On 1 October 2018 The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into effect and a licence from the local authority is required for any business which involves
- selling animals as pets
- providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
- hiring out horses
- breeding dogs
- keeping or training animals for exhibition
A person may not apply for a licence if they are disqualified from holding a licence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 or various other Acts involving animals, or if they have previously held a licence which was revoked. See Schedule 8 of the Regulations for further details of the disqualifications.
Application evaluation process
Applications must be submitted on the forms provided by the licensing authority and be accompanied by the required fee. Please see the schedule of fees for further information. The licensing authority will require plans to be submitted as part of the application process and will need to visit the premises before deciding whether or not to grant a licence.
A licence can be issued for 1, 2 or 3 years and the relevant conditions in Schedules 2 to 7 of the Regulations will be attached to any licence granted.
The following criteria, amongst others will be considered when the application is being evaluated:
- that animals will be kept in suitable accommodation, for example in regards to temperature, size, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
- adequate food and drink will be provided to the animals and they will be visited at suitable intervals
- that any mammalian animals will not be sold too young
- that steps are taken to prevent disease spreading among the animals
- that adequate sufficient competent staff are available to care for the animals.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have produced a range of guidance notes for licensing activities involving animals which are available here
- Apply for a licence to sell animals
- Apply for a licence to provide boarding for cats or dogs
- Apply for a licence to hire out horses
- Apply for a licence to keep or train animals for exhibition
Send your completed form, together with a plan of the premises, copies of any relevant qualifications and the application fee to the Licensing Team, address details can be found on the contact Licensing webpage.
Dangerous Wild Animals Licence
A licence is required to keep and house a dangerous wild animal under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The number of animals along with the type that may be accommodated will be specified on the licence along with other specific conditions. View the Regulations for a list of animals considered to be dangerous wild animals and for further details of the criteria to be satsfied before a licence can be granted
Applications must be submitted on the forms provided by the licensing authority and be accompanied by the required fee. The licensing authority may also require plans to be submitted as part of the application process and will need to visit the premises, along with a veterinary surgeon or practitioner, to establish whether the applicant and premises are suitable before deciding whether or not to grant a licence.
Send your completed form and the application fee to the Licensing Team, address details can be found on the contact Licensing webpage.
If you wish to operate a "zoo", where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public, you will require a licence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. Notice of your intended application must be given to the Council, and must be published at the site of the proposed zoo and in one local newspaper and one national newspaper at least 2 months before you submit your application.
The notice must include
- a)the kinds of animals listed in taxonomic category of Order and approximate number of each group kept or to be kept for exhibition on the premises and the arrangements for their accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing;
- (b)the approximate numbers and categories of staff employed or to be employed in the zoo;
- (c)the approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation is or is to be provided;
- (d)the approximate number and position of the means of access provided or to be provided to the premises.
and must also include details of how the conservation measures required under the Act will be implemented.
The Council can refuse to grant a licence on any number of grounds, including if the applicant, (or if the applicant is a company, the body, or any director, manager or secretary) or any person employed as a keeper in the zoo has been convicted of an offence involving the ill-treatment of animals under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, or any of the following Acts
- Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
- Pet Animals Act 1951
- Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964
- Protection of Animals (Scotland) Acts 1912 to 1964
- Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970
- Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
- Breeding of Dogs Act 1973
- Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976
- Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- Animals Welfare Act 2006
See the summary of regulation for further information.
Application evaluation process
Applications must be submitted on the forms provided by the licensing authority and be accompanied by the required fee. The licensing authority will require plans to be submitted as part of the application process and will need to visit the premises, along with a veterinary surgeon, before deciding whether or not to grant a licence.The licensing authority may also consult with relevant parties as part of the consideration of the application.
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 licensing authority within a reasonable period, please email the licensing team.
Licence holder redress
Appeals against the refusal of a licence under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 are to the First Tier Tribunal. Zoo Licensing appeals are to Westminster Magistrates' Court, 181 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5BR.
We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice Bureau will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
The council operates a complaints procedure. To view the complaints procedure or to make a complaint relating to the service you have received please see comments complaints, feedback.
If there is a concern about noise, pollution, or similar please contact the Council's Environmental Health Line on 020 7361 3002 or email [email protected]. If your complaint relates to an existing licensed premises or a premises is suspected of operating without the required permission please contact the Council's Licensing Team on 020 7341 5152 or email [email protected].
Trade associations and useful links
- DEFRA – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Pet Care Trust (PCT)
- Royal Society of the Protection of Animals (RSPCA)
- Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
- Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS)
- British Dressage
- British Equestrian Federation (BEF)
- British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA)
- The International Marine Animal Trainers' Association
- The Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain
Last updated: 27 February 2023