Animal Licensing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

All on site inspections of premises for animal activities licences have been suspended until further notice.

Latest Guidance

The latest guidance for pet businesses can be found on the Canine and Feline Sector Group website.

Animal Licensing Regulations

From 1st October 2018 the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force.

These regulations replaced a number of existing pieces of legislation repealed at the end of 2018, providing a new single licensing regime for a number of animal licensing activities.

The following activities now need to be licensed under the new regime:

  • Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs (including home boarding and day care)
  • Selling animals as pets
  • Hiring out horses
  • Breeding dogs
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition

The regulations set nationally applicable conditions that licence holders must comply with. A ratings system has been introduced whereby licence holders will be given a rating dependent on specific criteria set out within the licencing conditions. Existing licence holders were advised to review their compliance with the new conditions. 

Subject to the local authority being satisfied that the business will meet at least the minimum standards set by The Animal Welfare (Licencing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, premises will be awarded a star-rating of between 1 and 5 stars (this does not apply to the Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition).  The star-rating achieved will depend on how well the business complies with the licence conditions set out in the Regulations and their risk-rating.  The licence will be issued for a period of either 1, 2 or 3 years, depending on the star-rating achieved.  A new licence will only be granted if all of the minimum standards have been met (there must be no minor failings).  Further information about the star-ratings can be viewed here.

Licence fees can be viewed here

The new legislation does not affect the following licences:

  • Zoo Licences (under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981)
  • Dangerous Wild Animal Licences (under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976).

The new legislation affects those who previously held the following types of licence:

  • Animal Boarding Establishment Licence (under the Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963)
  • Dog Breeding Licence (under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 & 1991; Breeding & Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999)
  • Riding Establishment Licence (under the Riding Establishments Act 1964 & 1970)
  • Pet Shop Licence (under the Pet Animals Act 1951) 
  • Keeping or training of animals for exhibition (under the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925)

Businesses operating under any of the above existing licences will be able to continue to trade until the expiry date of their current licence. All applications to renew licences will be under the new legislation. 

The new licence will be known as an 'Animal Activity Licence' and will include nationally set licence conditions for businesses providing animal related services.

Information and paperwork regarding the new licence application process was sent to all existing licensed businesses prior to the expiry of their current licence. 

The regulations can be found by visiting The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

Once the application has been received, the information provided will be examined and then arrangements will be made to visit the premises to carry out an inspection by the Licensing Officers and the Council’s veterinary consultant, if appropriate. All businesses engaged in providing animal related services will need to comply with the new licence conditions. The new legislation will also require that an assessment will be undertaken of any premises providing animal related services for financial gain, before a licence is granted.

Animal Activity Licence conditions

The supporting guidance for each activity is available below. 

Boarding Dogs - Kennels

Boarding Cats - Catteries

Home Boarding of Dogs

Dog Day Care

Selling Animals as Pets

Dog Breeding

Hiring out of Horses

Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition

It is important that Licence holders understand the guidance relevant to their business.

Procedural guidance notes for local authorities

The Procedural guidance notes for local authorities is guidance for local authorities who need to licence activities involving animals and the relevant establishments. The guidance can also be used by those who currently have a licence or wish to apply for one.

What happens next?

From 1 October 2018 we wrote to all businesses currently holding an animal activities licence who may be affected by the changes, to explain what the changes mean to them, how to apply and what will be involved in terms of the application process and inspections under the new legislation, ready for the expiry of their existing licence.

If you sell animals as pets you must be licenced.  This includes anyone who sells animals or pets in any type of premises (including a private home).  Pet shops that only sell food or animal equipment do not need a licence.

To see a copy of the Pet Animals Act 1951 please see the National Archives website


Licensed premises are subject to inspection and the conditions applied to the licence ensure that animals are kept in suitable conditions.  If you would like information on how to apply for a licence click on the links below:

Animal Movement Licensing

In the event of a disease outbreak the precise location of all livestock is essential for effective measures to control and eradicate highly contagious viruses. To try and stop the spread of disease there are strict rules controlling the identification and movements of livestock. These rules apply even if you only keep one animal of the species covered.  For information on the Licensing of Animal Movements please use the links on the right of this page.

Who should I contact?

Environmental Health Services
88-90 Pier Avenue
CO15 1TN
Telephone: 01255 686767 

Government advice about animal welfare

Last updated on: 23/09/2020 - 16:04