Animal licences

Animal licensing has changed

Existing licence holders and anyone planning to apply for a licence should read the Animal Welfare (licensing of activities involving animals) Regulations 2018 and the DEFRA guidance.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, came into effect on 1 October 2018. The regulations unify and update a number of current licensing acts namely those applicable to pet shops, animal boarding establishments, riding establishments, dog breeding and performing animals.

Dangerous wild animals and zoo licensing is not included in the new regulations.

Existing licences remain in force for the remainder of their term, under the current regulations in place. Performing animals registrations remain in force until 31 March 2019. New licence applications and renewals after 1 October 2018 will need to be made under the new regulations.

The new regulations are available to download and include statutory licence conditions as follows:

Schedule 2 - the general conditions which apply to all licences. The specific conditions which apply with respect to different licensable activities as follows;
Schedule 3 - selling animals as pets
Schedule 4 - providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
Schedule 5 - hiring out horses
Schedule 6 - breeding dogs
Schedule 7 - keeping or training animals for exhibition

The 2018 regulations introduce significant changes including new enforcement powers for a local authority to suspend, vary or revoke a licence and a risk/star rating system which determines the duration of a licence which may last for one,two or three years.

To apply for a licence please use the relevant application form and arrange to pay the appropriate Part A fee.

DEFRA - are producing guidance relating to each of the licensable activities, when this and other information becomes available it will be published here.

Application fees

All fees have been calculated taking into account the statutory guidance in Regulation 13 which stipulates a full cost recovery model. Fees are broken down as follows;

Part A - the costs of processing the application, including initial inspection, through to determination.
Part B - the costs of running and enforcement of the licensing regime, including any mid term visits.

Vet inspection and associated fees, apply in addition to the above with respect to initial inspection of dog breeding establishments and annually for hiring of horses.

Animal licence fee structure

Please be aware that the fee is the same regardless of duration of the licence however we are unable to determine the duration until a full assessment has been undertaken. The Part A and vet inspection fees are non-refundable should your application be unsuccessful. The Part B fee is only payable upon granting of a licence.

Duration of licences

Under the 2018 regulations, a licence for the keeping or training animals for exhibition will last for three years and is not subject to risk rating. Licenses for other activities will last either one, two or three years.

Existing operators will be risk rated against a standard 14 point assessment criteria. The assessment considers a number of factors relating to compliance history, complaints, welfare and management standards. A score of 17 or less is rated low risk, a score of 18 or above is rated higher risk. New businesses which do not have a compliance history with a Local Authority or relevant UKAS accredited scheme must be considered higher risk.

The inspection findings and risk rating are fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the star rating and duration of the licence given to a business.

Scoring matrix
Welfare standards

Minor failings (existing business that are failing to meet minimum standards)
Low risk - one star (one year licence) - minimum one unannounced visit within 12 month period.
Higher risk - one star (one year licence) - minimum one unannounced visit within 12 month period.

Minimum standards (as laid down in the schedules and guidance)
Low risk - three star (two year licence) - minimum one unannounced visit within 24 month period.
Higher risk - two star (one year licence) - minimum one unannounced visit within 12 month period.

Higher standards (as laid down in the guidance)
Low risk - five star (three year licence) - minimum one unannounced visit within 36 month period.
Higher risk - four star (two year licence) - minimum one unannounced visit within 24 month period.

Appeal against a decision to refuse, revoke, or vary a licenceAppeals

Any operator who is aggrieved by a decision to refuse to grant or renew a licence, or to vary or revoke a licence may appeal within 28 days of the day after the date of the decision, to a first tier tribunal.

Appeal against the risk or star rating awarded

A licensed operator of an animal establishment may appeal the animal health licence rating given following inspection if they do not agree that the rating reflects the risk rating or compliance rating (both of which affect the star rating and length of licence) found at the time of the inspection. Operators should, in the first instance, talk to the council officer that inspected the business about why the rating was given however this does not affect the right to appeal or applicable deadlines.
Appeals must be lodged within 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) from the date of issue of the licence. Appeals must be in writing (includes email) and provide evidence of compliance.

  • return to the council by email to
  • or post, to Safer Communities, Harrogate Borough Council, PO Box 787, Harrogate, HG1 9RW

A senior officer for animal health licensing will review the rating and communicate the outcome of the appeal within 21 days of receipt (including weekends and bank holidays).

In some circumstances, a further visit to the establishment may be required to determine the appeal. This will depend on the nature of the appeal and whether a decision can or cannot be made on the basis of the paperwork associated with the inspection and the rating given.

The cost of any additional visit is borne by the applicant unless it results in a higher star rating being awarded and is charged at the same rate as a major variation.

If an operator disagrees with the outcome of an appeal, they can challenge by means of a judicial review.

Requests for re-inspection for re-rating purposes

To ensure fairness to businesses, a procedure is in place for undertaking re-inspections at the request of a business for re-assessing star ratings. A request may be made where a business has been rated one to four, has accepted the rating and made the necessary improvements to address the identified non compliances or meet the higher standards.

To request a re-inspection the business operator must email

They must outline the case for a re-inspection - indicating the actions that have been taken to address any identified non-compliance and/or improvements made to achieve the higher standards.

If there is insufficient evidence provided that improvements have been made, we can refuse to undertake a re-visit but must explain why they are refusing the request.

A re-score can only be undertaken following a re-inspection and cannot be undertaken on documentary evidence alone. There is a fee for a re-score visit and businesses are advised that re inspection for re rating purposes may result in lower rating or no change rather than an increase in rating.

We aim to undertake a re inspection within three months of receipt of a request.

Self assessment

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 both improve welfare standards and help you to achieve a higher star rating. To assist you, the regulations which include the statutory conditions are available to download from this page. In addition self assessment forms are available which include 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 form.

For more information, please contact us.

Online enquiries form

Visits to the licensing service by appointment only

The Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) is made up of influential organisations who advise Government on behalf of the sector on strategically important dog and cat health and welfare issues and standards.

Please visit the Canine and Feline Sector Group website for more information.