New animal licensing regulations


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Overview

The government recently published the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 and it came into force on 1 October 2018.

The regulations combine and revise a number of current acts, namely those applicable to pet shops, animal boarding establishments, riding establishments, dog breeding, and performing animals.

Under the new regulations, those carrying out the following licensable activities will require a licence:

  • 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.

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Duration of licences

Under the new regulations, a licence will last 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.

During an inspection we will consider two main aspects:

Firstly, the welfare standards observed, which are outlined by new conditions that will apply to licences issued under the new regulations and include:

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

The new conditions are set in legislation and it will be necessary for operators to comply with all sets of conditions applicable to the activities they carry out. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', or if 'minimum standards' 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. 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. Meeting the higher standards is optional but is the only way to achieve a higher rating.

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


Current licence holders

Those businesses operating under current licences will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence. We'll be sending out letters containing information on how to apply for a licence under the new regulations shortly. We advise that current licence holders consider the new regulations before their renewal date.

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Apply

We are unable to provide an application form at this time, as it has not yet been released by DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).

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Fees

We are yet to set the fees that will be charged for licences under the new regulations. Once the fees have been approved, they will be available to view on our website.

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New regulations

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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.