Animal Welfare Licensing

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force on 1 October 2018 and this introduced a new framework for the licensing of animals. The purpose of such licensing is to ensure the welfare of animals and the protection of the public from certain hazards associated with the keeping of animals.  

A licence will normally be required by law to operate any of the following activities:

  1. Selling animals as pets in the course of a business (pet shops etc.);
  2. Providing boarding for other people’s cats or dogs in the course of a business (which includes catteries, boarding kennels, home boarding for dogs and daycare for dogs);
  3. Hiring out horses for riding or instruction in riding in the course of a business (riding schools etc.);
  4. Breeding dogs and advertising a business for selling dogs, or breeding dogs if producing three or more litters of puppies in any 12-month period;
  5. Keeping or training animals for exhibition in the course of a business for educational or entertainment purposes.

The precise definitions of licensable activities, and details of exemptions that might apply are given in Schedule 1 to the Regulations.

All new operators who intend to carry out any of the above activities within the Test Valley Borough Council area must apply for a licence from Test Valley Borough Council before commencing.  Prior to making an application for a licence in respect of a new, or substantially altered, business, it is strongly recommended that the applicant seeks advice beforehand from the Council’s Planning & Building Service to establish whether planning permission may be required to operate in the way intended.

Licences may only be issued following a written application, with the appropriate application fee, and following an inspection by an authorised inspector. In some cases a vet is required to do the inspection; this applies to hiring out horses for riding or instruction, dog breeding, and the keeping or training of animals for exhibition.  All licences that are issued will contain standard mandatory conditions and the Council has powers to suspend, vary or revoke licences where appropriate.   

The duration of new licences will be set in accordance with Government guidelines to between one and three years (except the keeping or training of animals for exhibition which last three years in every case), depending on compliance history, the perceived risk rating and level of welfare standards maintained.  One aim of the legislation is to reward high performing licence-holders by means of lower fees; the licence-holder will pay the same licence fee but it would spread over a longer licence period. In addition, following inspection, each licensed facility will be assigned a star rating, ranging between 1 and 5 stars, which will become public information.

A summary of applicable charges and application forms are given in the document section on this page.

A series of guidance notes, one for each of the licensable activities, have been issued by the Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  These set out the required standards and how to comply with the conditions of the licence.  Operators should read the relevant guidance note before making an application. 

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 do not affect the separate licence requirements for zoo animals and dangerous wild animals under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. Links to other web pages covering zoo licensing and dangerous wild animal licensing are given below.

- Zoo Licensing

- Dangerous Wild Animals Licensing

For more information please contact:

Housing & Environmental Health Service

Tel: 01264 368000