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Regulating animal licensing

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 has changed the way animal licensing is regulated.

A single type of licence, known as an “Animal Activity Licence” with nationally-set conditions will now apply.

The businesses that this licence will affect are:

  • animal boarding (kennels, catteries, dog home boarding and dog day care providers)
  • dog breeders
  • pet shops
  • riding establishments
  • those keeping or training animals for the purpose of exhibition, encounters or performance.

The definition of existing licensable activities now includes activities arranged on the Internet, such as the sale of animals as pets.

Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before a licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.

All premises will be inspected before a licence is granted to ensure that all licence conditions can be met. We will also be looking to ensure that the applicant demonstrates the following:

  • Specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This includes 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.

Based on the information, we will assess the premises, carry out a risk rating and award a star rating. 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.

Does tacit consent apply if I do not hear anything within 28 days?

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


A full list of fees relating to animal licensing is available on the Environmental Health Fees and Charges page.

Guidance notes


You will not get a licence if you’ve committed an animal welfare offence or if you’ve been banned from:

  • hiring out horses
  • selling pets
  • boarding cats or dogs
  • breeding dogs
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

Fines and penalties

You may be fined an unlimited amount or imprisoned for up to 6 months if you provide or arrange boarding for cats or dogs without a licence or do not follow the conditions of your licence.

Your licence can be taken away if you stop or delay an inspection, and you could be banned from running an animal boarding establishment.

If you need any more information please email