Animal Activities Licence

Animal welfare

Licenses for the following activities will be needed when carried out as a business:

  • selling animals as pets
  • boarding for cats or dogs (cattery/kennels) or arranging for the provision of boarding of cats or dogs
  • home Boarding for dogs (including day care for dogs in a home environment)
  • day care for dogs (commercial creche)
  • breeding of dogs
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition
  • hiring out horses.

The new licenses are known as an 'animal activity licence', with new nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.

We cannot change these conditions as they are already set in the legislation. 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.

Minimum standards specific to the activity being carried out will need to be met prior to a licence being issued.  Where higher standards are met, a longer term licence will be issued which will save licensing fees for applicants who achieve and maintain high standards.

The minimum term of a licence will be one year. Where Higher Standards are achieved a two or three year licence will be granted.

All new applications will be rated following their initial inspection. 


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 itself will also be assessed so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the new laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept. Based on the information, we will assess the risk rating and award stars. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars, and premises that 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 will be assessed as higher risk because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.

If customers have any concerns, please contact the Licensing Team prior to making a purchase or making booking arrangements.

Public Register

Once the Animal Activity Licence has been granted, the premises is listed on a public register, a copy of which is available below.

Licensing Register

Licence to keep or train animals for exhibition

If you are currently registered under the Performing Animals Act 1925 you have until 1 April 2019 to apply for a licence to keep or train animals for exhibition. If you're not registered you'll need to apply for a licence immediately.


Before your inspection we would recommend that you carry out your own audit using the appropriate inspection form below so that you can identify any improvements you need to make ahead of your inspection. 

 Boarding in kennels for dogs inspection proforma [PDF, 634KB]

 Breeding dogs inspection proforma [PDF, 863KB]

 Cat boarding inspection proforma [PDF, 664KB]

 Day care dogs inspection proforma [PDF, 282KB]

 Hiring out horses inspection proforma [PDF, 663KB]

 Keeping or training animals for exhibition inspection proforma [PDF, 786KB]

 Selling animals as pets inspection proforma [PDF, 825KB]

 Risk Scoring Form [PDF, 527KB]


Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted.  If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please email

Animal Activities Licence

To report an unlicensed activity please email

Animal licensing questions and answers

1. Will I need a licence?

If you are running a business which makes a profit for animal boarding, breeding, exhibiting animals, horse riding or selling animals, you will require a licence.

2. What is classed as a business?

If you make any sale or carry out the activity with a view to making a profit then you would qualify as a business and therefore you would need a licence. You would also be subject to licensing if you meet any of the following criteria.

  • anyone advertising a business
  • number, frequency and volume of sales - systematic and repeated transactions would indicate a business
  • high volumes of animals or services sold/advertised
  • low number of adverts but high prices/large profit margins
  • high numbers of adverts.

3. My dog has one litter of puppies each year, will this still require a licence?

See above answer. If you qualify as business (i.e. high sale prices) then you would need a licence regardless of the number of litters. For example, if you have a trading income of more than £1000 each year, you will require a licence.

A dog breeding licence is also required if you breed three or more litters per year and sell any of the puppies - this applies regardless if you are a business or not.

4. How do I get a licence?

Once an application has been submitted to the local council, we will arrange to carry out an inspection of your premises. The inspector will be looking at the welfare of the animals and how this is maintained through the business practices. The inspector will ask to see all paperwork setting out the business policies, procedures and staff training and will want to see the animals and their living environment.

5. How long will the inspection take?

It is anticipated that the inspection will take between one to two hours.

6. Who carries out the inspection?

An experienced local authority officer will carry out the inspections. For horse riding and dog breeding the local authority officer will be accompanied by a vet. This will incur an additional fee.

7. How long will my licence last?

A licence to exhibit animals will be granted for three years. All other licences will be granted with a licence for one to three years depending on the star rating awarded after inspection.

8. How is the star rating derived?

The inspecting officer will carry out a risk rating of the business based on compliance history, the applicant's knowledge of the animals in their care and their ability to demonstrate their practices and staff training. The inspector will be looking at animals and their living environment giving consideration to the conditions issued by DEFRA. The overall score will determine the star rating and the length of the licence.

9. What happens if I don't agree with the star rating?

You can submit a written appeal within 21 days of the rating being issued to the licensing authority and request a re-inspection. Any re-inspection will be at the cost to the applicant. Businesses disputing their star rating are encouraged to discuss this informally with the inspecting officer first so that there is an opportunity to help explain to the business how the rating was worked out.

10. How many times can I ask for my business to be re-rated?

There is no limit to the number of re-inspections, however there will be a charge for each inspection. You will need to submit the request in writing and detail what actions you have taken to improve the level of compliance or the standard of welfare for the animals since the previous inspection.

11. Do the local authority have to accept my request for a re-inspection?

No. If there is no evidence provided or the case made by the business is unsubstantiated, the local authority can refuse.

12. If I submit a request for a re-inspection, will I get a higher star rating?

Not necessarily. If standards have fallen since the previous inspection, a lower rating may be given.

13. Under the new Act, how many dogs will I be allowed to board?

Each dog must be able to have its own designated room. This must be a proper room with its own window. Dogs from the same household will also need to have a room each.

14. If I run a multiple business looking after dogs e.g. dog walking and home boarding how many dogs am I allowed to walk?

The new legislation stipulates that no more than four dogs can be walked by one person at a time for home boarding. If you also have a dog walking business, you will need to walk these dogs at a different time.

15. Can I use a bedroom for home boarding?

Yes. Bedrooms can be used, as long as they are not occupied by children under the age of 16. The room must have enough space for the dog to move around freely.

16. I have children at home can I still apply for a licence?

Yes. The applicant will need to consider the safety of both the animals and the children in the house. The applicant will need to provide a written risk assessment.

17. Should business with low star rating be avoided?

No not necessarily. There are many factors to take into consideration when rating a business; for instance a new business with no history will initially be considered high risk and therefore unable to attain the highest rating.

18. How will people know what star rating I have?

Your star rating will appear on your licence. This must be displayed in a prominent place in the premises. The local authority will also have a public register online listing all licenced business and their most recent rating.

19. Will I require Planning Permission?

Ensure that you have, or do not need, planning permission for your activity.

If you are required to undertake construction work to house your animals then it is likely that you will need planning permission.

Most domestic properties have planning permission for residential purposes i.e. you have a home which is intended for people to live in.

Having a dog is regarded as incidental to your use of the home. However, if you have so many dogs that it is regarded that the nature of your home has changed to being a home for dogs rather than people then the council may require you to apply for planning permission for a change of use.

There is no statutory maximum number of dogs that you may have, as it will depend on the size of your home and the size of the dogs, but the Planning Department use six dogs as their 'rule of thumb' maximum. However, this should not be regarded as the most you may have, as in  your particular circumstances, a smaller number may be appropriate.

If you apply for a change of use, there is no guarantee that it will be granted.