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Animal welfare (licensing of activities involving animals) (England) regulations 2018

What activities need a licence?

New legislation for animal businesses came into effect on 1 October 2018. Under the new law activities which are licensable include:

  • animal boarding businesses for cats and dogs (including home boarders and dog day care)
  • dog breeding
  • selling animals as pets
  • hiring out of horses
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

These activities will now be covered by a single licence known as an "animal activity licence"

Applying for a licence

Businesses operating with these activities must apply for a licence at least ten weeks before starting. This also applies to existing businesses wishing to renew. If a person has been disqualified under the following legislation they may not apply for a licence in respect of any licensable activity:

  • Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
  • Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
  • Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983
  • Dangerous Wild Animal Act 1976
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
  • Riding Establishments Act 1964
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • Pet Animals Act 1951
  • Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954
  • Performing Animal (Regulation) Act 1925
  • Protection of Animals Act 1911

In addition the following people cannot apply:

  • A person who at any time held a licence revoked under regulation 15 of The Animal Welfare Act (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018
  • A person who at any time held a licence revoked under Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulation 2014
  • A person who at any time held a licence revoked under Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012
  • A person who at any time held a licence revoked under Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010

How to apply

To apply or renew an animal licence you should complete the Animal Welfare Act 2018 Application Form309.88KB and pay the relevant fee.

The fees will vary depending on the activity and in some cases an inspection by a vet will be needed and these costs must be met by the applicant.

Licence fees
Commercial Boarder, Cattery, Dog Day Care£201.50£59.50£201.50
Home Boarder/Home Dog Day Care£140.50£59.50£140.50
Hiring out Horses (Riding Establishment)£127.50 (plus vet fee)£59.50£127.50 (plus vet fee)
Selling Animals as Pets (Pet Shop)£124.50£59.50£105
Dog Breeder£140.50 (plus vet fee)£59.50£140.50 (plus vet fee)
Exhibition of Animals£140.50£59.50£140.50


You can find the conditions for each activity and further guidance on complying with the conditions at GOV.UK: Animal licensing guidance

What to expect once you have applied

You will be contacted to discuss your application and the site of the activity will be inspected by the Council and when required a vet.

An assessment will be made on the likelihood of your business meeting the licence conditions.

A risk rating will also be made based on the following:

  • Past compliance
  • Meeting minimum standards
  • Meeting higher standards
  • Consideration of whether the business is low or high risk

All premises will receive an Animal Activity Star Rating. Low risk premises can be awarded up to 5 stars and higher risk premises can be awarded up to 4 stars. Please note premises with a lower star rating are not necessarily to be avoided as other factors have to be considered such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. The licence and star rating should be clearly displayed on the premises after issue.

If customers have any concerns regarding a business please contact the Licensing team on or 0191 424 7695 before purchasing an animal or making a booking.

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