Animal Activity licence
Changes to the animal licensing laws
The Government has published updated legislation, The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations under Section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The regulations came into effect on 1st October 2018 and will replace the licensing and registration currently in place under the following legislation:
- Pet Animals Act 1951
- Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
- Riding Establishments Acts 1964 & 1970
- Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 & Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
- Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925
Under the new laws a number of animal related activities will all be covered under a single type of licence, known as an animal activity licence, rather than under separate licences. The legislation is accompanied by new nationally set licence conditions which are contained in Schedules 3 to 7 of the regulations. We cannot change these conditions as they are already set in the legislation.
The animal activities covered by this new licence are:
- Selling animals as pets
- Providing (or arranging to provide) accommodation for other people’s cats or dogs
- Boarding for cats
- Boarding in kennels for dogs
- Home boarding for dogs
- Day care for dogs.
- Hiring out horses (for riding and/or instruction in riding)
- Breeding dogs
- Keeping or training animals for exhibition
Businesses operating any of these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before the licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.
Local authorities must have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State in carrying out their functions under these Regulations.
The general procedural guidance and new conditions and guidance for each of the animal activities are set out under Application process below.
On this page
The application process
Operators that hold a licence under the existing pieces of legislation that is in force on 1st October 2018, can continue to operate under that licence until it expires.
Registration of a person under the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 will continue until expiry on 31 March 2019.
If an operator wishes to continue the activity after the expiry date of their current licence, they must apply for a new Animal Activity Licence under the new regulations. Operators are advised to apply as early as possible to ensure there is sufficient time to carry out the inspection and for us to consider the application before the current licence expires.
New applicants are advised to allow up to three months for the application and decision process. New applicants for Dog Breeding or Hiring of Horses will be inspected by a council appointed veterinarian in additional to the local authority inspector.
Application forms can be found below. Please note, if an operator will be carrying out more than one of the licensable activities, Section 2 for the relevant activity must be completed for each activity.
Please note when completing and submitting your application:
- The licence holder must be a named person.
- An individual is unable to apply for or hold a licence if they have been disqualified or had a licence revoked as per Schedule 8 of the Regulations.
- The applicant must supply a basic criminal record certificate that at the time of application is less than three months old.
This is required as local authorities must take into account an applicant’s suitability to be the operator of the activity when considering the grant of a licence and can consider any relevant information.
- A basic disclosure certificate only contains details of any unspent convictions as of the date the certificate is issued. It can be applied for online at https://www.gov.uk/request-copy-criminal-record. Applications will not be considered unless accompanied by the disclosure certificate.
Guidance notes and application forms
- Animal boarding - dogs and cats
- Breeding dogs
- Animals for exhibition
- Hiring out horses
- Selling animals as pets
Fees and charges
Please note that the fees for licences under these new regulations are now available (subject to approval) and can be viewed by visiting our Licence Fees webpage.
All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. 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.
The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:
- firstly the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including records, staffing, the environment, diet, and the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', 'minimum standards' are achieved or 'higher standards' have been met.
- Secondly, the risk, which is largely based on the history of compliance of the business, and also upon the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.
Staff should have a specialist knowledge in the species they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare - i.e. mental and physical health, feeding, and knowledge of environmental enrichment. They should also have an understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. There should be training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
Duration of licences
The Secretary of State guidance includes a risk based system that must be used when issuing animal activity licences.
The inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the licence duration (either one, two or three years), but also a star rating which will be given to a business.
This matrix does not apply to the activity of keeping or training animals for exhibition, which will all receive a three year licence.
If the applicant is not happy with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection.
Premises with lower star ratings
A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating.
New businesses will be assessed as higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.
For further information, please visit our guidance and frequently asked questions webpage.
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