The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force on 1st October 2018. The regulations apply to the following activities:

  • Selling animals as pets (Part 2)
  • Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats and dogs including the provision of boarding cats in a cattery; kennels for dogs; home boarding for dogs; or day care for dogs (Part 3)
  • Hiring out horses (Part 4)
  • Breeding dogs (Part 5)
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition (Part 6)

Animal welfare regulations

Animal activities licensing: guidance for local authorities gives further statutory guidance including the standard conditions.

Zoo and dangerous wild animal licences are not included in these regulations.

To apply for a licence please use the relevant application form available to download on this page.

You are advised to undertake an assessment against the licence conditions prior to application or inspection. This is to prepare for your licence inspection and identify areas for improvement that you can implement in order to fully comply with conditions and/or meet the higher standards. This will improve both welfare standards and help you to achieve a higher star rating.

To assist you, self-assessment forms are available which includes guidance on how to meet each condition. It will also help to speed up the licence process if you submit any documented policies, procedures etc. with your application.

Animal boarding establishments

Dog breeding establishments

Hiring out of horses

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Selling animals as pets

Licensing rating appeal form

Licensing re-inspection request form

Variation to a licence request form

Fees and Charges

List of licenced star rated establishments

Animal Licence Activity Star Rating System

Every licenced boarding kennel, cattery, dog home boarding, dog day care, pet sales, dog breeding and riding establishment is given a star rating ranging from 1 to 5 stars. The licence for keeping or training animals for exhibition is not included in the rating system.

The star rating is determined by a risk-based scoring system. It takes into account both the animal welfare standards adopted by the business and their level of risk. This is based on elements such as past compliance.

In order to calculate the length of the licence and associated star rating the following questions are addressed based on the inspection and on records of past compliance:

  1. Does the business meet the minimum standards (licence conditions)?
  2. Does the business meet the higher standards?
  3. Is the business low or higher risk?
Scoring matrix
Risk Minor welfare failings (existing businesses failing to meet minimum standards) Minimum welfare standards Higher welfare standards
Low 1 star

1 year licence
3 stars

2 year licence
5 stars

3 year licence

Higher 1 star

1 year licence
2 stars

1 year licence
4 stars

2 year licence

The welfare standards are those set out in the regulations and guidance to the regulations. All businesses should meet the minimum standards to get a licence and therefore receive a 2 or 3 rating. However, minor failings that do not compromise the welfare of animals, e.g. administrative issues, may allow for a licence but with a rating of 1 star.

The guidance to the Regulations are specific to the type of activity and include a number of higher standards which businesses may aspire to in order to receive a higher standard rating as these are not mandatory in order to obtain a licence. The higher standards are divided into required and optional, a business needs to meet all the required higher standards and a minimum of 50% of the optional higher standards to qualify as meeting the higher standards.

All new and current businesses without three years previous compliance history with a local authority will be automatically rated high risk.

List of licenced star rated establishments

Contact Animal Health

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