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Animal licensing


The following activities are licensed under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018:

  • hiring out horses (for example riding schools)
  • selling animals as pets
  • dog breeding
  • providing boarding for dogs (kennels)
  • providing boarding for cats (catteries)
  • providing home boarding for dogs (including day care)
  • providing day care for dogs (commercial)
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

There are also separate licences available for:

  • dangerous wild animals
  • zoos

Licences can be issued for a period of either one, two or three years depending on the risk rating and level of compliance. This also corresponds with the Star Rating for the establishment.

The procedural guidance describes the risk-based system that must be used when issuing licences under the Regulations (with the exception of 'Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition' where all licences are issued for three years).

Use of this system determines both the length of the licence and the star rating that will be awarded. Local authorities in England are expected to follow it in full.

Welfare standards/risk scoring matrix

Minor Failings
(existing business that are failing to meet minimum standards)
Minimum Standards
(as laid down in the schedule and guidance)
Higher Standards
(as laid down in the guidance)
Low Risk1 Star
1 year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 12 month period.
3 Star
2 year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 24 month period.
5 Star
3 year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 36 month period.
Higher Risk1 Star
1 year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 12 month period.
2 Star
1 year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 12 month period.
4 Star
2 year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 24 month period.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have published Procedural Guidance Notes for Local Authorities to assist in assessing the regulations, which are available to be downloaded.