Licensed premises are regularly, inspected, and for some of these licenses an annual inspection is carried out by a veterinary surgeon.

Changes to the animal licensing laws

With effect from 1 October 2018, animal boarding businesses (including home boarders and day carers), dog breeders, pet shops and riding establishments will be covered under a new single type of licence. It will be known as an 'animal activity licence', with  nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services.

Businesses operating with 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.

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. All applications to renew licences will be under the new legislation. 

The new licence conditions for each of the animal activities covered are set out at the bottom of this page.

More detailed guidance to assist applicants meet the new licence conditions can be found under each of the specific licence type pages. 

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 relevant licence types. 

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 new requirement for animal welfare businesses to be rated and issued with a star, ranging from 1-5.  Based on compliance with the new conditions, we will assess the risk rating and award stars. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection, for which there will be a charge.

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 Environmental Health.

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