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Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Find out about the type of licence you need if you want to keep or train animals for exhibition.


  • Find out details about the licence and how to apply
  • Find out about the application process

Do I need a licence to keep or train animals for exhibition? 

Under the new Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 any business or person will require a licence if they wish to keep or train animals for exhibition. 

This licence applies to businesses or individuals who are operating on a commercial basis.

The circumstances which our Licensing, Food and Safety Team must take into account when determining whether an activity is being carried out as part of a business include if the business/individual: 

  1. makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
  2. earns any commission or fee from the activity.

If you make at least £1000.00 in income you would be classed as a business. Anyone falling under this threshold would not need to be considered in the context of determining whether they are a business.

What are the criteria for this licence?

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:

  1. Businesses which keep animals for exhibition, either for entertainment or educational purposes. This includes mobile animal exhibits that visit schools, weddings, private parties, fairs and other events where an audience is present.
  2. Pony parties where the ponies are not ridden.
  3. Businesses which keep animals for exhibition via electronic media, for example, animals used in films or TV.
  4. Businesses which train animals for exhibition, either to an audience or via electronic media.
  5. Exhibiting domestic animals in a circus.
  6. Any business based outside of England that brings in an animal for exhibition. These businesses must apply to the first authority in which they will be performing or where the animals are to be kept for the duration of their stay.

Please read the Licence Conditions

Download and read the Licence Conditions

How much does it cost to apply for this licence?

See the fees and charges here

How can I apply for this licence?

Please download and complete the application form. Send your completed application form to: Licensing, Food and Safety Team, Colchester Borough Council, Rowan House, 33 Sheepen Road, CO3 3WG.

Download the application form

How long will my application take? 

We aim to complete your application within 10 weeks of receiving it

What is the inspection process?

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.

Can I start trading before the decision for my licence is determined?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us on 01206 282520 or email

What can I do if my application is unsuccessful and I would like to appeal?

For suspensions, variation without consent or revocations in the first instance please contact the Licensing, Food and Safety Team on 01206 282520 or email

If you are still not satisfied you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. There is a 28 day appeal period.