COVID-19 update: Regulation 9 of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 allows the local authority to vary licences by extending the licence period for three months, where necessary, during this emergency period. Licence holders must make this request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before the current licence period expires.
Under new laws, an animal activity licence now covers:
An animal activity licence has new conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.
Businesses operating with the above activities will be assessed to make sure they comply with the conditions before a licence is given. An inspector will apply a risk rating and award stars for compliance with licence conditions. Low-risk premises can be awarded up to five stars, and high-risk premises up to four stars. The risk rating and stars determine whether applicants must renew their licence in one, two or three years.
Businesses can continue operating under current licences until it expires. They will need to apply to renew their licence under the new laws, ten weeks before the renewal date.
If a business provides more than one activity involving animals, they will be issued with a single risk rating. Stars will be based on the activities with the highest risk and lowest stars.
If the business makes improvements to issues in the assessment, they can request a re-inspection for an additional fee.
A business with a lower star rating is not necessarily one to avoid, as there are other factors we consider, including how long the licence holder has been operating. New businesses are assessed as slightly higher risk because there is no history of good practice.
It is a criminal offence to run unlicensed activities involving animals. If convicted you could be liable for imprisonment up to 51 weeks and/or a fine of up to £5,000.
You need a licence to look after cats or dogs, whether commercially or at home:
You need a licence if you breed three or more litters of puppies in any twelve month period, or breed dogs and advertise a business selling dogs. View guidance on dog breeding.
You need a licence if your business hires out horses for riding or riding lessons. This includes:
You need a licence if your business keeps or trains animals for exhibition, either for education or entertainment, where there is an audience or the animals are visually recorded for display. View guidance for keeping or training animals for exhibition.
You need a licence if your business sells animals as pets, this includes selling animals to someone else for them to sell. View guidance for selling animals as pets PDF.
For more information see: