Animal welfare updates

Animal Welfare Licensing

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 covers the following:

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

Click here for Government Statutory Guidance Updated 01 February 2022

The Application Process

An application for a licence under the new regulations should be made no later than 10 weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for the application to be dealt with.

Apply here.  

Please be aware that you should only pay the application fee in the first instance. If the inspection recommends that the licence should be granted the Licensing team will call you to make the additional fee, which will allow us to issue the licence.


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

  • a specialist knowledge in the species they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare - for example, mental and physical health, feeding, and knowledge of environmental enrichment.
  • 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 inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines how long the licence will last (one, two or three years), and also a star rating which will be given to a business. If the applicant is not happy with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for re-inspection.

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)

How long does the licence last?

Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either one, two or three 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 determine 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. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.

Premises with lower star ratings

A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.


Click here for the latest fees

Selling Animals as pets

An amendment to the Animal Welfare (Licensing Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, means that puppies and kittens under the age of six months can no longer be sold by a pet shop, commercial dealer or anyone other than a licensed breeder.  This includes puppies that are imported. 

Anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or a kitten under six months must either deal directly with the breeder or an animal re-homing centre.

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.

Read the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 legal information.