The Animal Welfare (Licensing of activities involving animals) (England) Regulations 2018

The above regulations came into force on 1 October 2018 and will have an impact on establishments licensed under the previous animal health legislation. This includes those previously licensed as pet shops, catteries, kennels, home boarders, dog crèche, riding establishments, dog breeders and performing animals.

The regulations can be a viewed at

The following guidance will provide more details of the new system of regulation.

What licensing activities require a licence?

A licence is required when any of the licensable activities outlined in Schedule 1 of the regulations are undertaken. These are:

  1. selling animals as pets (part 2)
  2. providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs including the provision of boarding for cats; kennels for dogs; home boarding for dogs; or day care for dogs (part 3)
  3. hiring out horses (part 4)
  4. breeding dogs (part 5)
  5. keeping or training animals for exhibition (part 6)

HMRC 9 Badges of Trade

This will help you and us to establish whether the activity you are undertaking is licensable.  Please visit to access the HMRC 9 Badges of Trade

Who can apply for a licence?

Any individual, who will be designated as the operator of the business, can apply for a licence providing they

  1. can demonstrate that they are a fit and proper person to carry out the licensable activity and meet the licence conditions; and
  2. are not disqualified from holding a licence in accordance with Regulation 11 and Schedule 8

How do I apply for a licence?

Licence applications must be submitted in writing along with any supportive information and the appropriate fee. Licence holders should make a new application with accompanying documentation as soon as possible to ensure continuity of their licences. As the fees are currently not available some applicants are happy to submit their applications without a fee, so that we can review their documentation and make a provisional inspection appointment. If they wish to withdraw their application once fees have been published then we can close their application.

What standards/conditions will I be expected to meet to obtain a licence?

DEFRA has produced mandatory conditions and associated guidance for each licensable activity. These are divided into two categories namely general conditions (stipulated in Schedule 2) and specific conditions from the associated schedule of the Regulations. 2

You will need to meet the requirements of all the minimum standards, although minor failings may be noted/recorded providing they do not compromise the welfare of the animals (these should be predominantly administrative in nature).

In addition each licensable activity (with the exception of the keeping or training animals for exhibition) also stipulates further optional conditions for “higher standards”. Specific details will be stipulated on the inspection report.

What documentation do I need to supply with my application

The new legislation requires written procedures to demonstrate compliance with the conditions (general and specific). Below is a list of written procedures required under the general conditions. This information can be supplied with your application, alternatively can be provided during your inspection however this will increase the time spent on site.

  1. feeding regimes
  2. cleaning regimes
  3. transportation
  4. prevention of and control of spread of disease
  5. monitor and ensure health and welfare of all animals
  6. death / escape of animals (storage)
  7. care plan following suspension/revocation
  8. a preventative healthcare plan agreed by your vet

The animal specific conditions may require additional documentation. It is therefore essential to read the specific guidance for the type of licence you require.

Application forms and guidance

How is the risk rating assessed?

Existing operators will be risk rated against a standard 14 point criteria checklist which considers a number of factors relating to compliance history, complaints, welfare standards and management standards. This scoring system will determine if they are rated as either low (a score of 17 or less) or high (a score of 18 or more).

All new businesses which do not have compliance history with a Local Authority or UKAS accredited scheme will be rated as high risk.  Licences for the keeping or training animals for exhibition are not risk rated.

What are the "higher standards"?

For each activity (except keeping or training animals for exhibition) a number of "higher standards" have been agreed. Meeting the higher standards is optional but is the only way to gain the highest star rating. The higher standards are classified into two categories - required (mandatory) and optional. These will usually be colour coded into blue and red respectively. To qualify as meeting the higher standards the business must achieve all the required (mandatory) standards as well as a minimum of 50% of the optional higher standards.

How long will my licence last?

Licences can be issued for a period of either one, two or three years depending on the risk rating and level of compliance. This also corresponds with the star rating for the establishment (see scoring matrix below). Licences for the keeping or training animals for exhibition are issued for three years.

Scoring matrix

 Scoring matrix

 Welfare standards

 Minor failings

 Minimum standards

 Higher standards


 Low risk

 1 star
 (one year licence)

 3 star
 (two year licence)

 5 star
 (three year licence)

 Higher risk

 1 star
 (one year licence)

 2 star
 (one year licence)

 4 star
 (two year licence)

As this is a new regime, it is likely that in the first instance most operators will achieve a 1 or a 2 star rating with the initial licence lasting one year.

What are the fees and when will these be available?

Licences are now being issued under the new regime brought about by changes in the law. For that reason all licences will be treated as first applications in the new regime this time rather than renewals. The change in legislation has also required a review of fees; with reference to the fees the new fee structure will be reported to the Licensing Committee on 8 November 2018 then subsequently to council on 5 December 2018. Because the full implications of the new regime were not fully understood until the guidance and training had been delivered it was not possible to accurately set the fees any sooner. The proposed fees will be published online at the beginning of November and will be viewable by visiting meetings schedule for Licensing Committee.

How is the licence application assessed?

All licence applications will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  1. an assessment of the operator (applicant) as to whether they are a fit and proper person to carry out the licensable activity, their knowledge, experience, compliance history, ability to meet their licence conditions and whether they are currently disqualified from making an application
  2. an inspection of the site of the licensable activity by a suitably qualified inspector (and where applicable accompanied by a registered veterinarian)
  3. the submission of the inspectors report which will contain information about the operator, details of the premises, records, conditions of the animals, the risk rating score, compliance details and a statement on whether licence conditions will be met
  4. the payment of the appropriate licence fee

What information is provided with the licence?

Where a licence is issued the council will provide the following details:

  1. the licence with the star rating
  2. details of how the business has been rated including a list of the higher standards the business currently fails to meet or a list of the minimum standards the business is failing to meet and resulting in a "minor failing" category
  3. a copy of the risk management assessment table
  4. details of the appeals process and timescales

What if my application is refused?

The council will consider the report from the inspector and any comments made by the applicant when deciding whether to issue a licence.

The council must refuse to issue a licence if it considers that the applicant cannot meet the licence conditions, the granting of a licence will have a negative impact on animal welfare or if the level of accommodation, staffing or management is inadequate for the well-being of animals. A licence cannot be issued to an operator who is disqualified. The applicant will have the right of appeal to a First-tier Tribunal within 28 days of the decision notice.

What can I do if I am unhappy/disagree with the star rating awarded to me?

To ensure fairness to the business, the council must have an appeals procedure in place for the operator to dispute the star rating given.

The business will be provided with supportive information (the inspection reports) which will highlight the inspecting officer's decision on how the risk rating, compliance level and star rating has been determined.

The appeal must be made in writing within 21 days and will be assessed and determined by an appointed manager within the department. If the business disagrees with the outcome of the appeal they can challenge the decision by means of judicial review.

The business is encouraged to discuss the matter initially with the inspecting officer where possible. A business may wish to apply for a re-inspection or re-rating on a chargeable basis following completion of works to rectify any non-compliance or improvements to achieve higher standards.

What will happen if I do not comply with the conditions of my licence?

The new Regulations introduce a range of enforcement powers to allow the council to issue a suspension, variation or revocation notice where licence conditions are not being complied with; there is a breach of the regulations or issues relating to the protection of the welfare of an animal.

The service of an enforcement notice is subject to a strict process and includes for the provision of the right to representation and appeal.

What advice and guidance is available?

Operators must meet the mandatory conditions issued by DEFRA.

Where operators wish to discuss the application process and seek guidance on compliance and more detailed advice a pre-application visit/discussion can be arranged on a chargeable basis.

Are the licence details and star rating displayed?

DEFRA has encouraged councils to maintain a list of licensed businesses and their associated ratings on their websites. The council will review this optional procedure.

For further details please email licensing at [email protected] or call 01423 500600 x56843.

Page last updated 15/03/2019