The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

New legislation relating to Animal Activity Licensing is now in force. Animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, pet shops, riding establishments and people that keep or train animals for exhibitions will now be covered under a single type of licence (known as an 'animal activity licence'), with new nationally-set licence conditions.

Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with new conditions that are listed below and will be assessed before the licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.

Those businesses who are already licenced under the previous licensing regime will continue to be licenced until their expiry date. We will be sending out letters to existing licence holders, containing information on how to apply for the new-style licences in early October 2018.

The effect of the new regulations is to replace some existing licensing regimes and to put in place a new licensing regime to control the following licensable activities:

• Selling animals as pets - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Selling Animals as Pets (PDF Document, 874.21 Kb)
• Providing daycare for dogs - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Providing Day Care for Dogs (PDF Document, 433.35 Kb)
• Providing boarding for cats - Guidance notes for Conditions for Providing Boarding for Cats (PDF Document, 1.18 Mb)
• Providing boarding in kennels for dogs - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Providing Boarding in Kennels for Dogs (PDF Document, 421.93 Kb)
• Providing home boarding for dogs - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Providing Home Boarding for Dogs (PDF Document, 568.69 Kb)
• Hiring out horses - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Hiring Out Horses (PDF Document, 464.28 Kb)
• Breeding dogs - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Breeding Dogs (PDF Document, 602.57 Kb)
• Keeping or training animals for exhibitions - Guidance Notes for Conditions for Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition (PDF Document, 619.85 Kb)

If you have a current licence under one of the above activities it will continue to be valid until it is due to expire. You will then need to apply for a licence under the new regulations. If your existing licence is due to expire before 1 October 2018 then you will need to apply to renew it under the existing laws; it will remain valid until it expires at which point you will need to apply for a new licence under the new regulations.

We will write to all current licence holders with licences which will shortly expire, to invite them to apply for a new licence. Ideally an application for a licence under the new regulations should be made no later than 10 weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for the application to be dealt with. When available a standard application form will be made available on our website.

Duration of licences

Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either 1, 2 or 3 years. During the inspection we will consider two main aspects:

• Firstly the welfare standards observed, which are based upon an assessment of a range of criteria, including records, staffing, the environment, diet, and the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', 'minimum standards' are achieved or 'higher standards' have been met.
• Secondly, the risk, which is largely based on the history of compliance of the business, and also upon the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.

The inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the licence duration and a star rating which will be given to a business.

Welfare Standards

Scoring Matrix Minor Failings Minimum Standards Higher Standards
Risk Low Risk

1 Star

(1-year licence)

3 Star

(2 year licence)

5 Star

(3 year licence)

Higher Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

2 Star

(1 year licence)

4 Star

(2 year licence)

Licence Conditions

The conditions which will be attached to licences are in Schedules 3 to 7 of the regulations and will depend on the licensable activities.
Riding Establishments will still be required to have all horses used under the act annually inspected by a local authority veterinary surgeon.

Fees & Applications

Animal Licensing fees can be found on pages 5-6 of the below document:

Sales, Fees and Charges 2023-24 (PDF Document, 738.62 Kb)

Vet fees are charged in addition to the fees shown

Dangerous Wild Animals and Zoos

The new regulations do not have any impact upon licences issued under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Exhibiting Animals

Animals kept for training and exhibition will now be licensed by the local authority.

Please note: where an application is withdrawn or refused the Council reserves the right to levy a reasonable and proportionate administration fee to cover the costs of processing up to the point of withdrawal or refusal. Where a licence is suspended or revoked, there will be no reimbursement of the application fee.

Last updated: Thursday, 1 June 2023 8:54 am