Animal licensing

Back To Top

Overview

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires those carrying on the following licensable activities to acquire a licence under the the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018:

  • Selling animals as pets (or with a view to their being later resold as pets) in the course of a business including keeping animals in the course of a business with a view to their being so sold or resold.
  • Providing or arranging for the provision of accommodation for other people’s cats or dogs (including day care) in the course of a business on any premises where the provision of that accommodation is a purpose of the business.
  • Hiring out horses in the course of a business for either riding, instruction in riding, or both.
  • Breeding three or more litters of puppies per year; or breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs.
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition in the course of a business for educational or entertainment purposes, either to any audience attending in person, or by the recording of visual images of them by any form of technology, or both.

Businesses will be able to have a number of separate licensing activities on the one licence rather than having to apply for different licences for different activities.

Note: The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 falls under section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which defines animals to mean vertebrates only.

Back To Top

Determining the inspection process

During an inspection we will consider the welfare standards adopted and the risk posed by the business.

Welfare standards are outlined by conditions that will apply to licences issued under the regulations and include:

  • a set of general conditions that apply to all licences and
  • a set of specific conditions that will apply to a specific animal activity

Conditions are set in legislation and it will be necessary for operators to comply with all sets of conditions applicable to the activities they undertake. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', or if 'minimum standards' or 'higher standards' have been met.

Risk posed by the business is largely based on the history of compliance and the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.

The inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the licence duration, and a star rating which will be given to a business.

Scoring Matrix
   Welfare Standards 
Scoring Matrix  

 Minor Failings

(existing businesses that are failing to meet min standards)

 Minimum Standards

(as laid down in the schedules and guidance)

Higher Standards

(as laid down in the guidance)

Risk   Low Risk

1 Star

1-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 12-month period

3 Star

2-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 24-month period

5 Star

3-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 36-month period

Higher Risk

1 Star

1-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 12-month period

2 Star

1-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 12-month period

4 Star

2-year licence

Min 1 unannounced visit within 24-month period


Achieving a higher rating

Meeting the higher standards is optional but is the only way to achieve a higher rating.

Licences may be issued for either 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the outcome of an inspection and subsequent risk rating. This however excludes licenses granted for the keeping or training animals for exhibition which if granted, will not be risk assessed and will be granted for a three year period.

Officers will undertake a minimum of one unannounced visit during the term of the licence granted to assess a licence holder’s compliance with the regulations and the licence conditions to which a licence holder is subject. An inspector however may not enter any part of premises which is used as a private dwelling unless 24 hours’ notice of the intended entry is given to the occupier.

Unannounced inspections will be undertaken in the case of complaints or supplementary information that suggests licence conditions are not being complied with or that the welfare of the animals involved in a licensed activity is at risk.

For the activity of hiring out horses, an annual inspection by a listed veterinarian, regardless of the total length of the licence, is required. The local authority will appoint a listed veterinarian to inspect the premises on which the activity is being carried on. This will take place before the end of the first year after the licence is granted and then each subsequent year thereafter.

Back To Top

Apply for or renew a licence

You can apply for or renew a licence by completing and returning the relevant form(s) below.

Animal boarding

Breeding and sale of dogs

Hiring out horses

Performing animals

Pet vending 

We recommend that applicants check they have the correct permissions to use their property or premises for the business applied for and that planning permission is not required to undertake any specific activity. It's important to do this before applying, as the application fee is not refundable.

Please note:  Application for a licence renewal must be received more than 10 weeks before the current licence expires. Failure to do so may result in the licence not being renewed in time and therefore a period during which the business cannot operate.

Please contact us if you have any queries.

Back To Top

Fees

The animal licensing fees for 2018/19 (as revised in accordance with the regulations) are:

Fees
 Category Fee
 Animal welfare licence: 1-3 year licence  £520
 Animal welfare licence: additional activity at application  £200
 Animal welfare licence: re-inspection, transfer and other amendments  £400
Any vets fees incurred will be payable by the applicant following the inspection. For more information about vets fees please contact Environmental Health.

The application fee covers the cost of considering and determining an application, including any related inspections. It also includes the cost of assessing a licence holder’s compliance with the regulations and the licence conditions.

Fees for applicants who apply for multiple activities at the same time will be reasonably reduced. However, applicants who later apply for additional activities having already been licensed will incur full costs as per the activity.

Payment can be made by cheque at the time of the application or, alternatively, we will contact you to take payment via credit or debit card.

PLEASE NOTE: The fee associated with considering and determining an application is non-refundable should your application be refused.

We are aware that for some licensable activities the fee associated with acquiring a licence has increased. The fees for the new licences under the above regulations were set having considered all fee-setting guidance, including that issued by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Treasury.

The new fees now cover all costs associated with the administration of the new licensing regime and our current experience of animal welfare licensing, including the resources required to undertake all of the tasks now required of us, ie initial inspection and interim inspection. These inspections will be significantly more comprehensive, with all licensable activities now to subject to the same inspection procedure.

The requirement for an interim inspection is new and not currently required or costed for in the current licence fees. The fees set do not aim to recover any costs associated with enforcement or to make any profit from this activity.

Fees set are for the life of the licence and not ‘annual’ or an ‘application-only fee’ as some other authorities have set. This approach seeks to promote animal welfare, as the better the standards found, the longer that licence can be issued for and therefore the more economical the licence will be for the applicant.

We are unable to pass comment on the licence fees set by other councils but are satisfied with the process followed for establishing our fees and the level of these.

Back To Top

Refusal, revocation, suspension or variation of licences

A licence will be refused if:

  • the applicant is under 18
  • the applicant has been disqualified from holding an animal licence or keeping an animal, or has had a licence revoked under section 15 of the regulations
  • the conditions of the licence are not met

A licence may be varied, suspended or revoked by the Council for the following reasons:

  • the licence conditions are not being complied with
  • there has been a breach of the regulations
  • the information supplied by the licensee is false or misleading
  • it is necessary to protect the welfare of an animal

A licence may be varied by mutual consent of the Council and the licensee.

Back To Top

Appeals

If the Council refuses to grant or renew a licence or if your licence is revoked, you may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. The period within which an operator may bring such an appeal is 28 days beginning with the day following the date of the decision.

If the council decides to suspend or vary your licence you should firstly contact the inspecting officer to discuss the matter. If, following this procedure, the inspecting officer’s decision is not revised, you may appeal in writing. The period within which an operator may bring such an appeal is 7 days beginning with the day following the date of the notice or, if that date is not a working day, the next working day. Your appeal will be heard by a panel of councilors. If an appeal is not successful, you may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. The period within which an operator may bring such an appeal is 28 days beginning with the day following the date of the decision.

If you wish to contest the star rating awarded, you should in the first instance contact the inspecting officer to discuss the matter. If, following this procedure, the inspecting officer’s decision is not revised, you may appeal in writing. The period within which an operator may bring such an appeal is 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) following the issue of the licence. If the operator disagrees with the outcome of the appeal, they can challenge the Council's decision by means of a judicial review. 

Back To Top

Requests for re-inspections

Operators who have accepted their rating and have subsequently made the necessary improvements to address non-compliances identified during the local authority’s previous inspection may apply for a re-inspection. Businesses are made aware that re-inspection for re-rating purposes could lead to a lower rating being awarded rather than an increase in rating.

On receipt of an application and associated fee, the Council will undertake the re-inspection within three months of receipt of the request. 

Back To Top

Regulations

Back To Top

Guidance notes

DEFRA have produced guidance documents to help current and prospective licence holders understand what will be required of them under the new legislation. Please refer to the guidance documents below for more information on the changes.