Animal licensing

Changes to the animal licensing laws

With effect from 1 October 2018, animal boarding businesses (including home boarders, doggy day care settings and crèches), dog breeders, premises selling animals as pets and those hiring out horses will be covered under a new single type of animal license. It will be known as an 'animal activity licence', with nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.

Register of current animal licences

The full list of businesses that currently hold an animal activity licence in Salford can be found at public facing licensing register. The register shows the business name, address, the type of animal activity licence(s) held and the star rating awarded.

Businesses operating with any of these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before the licence is granted to ensure they are being met.

Those businesses operating under current licences will be able to continue to do so until the expiry date of their licence i.e. 31 December 2018. From 1 October 2018, all applications to renew animal licences will be under the new legislation. 

The new licence conditions and guides to compliance can be found under the links on the right for each animal licensing activity. 

Please be aware that although this legislation came into effect on 1 October 2018, local authorities across the country have received limited guidance information from DEFRA. As such we are working as quickly as we can, trying to determine what the legal changes are and the practical implications to licence holders. We also need to put in place new inspection programme, which takes into account the new rating system (see below) and implement a new fee structure. 

I am not a business. Do I need an animal activity licence?

You may not think that what you are doing is classed as a ‘business’, you may believe that it is a hobby or a past time, but you could actually fall within the scope of the new licensing requirements and it’s best to check with Environmental Health. In general, if you make a profit or you earn any commission or fee from the activity then you are likely to require a licence. The government has issued further guidance on this matter and if you generate more than £1,000 of profit or trading income this will mean that you are classed as a business and will therefore require to be licensed. If Salford City Council believes that you are operating a business but you disagree, you will have to demonstrate by documentary evidence as to why this is the case. Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website and also within each DEFRA guidance document, the links to which can be found under each specific licence activity page. 

The application process

Existing licence holders will need to apply to their renew their licences under the new laws ten weeks before the renewal date. 

The new application forms can be found under the specific licence page. 

Once the application has been received, we will examine the information provided and determine if a Veterinary Officer is required to inspect the premises. Once the application has been processed an Environmental Health Officer will contact you to arrange an inspection. 


All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • a specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animals' 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 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. 

Introduction of new ‘Star Rating Scheme’ 

The legislation introduces a requirement for animal activity licensed premises to be rated and issued with a star rating, ranging from one to five. The star rating is based on a combination of the businesses ability to comply with the animal welfare standards and risk, taking into account the past history of compliance. 

Businesses classed as ‘low’ risk can attain a maximum five stars, whereas premises classed as ‘high’ risk can attain a maximum of four stars.

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 slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered. 

If you have any questions, please contact

How do I know if I am a ‘low’ or ‘high’ risk business?

Determining whether a business is ‘low’ or ‘high’ risk is quite complex and a thorough explanation is detailed within DEFRA’s procedural guidance which can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

In essence, the inspecting officer will determine if you are a low or high risk business, based on the following:

  • Any business that is certified by a UKAS-accredited body and has three or more years of compliance history with this body will be low risk
  • New businesses (including those that were licensed under the old legislation) that do not have three years of compliance history with a local authority (under the new licence requirements) or a UKAS-accredited body should automatically be considered high risk
  • For businesses that do have three or more years of compliance history but are not certified by a UKAS-accredited body, they are assessed against the questions detailed in the table below. A score or 17 or less results in the business being classed as low risk and 18 or more is high risk.
Criteria Low (score 1) High (score 2)
Compliance history - inspections Documented evidence from formal inspections over the previous three years reveal consistent and high levels of compliance in terms of welfare standards and risk management. Formal inspections over the previous three years reveal some degree of non-compliance that has required the intervention of the inspector for the business to ultimately recognise and address these. More serious breaches would attract other enforcement action: suspension, revocation, prosecution.
Compliance history – follow up action No evidence of follow-up action by local authority in the last year apart from providing the licence holder with a copy of the inspection report, or sending them a letter identifying some minor, administrative areas for improvement (eg minor record keeping issues). Follow up action by the local authority, such as sending them letters, triggered by low level non-compliance that is not addressed, or the business does not recognise the significance of the need to address the non-compliance.
Compliance history – re-inspection No re-inspection necessary (apart from standard unannounced inspection) before next planned licence inspection / renewal Re-inspection necessary to ensure compliance.
Complaint history – complaints to the local authority No complaints received direct to the local authority that are justified in relation to welfare standards or procedural issues during the previous three years. Low level substantiated complaints identifying concerns over the business / licence holder have been received within the previous three years.
Complaint history – complaints to the business Licence holder records and documents any feedback received directly, in order to demonstrate compliance and willingness to address issues, and can provide evidence of this. Licence holder does not record feedback received directly or show willingness to address any issues identified.
Appreciation of welfare standards - enrichment Sound understanding by the licence holder of relevant environmental enrichment applicable to the activity (guided by expert advice), with demonstrated implementation. Little environmental enrichment present, inconsistently used and its importance not understood or really valued.
Appreciation of hazards / risks Licence holder clearly understands their role and responsibilities under the legislation. Hazards to both staff and animals clearly understood, properly controlled and reviewed with supporting evidence where applicable. Licence holder not fully engaged with their role/responsibilities, lacks time to fulfil role, no system for review and reassessment of hazards to both animals and staff.
Appreciation of hazards / risks - maintenance A suitably planned maintenance, repair and replacement program for infrastructure and equipment is in place. No planned maintenance program. Building, installations and equipment allowed to deteriorate before action is implemented.
Appreciation of hazards / risks – knowledge and experience Staff have specialist and appropriate knowledge of the taxa / species that are kept. There is sufficient staff, time and resource for daily, adequate routine monitoring, evidenced through records and staff rotas. Key staff lack experience / knowledge of the species. Staff appear overburdened and / or unsupported by management, corners being cut.
Appreciation of hazards / risks – dealing with issues Clear defined roles / responsibilities of staff, with clear processes for reporting and addressing any identified issues. Lack of any process, or ownership and responsibility within the business to identify and deal with issues.
Welfare management procedures – written procedures Written procedures / policies clearly documented, implemented and reviewed appropriately. Limited written procedures / polices. No overall strategic control or direction.
Welfare management procedures – supervision of staff Appropriate supervision of staff evident where applicable. Inadequate supervision of staff evident on inspection or from the training records.
Welfare management procedures – record keeping All required records maintained and made available. Poor standard of record keeping, records out of date or appear to be being manufactured – relevance of records not appreciated.
Welfare management procedures - training Planned training programme for staff to review and assess competency, with documented training records. Little or no evidence of relevant training or system for review and reassessment.

Total score of 17 or less = low risk

Score of 18 or more = higher risk

Where there is any uncertainty, if a business cannot provide satisfactory evidence that it is low risk in a given category, it will be scored as high risk. When assessing risk, the inspector will also factor in the scale of the business. 

How are the star ratings awarded?

Once the inspector has established whether you are a low or high risk business, the inspector then determines the number of stars that can be awarded, based on how compliant the businesses is in meeting the welfare standards, as detailed in the table below:

Scoring matrix Welfare standards
Minor failings
(existing business that are failing to meet minimum standards)
Minimum standards
(as laid down in the schedules and guidance)
Higher standards
(as laid down in the guidance)
Risk Low risk One star
One year licence
Minimum one unannounced visit within 12 month period
Three star
Two year licence
Minimum one unannounced visit within 24 month period
Five star
Three year licence
Minimum one unannounced visit within 36 month period
High risk One star
One year licence
Minimum one unannounced visit within 12 month period
Two star
One year licence
Minimum one unannounced visit within 24 month period
Four star
Two year licence
Minimum one unannounced visit within 24 month period

Welfare standards

The welfare standards are those set out in the regulations and guidance to the regulations. All businesses should meet the standards to get a licence and therefore receive a two or three star rating. However, minor failings that do not compromise the welfare of animals, eg minor administrative issues, will allow for a licence to be issued but with a rating of only one star.

The guidance to the regulations includes a number of higher standards, which businesses may aspire to, in order to receive a higher standard rating. These are divided into required and optional. A business needs to meet all the required higher standards and 50% of the optional ones to qualify as meeting the higher standards.

The higher standards are specific to the type of activity but in general relate to things like level of qualifications, exercise and enrichment availability and staff ratios. Those businesses achieving higher standards will receive a rating of four or five stars.

When will I get my rating?

Businesses will get a rating after each inspection to grant or renew a licence. You can also be re-rated if you request a re-inspection (eg you got a low rating, made changes and want your rating re-evaluated). Businesses may also be re-rated following an unannounced or additional inspection (eg following a complaint) or if major issues are highlighted that require follow up action.

Will I be told how my rating is calculated?

Yes, following the inspection you will be issued with an inspection report that fully details the inspector’s findings and the licence conditions being contravened. It will detail whether you are a low or high risk business and explain why you received the rating you were awarded, including the scores for each rating point and a list of the standards you are currently failing to meet. 

I do pet sales and boarding, do I get a rating for each?

No. You'll get one overall rating. If you meet different standards for different activities eg higher standard for pet sale but minimum standard for boarding then the overall star rating will be based on the lower of the two. 

Can I appeal if I think my rating is wrong?

Yes, you have 21 days to appeal your rating. You must do this by e-mailing The appeal will be considered by a manager, not the inspector who was involved in deciding the initial rating.  

Can I ask for my rating to be increased between inspections?

Yes, you can request a re-rate, for example if you have made changes that mean you now meet higher standard and think you would be eligible for a higher rating. You will need to pay £79 for the re-rate, plus the new grant fee. You must do this by e-mailing Following receipt of a request for a re-rate an officer will carry this out within three months of the request being submitted.

Will my star rating be published?

Your star rating will be detailed on your licence certificate. A list of all animal activity licensed businesses and their ratings are published on this web page. 

What will happen if I fail to comply with my licence conditions?

If an inspecting officer finds that:

  1. licence conditions are not being met;
  2. there has been a breach of the Regulations;
  3. information supplied by the licence holder to Salford City Council is false or misleading; or
  4. the welfare of the animals are adversely affected

The inspecting officer has the power to vary, suspend or revoke the licence.

Downloadable documents

If you are unable to view documents of these types, our downloads page provides links to viewing software.

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