Animal activity licence

Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 you need a licence to carry out any of the following activities:

  • Selling animals as pets
  • Boarding dogs in kennels
  • Dog day care
  • Home boarding for dogs
  • Dog breeding
  • Cat boarding
  • Hiring out horses
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Zoos and dangerous and wild animals will continue to be licensed under the existing legislation.

We are required to carry out an inspection of all premises where licensable activities take place before we can grant a licence. A star ratings system has also been introduced where you will be given a rating dependent on specified criteria.

Planning permission

Check if you need planning permission for your animal activity. If you are required to undertake construction work to house your animals it is likely that you will need planning permission.

Most domestic properties have planning permission for residential purposes, i.e. you have a home which is intended for people to live in. 

Having a dog is regarded as incidental to your use of the home. However, if you have so many dogs that it is regarded that the nature of your home has changed to being a home for dogs rather than people, you may need to apply for planning permission for change of use.

If you do not have the correct planning permissions in place at the time you apply for your licence, it is likely we will refuse your application on the grounds that the inspector would not be confident that you are able to comply with the licence conditions in the future.

Guidance and conditions of licence

The general conditions set by the legislation are on the GOV.UK website, as follows:

How to apply

  • Read the relevant guidance and conditions for the animal activity you are applying for above, along with the guidance notes on the application form.
  • Make sure you have planning permission, if this is needed.
  • Download and complete the animal activity licence application form.
  • Enclose any required supporting documentation with your application.
  • Return the application form and supporting documentation to the address listed on the form.

You must include all supporting documentation required or your application will not be processed. This may result in formal proceedings for operating without a licence. 

What happens next?

When we receive your application and supporting documents, we will review them within 21 days.

If we are satisfied that we have all the required information we will contact you to pay the application and grant fee in full. View licence application fees for each animal activity.

Once you have paid, we will arrange for an inspector to visit your premises to check that you meet the conditions of the licence. If you are breeding dogs or hiring out horses, a veterinary surgeon will also be present.

Following this inspection and if all the minimum standards are met, we will issue your licence. This will tell you how long your licence will last and what your star rating is based on the government criteria. We aim to issue the licence within 10 weeks of receiving the application.

If we do not approve your licence we will refund the grant fee of £80. The application fee is non refundable once the application process has started.


If we have made a decision to refuse, vary, suspend or revoke a licence, you can appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal.

Licence variation

To vary your licence please email with your proposals. We will then contact you to pay the licence variation fee. 

On receipt of payment, we will review your proposals and arrange a site visit if this is required, depending on the variation.