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Animal welfare (licensing of activities involving animals)

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 regulate the following activities:

  • Selling animals as pets (including wholesalers)
  • Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs (including dog home-boarding / day care)
  • Hiring out horses (for riding or instruction in riding)
  • Breeding dogs
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Those falling within scope of the regulations who wish to operate any of the above activities must apply for and be granted a licence by the relevant local authority. This is prior to carrying out the activity.

We will refuse a licence to individuals who do not meet the regulation requirements. We as the licensing authority are unable to make exceptions or amend conditions.

Apply for a licence

We require applicants to:

  • Complete and submit an application with the required fee and a plan of the premises
  • Produce required documentation such as policies, procedures, risk assessments, record keeping etc to demonstrate competency and compliance with the conditions of the licence to protect and promote animal health and welfare

The regulations place standard sets of conditions to licences issued:

  • A set of general conditions that apply to all licences and
  • A set of specific conditions that apply to the specific animal activity

An authorised officer inspects all premises prior to determination of an application. Our appointed vet will also inspect new (grant) dog breeding applications and all hiring out horse premises prior to grant and annually thereafter.

Apart from licences for the activity of keeping or training animals for exhibition, we can grant licences for one to three years. They can have a star rating of one to five stars. The duration and star rating depend on meeting certain standards set by the regulations (minimum and higher) and risk assessment. New applicants that do not have a compliance history with a local authority or a UKAS accredited body are automatically considered higher risk.


You should discuss appeals against a star rating with the Inspecting Officer. If it remains unresolved, you have 21 days from the date of issue of the licence to appeal the rating to the Licensing Manager.


Licence holders who have made improvements to their business after we issued the licence and wish us to re-assess their star rating should apply for a re-inspection and pay the required fee.

Licence conditions

Operators must demonstrate continued compliance with all conditions applicable to the activities they carry out and maintain and retain record keeping for three years. Authorised officers carry out interim inspections during the term of the licence to ensure compliance.

Licence renewals

Licence holders must send in a renewal application at least ten weeks prior to expiry of their current licence. We send licence renewal reminders to licence holders three months prior to expiry.

We will take appropriate enforcement action against individuals who carry out an animal licensable activity without the required licence in place. We cannot grant licences to individuals who are disqualified from holding a licence or have previously had one revoked.

Regulations and guidance

The regulations are conferred by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. They aim to protect the needs and welfare of animals. DEFRA has produced guidance documents which the Licensing Authority must have regard to when carrying out its functions under the regulations. This guidance receives regular reviews and updates to ensure continued promotion of animal health and welfare standards.

Operators are required to ensure that they keep up to date with any changes in legislation to ensure continued compliance.

Find information on the animal activities licensing: statutory guidance for local authorities on the GOV.UK website.

We will work with premises, but can only issue licenses in accordance with the regulations and with due regard to government guidance.

There is a separate application process for Dangerous Wild Animals Licences and Zoo Licences.

Licence fees

Animal Welfare Act 2006

The First Grant Application Fee Part A applies to all new and existing licence holder applications. This fee must accompany the application.

The fee payable on Grant Part B will be invoiced to the applicant, plus vet fees where applicable. This is dependent on the duration of licence issued and must be paid prior to release / issue of the licence.

Licence Activity Type First Grant Application Fee Part A Renewal Application Fee Part A Grant Fee 1 Year Licence Part B Grant Fee 2 Year Licence Part B Grant Fee 3 Year Licence Part B Full Re-Inspection / Variation Fee
Selling Animals as Pets £348 + vet fee if DWA on site £252 + vet fee if DWA on site  £306 £396 £487 £211 + vet fee if DWA on site 
Provision or arranging for the provision of boarding (franchisor) with out of scope host families £462 £312 £348 £444 £534 £270
Commercial operation One animal type: catteries or kennels, including commercial dog day care £330 £235 £306 £396 £487 £211
Commercial operation Two animal activity types: e.g. kennels with catteries £462 £312 £348 £444 £534 £270
Home activities - boarding / day care £198 £150 £204 £282 £360 £134
Hiring out horses plus annual vet's inspection fee £336 + vet fees £240 + vet fees £313 + vet fees £408 + vet fees £504 + vet fees £204 + vet fee if applicable
Breeding dogs plus vet fees for new grant application £336 + vet fees £235 £306 £444 £487 £204 + vet fee if applicable
Keeping or training animals for exhibition £198 £150 Not applicable  Not applicable  £360 £136 

*If a variation is minor, then a fee of £25 may be applied.