Animal welfare licences

Animal activity license

New laws relating to Animal Activity Licensing are 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.

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Licence Conditions

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

Those businesses operating under current licences will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence. Current holders of animal boarding and pet shop licences, and any other operator whose licences expire up to December 2018, should apply as soon as possible before their expiry date to ensure they receive their new licences in good time.

The new licence conditions for each of the animal activities covered are set out below:

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The fees set will be reviewed on an annual basis. The application fee is payable at the application stage. The licence fee is payable if the licence is granted. Fees are payable through BACS or phone payment.

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Guidance Notes

To assist applicants, guidance notes for each of the licensable activities is available The guidance explains the conditions that businesses need to meet in order to receive an animal activities licence.

This guidance covers:

  • dog breeding
  • pet selling
  • hiring out horses
  • boarding for dogs and cats
  • home boarding for dogs
  • dog day care
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition 

These contain further information on what will be required to meet the conditions. They also provide advice as to what steps applicants can take to possibly achieve a higher star rating.

Once a completed application and payment has been received, we will examine the information provided, then contact applicants to arrange an inspection.

We recommend that applicants check they have the correct permissions to use their property or premises for the business applied for. For example, there are restrictions on running businesses in domestic Council properties.

The guidance documents for each activity can be found at the following link:


All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • A specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
  • Comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities.
  • An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
  • Training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.

The premises will also be assessed to ensure the licence holder can meet the new laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept. Based on the application, and the information provided at the inspection, we will assess the risk rating and award stars using a scoring method created by DEFRA, which is a requirement under the new scheme.

Low-risk premises can achieve up to five stars, and premises which have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection.

Premises with lower star ratings

A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating.

New businesses are likely to be assessed as slightly higher risk as there is no history of good practice that can be considered. As previously stated, the scoring method created by DEFRA is one we must use to comply with Government requirements, and the ratings given should not be seen as a recommendation by the Council. 

If customers have any concerns, please contact the Environmental Health Team.

Public Register

We maintain a public register of all the animal activity licences we have granted with details of the premises and its star rating.  If a business does not appear on this register please contact the animal licensing department

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Contact animal welfare