Changes to Animal Welfare Licensing

The New Legislation

The Government has recently published the  Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 under section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Under the new laws a number of animal related activities will all be covered under a single type of licence, known as an animal activity licence, rather than under separate licences. The legislation is accompanied by new nationally set licence conditions which are contained in Schedules 3 to 7 of the regulations - click on the links below to see the activities contained in the regulations, along with the guidance, which is both available to operators in achieving compliance, and to inspectors, when undertaking an inspection.

The regulations come into effect on 1st October 2018 and will replace the licensing and registration currently in place under the following legislation:

  • Pet Animals Act 1951
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • Riding Establishments Acts 1964 & 1970
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 & Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
  • Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925


The Application Process

If you have a licence under one of the above pieces of legislation that is in force on 1st October 2018, it will continue to be valid until it is due to expire. You will then need to apply for a licence under the new regulations. If your existing licence is due to expire before 1st October 2018 then you will need to apply to renew it under the existing laws; it will remain valid until it expires at which point you will need to apply for a new licence under the new regulations.

We will write to all current licence holders with licences which will shortly expire, to invite them to apply for a new licence. Ideally an application for a licence under the new regulations should be made no later than 10 weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for the application to be dealt with. When available a standard application form will be made available on our website.



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 they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare - i.e. mental and physical health, feeding, and knowledge of environmental enrichment.
  • 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 inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the licence duration (either 1, 2 or 3 years), but also a star rating which will be given to a business. If the applicant is not happy with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, submit an appeal, or ask for re-inspection.



Scoring Matrix

Welfare Standards

Minor Failings

Minimum Standards

Higher Standards


Low Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

3 Star

(2 year licence)

5 Star

(3 year licence)

Higher Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

2 Star

(1 year licence)

4 Star

(2 year licence)

Duration of licences

Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either 1, 2 or 3 years. During inspection we will consider two main aspects:

  • Firstly the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including records, staffing, the environment, diet, and the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', 'minimum standards' are achieved or 'higher standards' have been met.

  • Secondly, the risk, which is largely based on the history of compliance of the business, and also upon the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.

As this is a new regime, it is likely that in the first instance most operators will achieve either a 1 or 2 star rating, and the licence will initially last for 1 year.

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.


Chichester District Council is yet to set the fees that will be charged for licences under the new regulations. Once the fees have been approved, they will be available to view on our website.

Dangerous Wild Animals and Zoos

The new regulations do not have any impact upon licences issued under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.



Animal boarding

Business and private dwellings used for providing accommodation to other people's cats or dogs are described as animal boarding establishments and should be licensed under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963. Boarding establishments are inspected by authorised Council Officers or Veterinary Surgeons. Licences have a number of conditions attached to them covering the accommodation in which animals are kept, the adequacy of food, drink and exercise, control of disease spread, protection of animals from fire or other emergency, and a register of animals. Licences normally run for one year, but always expire on 31 December. The fees can be found in our ******.

Application for a licence to operate an animal boarding establishment 

Application to change an animal boarding establishment licence

Application to renew an animal boarding establishment licence 

Dangerous wild animals

We issue licences under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The Act does not apply to Zoos, Circuses, Pet Shops or to establishments registered for carrying out animal experiments. Chichester District Council has a power of entry and inspection of premises which hold a Licence and may seize any dangerous wild animals which is being kept on the premises if the animal is unlicensed, or where any condition of the Licence is not being complied with. Areas considered in respect of issuing a Licence include the accommodation, which should be secure, and suitable in respect of its construction size, temperature, lighting, ventilation, draining and cleanliness. The accommodation must be supplied with adequate and suitable food, drink and bedding material and must be visited at suitable intervals. There must also be emergency provisions, such as in respect of fire or in cases of infectious disease. Further information can be found on the DEFRA web site. The fees can be found in our *********.

word icon Dangerous Wild Animal Application Form [459kb]

pdf icon The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 [48kb]

Dog breeding

Anyone who breeds dogs as a business or produces, for sale, 5 or more litters of puppies per year needs to be licensed under the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 amended by the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999. On receipt of an application, the information provided will be assessed, and if satisfied an officer and, either a veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner will arrange to inspect the premises and prepare a report on the premises and applicant. This report will be taken into consideration before granting a licence. Conditions are imposed which restrict the number of litters that each bitch can have, require identification of puppies and specify the records that must be kept. Once granted, a licence is valid for one year and is renewable annually. The fees can be found in our *********.

Application for a licence to keep a dog breeding establishment


Pet shops

The sale of animals as pets needs to be licensed under the Pet Animals Act 1951. Invertebrates are not included. Conditions, attached to licences, control the accommodation in which animals are kept, the adequacy of food and drink, prevention of disease spread, fire precautions and the age at which animals can be sold. Pets must not be sold in streets or to children under 12. Sale of animals at bird or reptile fairs or similar is normally illegal. Licences normally run for one year, always expire on 31 December. The fees can be found in our ********. Officers inspect Pet Shops, if necessary with a vet, to ensure compliance with conditions.

Application for a licence to keep a pet shop

Riding establishments

Stables which hire out horses or ponies for riding or instruction must be licensed under the Riding Establishments Act 1964, as amended. Livery stables are not included. A riding establishment will be inspected regularly to ensure that the accommodation is suitable in size and design and well maintained. The horses/ponies will undergo a veterinary inspection to ensure that they are in good health and physically fit for the purpose. Once granted, a licence is valid for one year from the day on which it comes into force. Conditions are attached to licences, to ensure animal welfare and also to help secure the safety of riders. Public Liability Insurance is required. The fees can be found in our ********.

Application for a licence to operate a riding establishment

Application to change a riding establishment licence


The Zoo Licensing Act 1981 applies to any establishment, other than a Circus or Pet Shop, where wild animals are kept for public exhibition on more than seven days in any consecutive twelve months. Licences are granted initially for four years and thereafter are normally renewable every six years. The Secretary of State for the Environment has specified standards of modern Zoo practice to which Local Authorities must have regard. These can be found on the DEFRA web site. Inspections of zoos are required under the Act and local authorities carry them out with two inspectors nominated by the Secretary of State and up to three appointed by the local authority, at least one of whom will be a veterinary surgeon or practitioner. The fees can be found in our ********.

Notification to operate a zoo

Application for a licence to operate a zoo

Application to change a zoo licence

Application to renew a zoo licence