certification) are clients of manufacturer W. Each company get's assigned a range of unique IDs by the manufacturer W, (whether it be shared or unshared) from its own set of one million codes. Now, in this case the process becomes even longer. I have to lookup the manufacturer - shared code or unshared code. If unshared code, I know the manufacturer by identifying the first three digits (ex:991). Now since there are three companies with the 991 on their products (clients of manufacturer W), I do not know who's chip it is, I do not know who maintains a database. If the manufacturer W does, then great. If the manufacturer W does not have a database, I will have to contact the manufacturer requesting details of their clients by supplying them the ID (15 digit code). The manufacturer W will then look up in it's client database as to what range did companies X, Y and Peeva get. Upon identification, he or she passes on that information to me and I try to locate the company's database. If they have one, I can pull up the records. Otherwise, I discard the chip information and classify it is as unauthorized or unavailable.
If the above is applied to a shared code manufacturer (assuming W is a shared code manufacturer with code 900), I will lookup the shared code manufacturers and identify the next three digits of the 15 digit code. The process is repeated again. I may or may not successful in pulling up the records.
At the end of the day, you will be that person, frustrated and lost in a jungle of numbers.
Can we not get the microchips from a shared manufacturer and get them tested and apply for ICAR using that?
Absolutely. ICAR's allocation strategy of ICAR codes depends on sales volume, which means that a shared manufacturer may be the original manufacturer or may be procuring the product in large quantities from another manufacturer(shared or unshared) and then white labelling them as its products - this is possible and is also prevalent (in short: not original manufacturers - just like Peeva)
An unshared code manufacturer may mean it has been a key player in the market for long. Although not necessarily true. The world is a corrupt place, I can falsify my sales records for two years and get the ICAR unshared code.
What is the advantage of applying to ICAR?
a) We are not breaking the rules - illegally white labelling ICAR certified products and selling them in the market is not entertained by ICAR and we definitely do not want to fall into hot water, later. We can legally do so by getting our own ICAR code.
b) We are getting one million codes exclusively for our usage - this entirely depends on the confidence in and scaling up the sales volume gradually over the year. In the worst case, we may end up having a unused codes passed over to the next year.
c) Our clients will see the company's name listed on the ICAR website with details of the product, product code and code range assigned (only while in shared code status). You may please check the link to see the same for other companies :
d) We are solely responsible for maintaining the database of the millions of codes and the codes to follow in future.