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Animal activities licensing


The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018 require that any person wishing to carry out the activities listed below in the course of a business must obtain a licence from the local authority.

Use the following quick links to reach relevant sections:

  1. Selling animals as pets
  2. Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
  3. Hiring out horses
  4. Breeding dogs, including Puppy Litter Notification Form
  5. Keeping or training animals for exhibition
  6. Keeping a dangerous wild animal
  7. Keeping a Zoo
  8. Application and Renewals
  9. Inspections and Star Ratings
  10. Register of Licensed Premises
  11. Staff Training
  12. Policies and Documentation, including examples and templates
  13. Reporting Concerns at Premises
  14. Frequently Asked Questions

Animal Activities Licences

Any person or business operating any of the activities listed from 1 through to 5 above will need to apply for a licence, and will need to comply with the legislation and the conditions set by the legislation. For any person or business operating activities 6 or 7 listed above, more information about the licensing requirements for these activities can be found on our dedicated web pages - Dangerous Wild Animal Licence and Zoo Licence.

Anyone carrying out the activities above without the relevant licence could be prosecuted and face imprisonment of up to 6 months, receive a fine or both.

The Secretary of State has published statutory guidance for each licensable activity. Inspectors must ensure that the businesses comply with the guidance. New or existing businesses will not be granted a licence if they do not comply.

This guidance was updated in February 2022.

Considerations before applying for a licence

Once you apply for a Licence you are essentially telling the Council that you are ready to start caring for animals in your Business.

You are therefore confirming that your premises are suitable and compliant with the legislation and statutory guidance and that you have all the necessary paperwork in place.

If you do not have the necessary paperwork in place or your premises are not structurally compliant, then your application may be refused. At that point your application fee is forfeit and you will need to re-apply in the future and pay a new fee.

Licensed premises applying for a renewal of Licence should ensure that all of the items in the schedule of works sent to them, when the licence was issued, have been completed, failure to do so may result in a reduction in Star Rating or a refusal to grant the licence. 

Please use our checklists to help you ensure that you have the correct paperwork in place before you apply.

How do I apply for a licence?

To apply for any of the activities listed from 1 through to 5 above please complete the following online form and pay the relevant fees:

Apply for or Renew an Animal Activities Licence

The application fee Part A is payment to cover the Councils costs in determining your application. This covers the costs of an inspectors time in visiting your premises ad assessing your paperwork. This fee is strictly non-refundable even if you are refused a licence or you withdraw your application.

If you are successful you will be asked to pay the Part B fee (on-going enforcement costs) before your Licence is granted. You will also be required to pay any vets fees.

How much is an Animal Welfare licence?

Please find below the fees and charges for animal licences. Vet fee costs are charged in addition to the fees shown (where applicable).

Licence Activity


Application Fee

Part A

Grant Fee

Part B

Total Fee
Boarding in Kennels£295£98£393
Boarding in Catteries£295£98£393
Day Care for Dogs£295£98£393
Home Boarding£184£72£256
Homeboarding Franchise (Arranger)£184£72£256
Hiring out Horses£348

£212 for 1 year licence

£422 for 2 year licence

£634 for 3 year licence

£560 for 1 year licence

£770 for 2 year licence

£982 for 3 year licence

Breeding of Dogs£210£72£282
Selling Animals as Pets£210£72£282

Exhibition of Animals (Granted every 3 years)

£210not applicable£210


Additional Licences and Prices

Licence Activity


Application Fee

Part A

Grant Fee

Part B

Total Fee
Combination of above activities at the same premisesThe highest activity fee + £53 per hour inspection fee for each additional activity.Equal to the highest activity feeEqual to the highest activity fee + additional inspection time.
Minor variation to licence (administrative only)£29not applicable£29
Major variation to licence (where an inspection visit is necessary)£98not applicable£98
Re-evaluation of star rating£128not applicable£128


Planning Permission

Ensure that you have, or do not need, planning permission for your activity.

If you are required to undertake construction work to house your animals then 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, then the Council may require you to apply for planning permission for change of use.

There is no statutory maximum number of dogs that you may have, as it will depend on the size of your home and the size of the dogs, but the Planning Department use 6 dogs as their 'rule of thumb' maximum. However, this should not be regarded as the most you may have, as in your particular circumstances, a smaller number may be appropriate. See article from Association of Dog Boarders for further explanation

If you apply for change of use, there is no guarantee that it will be granted.

Failure to have the correct planning permissions in place at the time of application is likely to lead to your application being refused on the grounds that the Inspector cannot have confidence that you are able to comply with the licence conditions in the future.

You should contact the Planning Department on 01772 906912 or by e-mail

Inspections and Star Ratings

All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted.

The inspector will be checking the applicant has the following:

  • a specialist knowledge in the species they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animal's mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment.
  • The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
  • comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities.  An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
  • training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.

The premises 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.

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.

What happens if my Licence application is refused?

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.

More information can be found in the Procedural guidance notes for local authorities.

What can I do if I disagree with my star rating?

Initially we would encourage you to speak to the Inspecting Officer. If you are still not satisfied you can make a written appeal to the Council within 21 days of the Licence being issued.

In the first instance the appeal will be considered by a Manager within the Environmental Health Department. If you are still not satisfied following the appeal you may have the matter referred for Judicial Review.

More information can be found in the Procedural guidance notes for local authorities.

Following making improvements can I apply for a re-evaluation of my star rating?

Yes, this involves a re-inspection and a fee (see table above) is payable. More information can be found in the Procedural guidance notes for local authorities.

What Conditions will be attached to a licence?

The regulations prescribe general licence conditions contained in Schedule 2 of the regulations that will be attached to all licences, and specific licence conditions contained in Schedules 3 - 7 of the regulations that will apply to individual licences depending on the licensable activities.

Minor and Major Variations to an Animal Activities Licence

A Minor variation is one that typically does not require an Animal Welfare Inspector to visit a premises. Examples include:

  • The addition or removal of named horses;
  • A small increase in numbers of certain animals for example fish;
  • The addition of a similar category of animal to pet shop licence e.g. a shop that sells Tropical fish now also wants to sell Marine fish.

A Major variation is one that typically does require an Animal Welfare Inspector to visit a premises. Examples include;

  • An extension to the premises to add extra dog kennels;
  • Moving the Animal Activities from one premises to another location;
  • The addition of a different species to a pet shop for example a pet shop that sells tropical fish now also wants to sell rabbits.

Fees for a variation are listed in the table above. Licence holders are recommended to contact the Council prior to making an application

Premises in Preston with an Animal Activities Licence

You can view the details of all premises licensed for Animal Activities in Preston through our Public Register page.

View premises licenced for animal activities in Preston

Staff Training 

To help promote animal welfare the new guidance is setting standards for staff training.

Asking for staff to be trained to OFQUAL Level 2 and to achieve the higher standards in the guidance (and therefore a higher star rating) have at least one member of staff with an OFQUAL level 3 qualification.

The training providers below offer a range of OFQUAL Courses, an Internet search will produce more providers.

Note that Preston City Council does not recommend or endorse any courses or training providers:

There are also some free online training courses that maybe suitable for staff training and continued professional development, for example: ​​​​​​

Any training undertaken by staff should be relevant to the type of business and/or animal being cared for. (An OFQUAL Level 3 course in Dog husbandry would not be suitable for running a cattery!)

Policies and documentation

There are a number of policies and other documentation that are required by the conditions and accompanying guidance. Examples of those polices and other documentation have been developed here for  Licence holders to adapt and use in their business.

Selling Animals as Pets

You need a licence if you sell animals as pets in the course of a business. This includes the import, distribution and sale of animals by a business. It applies to domestic premises and tradition pet shops where animals are available for purchase.

Failure to adhere to the Statutory Guidance will result in the Council refusing to grant a Licence or renew a current Licence: Statutory Guidance: Selling Animals as Pets

Animal boarding

You need a licence if you provide or arrange for the provision of accommodation for other people's cats or dogs in the course of a business. This includes:

  • Providing boarding for cats, for example in a cattery;
  • Providing boarding for dogs in dog kennels;
  • Providing home boarding for dogs (This include daycare in the home, even for short periods);
  • Providing day care for dogs;
  • Making arrangements to board dogs with a host family.

Failure to adhere to the Statutory Guidance will result in the Council refusing to grant a Licence or renew a current Licence;

Should should also be familiar with health and safety guidance; Guidance for handling dogs and the use of equipment to ensure the health and safety of handlers, others and the welfare of dogs.  

Hiring out horses

You need a licence if you hire out horses in the course of a business (for payment in money or in other means such as gifts, in lieu of labour etc) for either or both of the following purposes:

  • Riding
  • Instruction in riding

Horse includes an ass, mule or hinny. The Local Authority is required to appoint a Vet to inspect the premises where the activity is being carried out every 12 months.

Failure to adhere to the Statutory Guidance will result in the Council refusing to grant a Licence or renew a current Licence;

You should also be familiar the health and safety requirements for horse riding establishments and livery yards (CIEH)

Breeding dogs

You need a licence for either or both of the following:

  • Breeding 3 or more litters of puppies in any 12 month period
  • Breeding dogs and advertising a business of selling dogs

The Local Authority is required to appoint a Vet to inspect the premises on receipt of the initial application.

The Kennel Club - Dog Breeding, Pets4Homes - Becoming a Dog Breeder and Wikipedia - Dog Breeding provide additional information on breeding dogs.

Failure to adhere to the Statutory Guidance will result in the Council refusing to grant a Licence or renew a current Licence;

All breeders are now required to report the birth of a litter of puppies to the Council. The Council may make an unannounced visit to monitor the welfare of the bitch and puppies. Please report the birth of a litter, within 1 week of the birth, using the form below.

Puppy litter notification form

Lucy's Law

On 6 April 2020, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 known in short as 'Lucy's Law' made it unlawful for the sales of puppies and kittens (under six months in both cases) to be undertaken by anyone other than the breeder or pet rescue centre. RSPCA guide to Buying a Puppy.

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

You need a licence for keeping or training animals for exhibition in the course of a business, for educational or entertainment purposes to any audience attending in person, or by recording of visual images of them by any form of technology that enables the display of such images.

Failure to adhere to the Statutory Guidance will result in the Council refusing to grant a Licence or renew a current Licence:

If you are inviting members of the public to interact (pet/stroke/ride) animals you will need to be mindful of health and safety requirements, especially Preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions or open farms and Children and Public Safety.

Reporting Concerns about Premises that are or should be Licensed

Please use this form to report your concerns regarding Animal Safety or Welfare at a business that are, or should be, licensed. The Council does not investigate animal welfare concerns at Domestic premises, Dog groomers, Dog Walkers, on Farms or at Vets. 

Report an Animal Safety or Welfare Concern at a Premises

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Dog Groomers or Dog Walkers require a Licence?

No, Dog Walkers and Dog Groomers do not require a Licence. 

Does the Council investigate illegal (unlicensed) puppy breeders?

Yes, if you have any information you should report using our Report Form

Does the Council investigate the abuse/neglect of pet dogs, cats or other domestic animals?

No, Preston City Council does not investigate complaints of animal abuse/neglect in a domestic home. If you have concerns for pet animals you should contact the Police or RSPCA. We only investigate complaints of abuse in premises that are, or should be Licenced, you can use our Report Form to report concerns in those premises.

Does Preston City Council investigate complaints of abuse or neglect of farm animals and livestock?

No, Preston City Council does not investigate complaints of abuse or neglect of farm animals. If you suspect that farmed animals may be diseased, abused, neglected, or otherwise suffering, contact Lancashire County Council Trading Standards.

Does the Council investigate concerns for human safety at animal premises?

The Council and the HSE have responsibility for Health and Safety matters, depending on the type of premises. You can report your concerns here Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Report Form

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