Changes to Animal Licensing

In April 2018 the Government introduced new legislation to control the licensing of activities involving animals. The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 replaces a number of pieces of legislation that previously covered the licensing of animals, but it also widens the range of activities that will now require a licence. Licensable activities include:

  • Selling animals as pets
  • Providing day care for dogs
  • Providing boarding in kennels for dogs
  • Providing home boarding for dogs
  • Providing boarding for cats
  • Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
  • Hiring out horses
  • Breeding dogs
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibitions

The regulations came into force on the 1 October 2018; however, if you have been licensed before with the local authority, you will stay licensed until the licence runs out.

We will write to you (no later than) 3 months before this date to remind you of the need to re-licence your activity. 

You must apply no later than 10 weeks before the end of your licence if you intend to continue to be licensed. Any late applications will be treated as a new application and not as a renewal.


You can apply for a new licence or a renewal by completing an application form and sending it to us along with the correct fee.

Icon for word Animal Welfare Licence application form [110.19KB]

Inspection of premises

Once an application is made it will be necessary for us to come to visit your premises to carry out an inspection and a risk rating for the activity. The risk rating is used to decide on the length of the licence.

Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either 1, 2 or 3 years. During inspection we will consider two main aspects:

Firstly, the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including records; staffing; the environment; diet, and the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. The inspection findings will decide whether there are 'minor failings', 'minimum standards' are achieved or 'higher standards' have been met.

Secondly, the risk, which is largely based on the history of compliance of the business, and also upon the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. You will be given either a 'low' or 'higher' risk rating following the assessment.


Scoring Matrix

Welfare Standards

Minor Failings

Minimum standards

Higher standards


Low Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

3 Star

(2 year licence)

5 Star

(3 year licence)

Higher Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

2 Star

(1 year licence)

4 Star

(2 year licence)


Before your inspection

Before one of our officers visits you to carry out your inspection you may want to use the forms on this webpage to check you meet all the required conditions, and have all the paperwork we require to issue your licence.

Licensing Conditions

Previously the Council has used national guidance to set licence conditions, however now it will be necessary for a licence holder to meet those laid out in the legislation. If an inspector does not feel confident that you are able to meet the minimum standards then the Council will be unable to grant you a licence.

The standard conditions and optional standards can be found in the statutory guidance for each licensable activity these can be found here.

The biggest change to conditions will likely effect the dog home boarding community the greatest. If you are a home boarder please read the guidance carefully to make sure you can comply with the conditions.  The picture below may help to guide you on the requirements but is not exhaustive.

Home boarding


For fees please see the licensing fees page.

If a vet inspection is required, you will be charged the actual cost of the vet inspection fee.

New Animal Licences

If you have not been previously licensed but believe that due to the changes in legislation that you might need to be licensed then please look at the guidance notes to make sure, these can be found here.

If you require a licence for the activity that you are operating then please make an application as soon as possible. Failure to have a licence to cover a licensable activity is a criminal offence.

We have published the details of licensed premises on a register at the top right hand corner of this page to make it easier for people to check whether a pet vendor, boarder or other types of establishment are licensed.

Dangerous Wild Animals and Zoos

The new regulations do not have any impact upon licences issued under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Complaints about a licensed or unlicensed premises

If you are concerned about the activity at a licensed premises or you believe that a licensable activity is happening on an unlicensed premises in the area please email