Animal welfare and licensing

Animal welfare establishments with a licence

You can find out if a business is licensed to keep animals by looking at our list of animal welfare establishments.

In February 2023 the Council approved our first Animal Welfare Licensing Policy (PDF, 329KB). The Policy contains important information about applying for and holding an animal related licence, appeals processes and complaints. We recommend that all applicants and licence holders read the policy and contact us or email direct if you have any questions.

Activities needing a licence

The law governing the licensing of animal welfare establishments changed on the 1 October 2018 with the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations. 

The regulations apply to the following activities:

The following licences are not affected by the changes and are still covered by earlier legislation:

Licensing of livery yards, racing greyhounds, animal sanctuaries and rescue centres is being considered.

If you are making a new application, we advise you to read the relevant guidance and speak to an Animal Welfare Officer before you apply.

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It is important that licence holders understand the guidance relevant to their business but as a start your attention is drawn to the following key changes:

  • inspections are risk based 
  • a performance rating system is introduced and linked to the period of the licence
  • licences can be issued for one, two or three years.
  • the fees have been recalculated and based on “reasonable anticipated costs” of the process.
  • protection is provided for licences in the event of the death of the licence holder.
  • specific training qualifications have been introduced 
  • licenses can be varied, suspended or revoked
  • an appeals process is established for refusal of a licence,  alterations to the licence and the performance rating
  • emphasis is placed on the suitability of the environment for the particular needs of the animal
  • emphasis for animal welfare is put on the management arrangements.
  • isolation facilities must be adequate. They may take the form of an arrangement with your vet and confirmed in writing.
  • arrangements for suitable transport are included. Where the business has a web site it must display the licence holder's name and the licence number
  • service of documents can be made by email to the last known email address of the licence holder
  • the Council cannot issue a licence in any circumstances other than those described in the regulations

More information

Animal welfare issues

Under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is the duty of any person responsible for an animal to ensure that its welfare needs are met. These include:

  • the need for a suitable environment (how it is housed)
  • the need for a suitable diet (what it eats and drinks)
  • the need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • any need to be housed with or apart from other animals, and
  • the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease 

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For full details of the requirements covering animal welfare and licensing on farms, in transport, at markets and at slaughter, see GOV.UK

We support farmers to meet their legal requirements and we monitor compliance - see farming information.

We will respond to complaints regarding farm animal welfare and welfare complaints relating to premises which we license, including premises that it is believed should be licensed. You should make complaints regarding other animals, including domestic pets to the RSPCA.

The local authority, police or a member of the public can undertake a prosecution which can be started up to 3 years after the offence (as long as its is within 6 months of the evidence becoming available).


Penalties will vary, but the most serious offences could incur a fine of up to £20,000 and /or 51 weeks imprisonment. Powers will be available to impose disqualification orders banning a person from owning or looking after animals and either dealing or transporting animals.

For more information about spotting bird flu, what to do when you suspect it, and measures to protect birds from it, see GOV.UK

All businesses making animal feed, feed retailers, farms using or mixing feed, and hauliers transporting animal feed must register with us so we can monitor food safety - see feed hygiene enforcement

Contact us

0300 123 5015

Page last reviewed: 10 April 2024