Animal activity licences

If you have a business that involves animals, you may need a licence.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into effect on 1 October 2018, and introduced an updated licensing system in England for 5 activities involving animals.

Selling animals as pets

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.

Boarding for cats or dogs (providing for, or arranging for the provision of)

Providing or arranging for the provision of accommodation for other people’s cats or dogs in the course of a business on any premises where the provision of that accommodation is a purpose of the business by:

  • providing boarding for cats
  • providing boarding in kennels for dogs
  • providing home boarding for dogs
  • providing day care for dogs

Hiring out horses for riding or instruction in riding

Hiring out horses in the course of a business for either riding, instruction in riding, or both.

Dog breeding

Breeding 3 or more litters of puppies in any 12-month period; and/or breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs (even one litter of puppies may need to be licenced).

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

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.

The 2018 Regulation also introduced the following:

  • a 1 licence system, whereby each of the activities underlined above is considered to be a licensable activity, and an operator may apply for multiple licensable activities on the one licence.
  • a new star rating scheme, ranging from 1 to 5 stars, assessed according to risk and welfare standards at the premises.
  • licence periods of up to 3 years, linked to the star rating given to the premises.

Existing licence holders, and anyone planning to apply for a new licence should read the 2018 Regulation, and the statutory guidance notes to fully understand your obligations and duties under the new Regulations.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

Defra guidance

Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) are responsible for creating the new regulation via powers given to them by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. They have provided statutory guidance that the Licensing Authority must have regard to. Each licensable activity has its own specific guidance, and any person wishing to conduct that licensable activity must be able to comply with the minimum standards contained within the relevant document. The documents below are updated versions of the original versions published on 24 September 2018. 

Defra have also provided procedural guidance for licensing officers. This illustrates how the licensing authority will administer and enforce the new regulations.

Application

Applying for a new licence

Once you have read through the guidance relevant to your chosen activity or activities, and the Regulations, you will need to submit your application form, and pay the application fee and relevant inspection fee, which is determined by the size or type of establishment.

Due to the fact that animal welfare may be undermined if your premises does not have suitable planning permission, proof of suitable planning permission must be provided at the time of application.

Once you are happy that you have prepared your premises ready for inspection, you will need to contact the licensing authority. Additional inspections prior to the official rating inspection can be booked once an application has been submitted, however, this will incur an additional inspection fee charge.

If you intend to conduct dog breeding or horse hiring activities, you will also be responsible for paying for a veterinarian to inspect the premises.

The veterinarian will accompany a licensing officer, but payment must be made to the veterinarian prior to the inspection taking place.

Apply for an Animal Welfare Licence

Renewing an existing licence

All existing licensing holders will be supplied a renewal notice no less than 3 months prior to the expiry date of their licence. In order to guarantee licence continuation whilst the renewal process takes place, licence holders must submit a valid application no less than 10 weeks prior to the expiry date of their licence.

Although called a renewal, the process is almost identical to applying for a new licence. The only difference being the fact that a dog breeding establishment does not have to have a veterinarian inspection upon renewal. The renewal notice supplied will provide detailed information regarding the renewal process.

Renew an Animal Welfare Licence

Rights of appeal

A right of appeal exists if your application is refused, or your licence is revoked. Appeals are heard by the First Tier Tribunal.

An internal appeals system exists if you do not agree with the star rating. Ultimately, if you do not agree with the rating awarded by the Licensing Authority having followed the appeal procedure, you may seek judicial review of the decision, or submit a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Animal Welfare Licence Holders Register

We hold a Public Register which lists the licensed animal welfare establishments within the Council's district boundary, and their star rating issued in accordance with the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018. Please email env.health@scambs.gov.uk for further information about the register.

When calculating the star rating of a premises Officers take into account both the risk rating (based on compliance and complaint history, and management processes) of the premises, and the animal welfare standards at the premises (based on facilities, staffing, training etc).

These 2 factors result in a star rating ranging from 1 to 5 stars. The table below shows how the star rating is worked out. Any establishment which is unable to provide 3 years history of compliance is automatically considered high risk and is therefore unable to obtain the higher star ratings.

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Star rating Risk Licence period given
1 Star Low or high risk with minor failings 1 year
2 Stars High risk but meeting minimum welfare standards 1 year
3 Stars Low risk and meeting minimum welfare standards - will be given a two-year licence 2 year
4 Stars High risk but meeting higher welfare standards 2 year
5 Stars Low risk and meeting higher welfare standards 3 year

Breeding of Animals

  • Application fee £67
  • Initial rating £36 plus vet fee
  • Re-inspection  £36 plus vet fee

Maintenance fee to be paid after initial rating score:

  • 1 year £180
  • 2 year £354
  • 3 year £533 

Variation of licence £36 plus vet fee

Note, the first inspection for dog breeders must be made by a Veterinarian, along with our Animal Welfare Officer.

Boarding of Animals

Application fee £67

Initial rating or re-rating inspection:

  • Up to 10 animals £104
  • 11 to 30 animals £139
  • 31 to 60 animals £173
  • 61 to 99 animals £206
  • 100 or more animals £241

Maintenance fee to be paid after initial rating score:

  • 1 year £180
  • 2 year £354
  • 3 year £533

Variation of licence requiring a re-inspection fee: As initial rating or re-rating inspection

Hiring of Horses

Application fee £67

Initial rating £36 plus vet fee

Re-inspection £36 plus vet fee

Maintenance fee to be paid after initial rating score:

  • 1 year £180
  • 2 year £354
  • 3 year £533

Variation of licence requiring a re-inspection £36 plus vet fee

Note, the first inspection for Riding Establishments must be made by a Veterinarian, along with our Animal Welfare Officer. Riding Establishments must continue to have annual veterinary and Council Officer inspections organised by us. Fees payable for vet inspections will be invoiced separately.

Selling Animals as Pets

Application fee £67

Initial rating £173

Re-inspection £173

Maintenance fee to be paid after initial rating score:

  • 1 year £180
  • 2 year £354
  • 3 year £533

Variation of licence requiring a re-inspection £173

Exhibiting Animals

Application fee £103

Maintenance fee (3 years) £533

Variation of licence requiring a re-inspection £104

Dangerous Wild Animals

Application fee £67

Initial rating £93 plus vet fee

All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

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

The premises itself will also be assessed so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the new laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

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