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New Animal Licensing Legislation 2018

The Government has now published updated legislation for animal businesses and confirmed that these changes will take effect from 1 October 2018.


  • Information about the new legislation starting from 1st October 2018.
  • Find out about the licensable activities
  • Information about the application process
  • Information about the inspection process.

The Government has now published updated legislation for animal businesses and confirmed that these changes will take effect from 1 October 2018. Under the new laws, animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, pet shops and riding establishments and performing animals will be covered under a single type of licence from that date. It will be known as an 'animal activity licence', with new nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal related services.

The Local Authority cannot change these new conditions as they are already set in the legislation. Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before the licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.

Those businesses operating under current licences will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence. All applications to renew licences will be under the new legislation. New applicants will need to have their licences under the new legislation from the 1st of October.

Licensable activities:

Please note: Dangerous Wild Animal Licences and Zoo Licences remain unchanged

The guidance documents for each licence are for local authorities who need to license activities involving animals and the relevant establishments. It can also be used by those who currently have a licence or wish to apply for one.

Local authorities, existing licence holders and anyone planning to apply for a licence should also read The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018(1) (the “Regulations”) to understand their obligations and duties under the new Regulations and the licences granted under these Regulations.

Read the Guidance Notes and FAQs

The Application Process

Existing licence holders will need to apply for their renewed licences under the new laws 10 weeks before the renewal date. At present, we do not have the required application form as this has not yet been published by DEFRA, but we will send out reminders as soon as we can. In the future we will send out reminder letters 12 weeks before the renewal date.  Once the application has been we will examine the information provided and then arrange to inspect the premise.

To note: an application for a licence is not guarantee of a granting of a licence. All applicants will have to meet the minimum conditions defined under the new regulations. As such the fees will be split in to application and granting of a license.


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

  • A 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

Based on the information, we will assess the risk rating and award stars. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection.

It should be noted that to obtain the four and the five star rating the operator/licence holder will have to meet all of the (required) higher standards and 50% of the Optional Higher standards in each of the licensable activities.

Depending on the risk rating and the star rating if your licence is granted you will be given a licence between one and three years.

Premises with a low star rating

Premises with a low star rating may not necessarily be 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. For example new businesses with no known history will automatically be assessed as high risk and as such will not be able to obtain a higher rating until the Local Authority has a history of that operator.


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