Frequently asked questions about animal licensing.
I bought a canary and now have to sell it after a few days
Guidance notes for selling animals as pets – In Scope Criteria, see 3rd guideline
Where animals are bought and then re-advertised for sale or sold within a short period of time. If you are advertising the animal for sale you would require a licence, unless the profit gained from this transaction were less than £1000 then no licence would apply. For more details please see the “Business test” within the guidance.
My dog is only having one litter and will be neutered, will I have to prove this?
Guidance notes for breeding dogs – Out of Scope – guideline indicators
We do not need to know if your dog is being neutered, but if the income from sales of the litter exceed £1000 or you have 3 litters in a 12 month period, then you will require a licence.
I have chickens and sell the eggs
This is not a licensing matter covered by the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (“the Regulations”) however you will require a food registration certificate AND it is preferable to advise the council that you are keeping birds on the premises. If at any time the council were to be informed by DEFRA of an outbreak of bird flu or any other bird virus, we would be able to contact you immediately with the relevant action you should take.
I have an aviary and just keep birds as pets
You do not require a licence unless birds are sold, however it is preferable to advise the council that you are keeping birds on your premises. If at any time the council were to be informed by DEFRA of an outbreak of bird flu or any other bird virus, we would be able to contact you immediately with the relevant action you should take.
I am certificated by a UKAS Accredited body, do you still need to inspect
Procedural Guidance for Animal Licensing Activity – para 70 and 71
Yes. Where a scheme utilising UKAS accredited certification is operational, it will be operated against either the minimum or higher standards as set out in the certification scheme criteria and as agreed with UKAS as part of the accreditation process. If a business is certified by a UKAS-accredited certification body to the higher standards, they should automatically be considered as meeting these standards, unless there is significant evidence of poor animal welfare or non-compliance is identified during the inspection.
How frequently do you conduct licensing visits/inspection?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Licensing Activity – paras 40-43 and 99-104
An inspection will be undertaken as part of the renewal process for a licence. For the activity of hiring out horses there is a requirement for an annual inspection by a listed vet even if there is a 2 or 3 year licence in place
A licence holder may request a re-inspection at any time and whilst there is no limit to the number of such re-inspection requests, there are fees implications to doing so and the Council is not required to adhere to the request for re—inspection. An unannounced visit will be made at once during the term of the licence for compliance
I'm already boarding, what should I do?
You are not permitted to continue boarding cats or dogs until you have been granted a licence so please apply for a license immediately.
What happens if I don't bother getting a licence?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Licensing Activity – paras 53
You can be prosecuted by the Council under provisions of Section 30 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Anyone who carries on any of the licensable activities without a licence is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of up to six months, a fine or both.
What happens if my premises don’t comply with new conditions?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Licensing Activity
We recommend you familiarise yourself with the requirements as set out in the relevant guidance. You will not be awarded a new licence if you fail to comply with the new conditions.
I look after cats and dogs in their own home as sitter
Guidance for home boarding cats / dogs – Out of Scope
No licence is required.
My dog had puppies and I gave them away, do I need a licence
Guidance for breeding dogs – In Scope Criteria – para 1
No. If you have made no profit from the sales of puppies and not advertised them for sale. You may have to provide evidence of the gifted transfer.
How many litters of puppies can I breed before I require a licence?
Guidance for breeding dogs – In Scope Criteria – paras 1-9
If the income from sales of the litter exceed £1000 or you have 3 litters in a 12 month period, then you will require a licence.
I have bought a franchise. Will I get the same star rating as other franchisees?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 9
No. All premises are inspected and rated on an individual basis regardless of association.
What relevant documentation do I need to present with my application?
These are listed on the application form. They include, but are not limited to:
- Plan of the premises
- Insurance Policy
- Operating Procedures
- Risk Assessments (Including Fire)
- Infection Control Procedure
- Training Records
For what other reasons would the council visit my pet shop/premises?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Paras 42, 93, 10
If a complaint or other information is received which suggests license conditions are not being complied with or there is the potential that the welfare of animals is at risk.
If the premises have requested a re-inspection or there has been an appeal against a rating decision which requires a re-inspection.
A routine unannounced inspection during the duration of an existing license.
For the activity of hiring out horses there is a requirement for an annual inspection by a listed vet even if there is a 2 or 3 year licence in place.
What happens if I want to change my operations?
If you make any changes to your business, please contact the licensing team to confirm if a re-inspection will be required. You may need to vary your licence or apply to add a new activity.
Can I start my business whilst I wait for my licence?
No. You must wait until your business has been inspected and your licence has been granted.
Are you going to be inspecting my whole house or just where the pets are?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 47 and 48
An inspector may not enter any part of premises which is used as a private dwelling unless 24 hours’ notice of the intended entry is given to the occupier, parts of the premises which are not a private dwelling may be entered by an inspector if the premises is specified in a licence as premises on which the carrying on of an activity is authorised or is a premises on which he reasonably believes an activity to which a licence relates is being carried on.
A justice of the peace can issue a warrant authorising an inspector or a constable to enter a premises on the request of an inspector or constable using reasonable force if necessary in order to search for evidence of the commission of a relevant offence.
Do I need to carry out a risk assessment every year?
You will need to comply with all of the license conditions at all times and should risk assess on a regular basis, including in relation to fire risks. We will require an annual copy of your risk assessment.
What counts as selling animals as pets?
A Pet Shop licence will not exist after 1 October 2018. On order to sell animals you will require a Selling Animals as Pets Licence. This licence encompasses anyone that sells animals as pets in the course of a business.
If you are breeding dogs, in the course of a business, then you require a Dog Breeding Licence.
Why has the Government decided to change the law?
DEFRA has stated that:
“The Government is committed to improving the effectiveness of existing regulation whilst lifting the regulatory burdens on businesses to support growth, productivity and innovation. These proposals should relieve the administrative burden on local authorities, simplify the application and inspection process for businesses, as well as maintain and improve existing animal welfare standards by modernising the current animal licensing system in England.”
What activities require a licence under the new regulations and where can I find more information?
Those carrying on the following licensable activities will require a licence under the new regulations which can be found on our website:
- Boarding for Cats
- Dog Boarding Kennels
- Breeding Dogs
- Day Care for Dogs
- Home Boarding for Dogs
- Keeping and Training Animals for Exhibition
- Hiring out Horses
- Selling Animals as Pets
What happens to my existing licence after 1 October 2018?
Your licence which expires on 31 December 2018 will continue to be valid under the conditions that it was issued under until that date.
What If my establishment has not been inspected before my licence expires?
All applications for renewals should arrive at the council offices as soon as possible but at least 10 weeks before your licence expires. If it is received after this date, we may not be able to guarantee your inspection will take place before expiry of your current license.
We therefore strongly encourage you to make your application in plenty of time.
What if I do not have the finances or time to make the changes to my cattery/kennels to increase the size of pens?
You will not be eligible for a new licence unless you make the changes in good time ready for the inspection or reduce the amount of animals you board. The licence conditions must be met by all establishments whether commercial or home based premises.
I breed cats and sell them to my local pet shop to sell on, do I need a licence?
Yes, if you are breeding and selling any animal you will require a Selling Animals as Pets licence regardless how they are sold.
How long will a licence under the new regulations last for?
Licences will last for one, two or three years based on an assessment of risk and whether or not minimum or higher standards are met.
Licences for keeping animals for training and exhibition will be for 3 years and not risk assessed.
What conditions will be attached to licences issued under the new regulations?
For every activity undertaken on the premises, general licence conditions contained within Schedule 2 of the regulations apply.
Specific licence conditions are also attached per activity and are contained in Schedule 3-7 of the regulations.
How do the regulations affect licences issued under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981?
The new regulations do not have any impact on the licensing of those who keep dangerous wild animals or operate zoos. Licences for these activities will continue to be issued under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.
I have a collection of animals that I take to schools and events to exhibit occasionally what do I need to do?
Guidance for Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 Para 61
You will be required to have a licence issued by your local authority which you take with you to any event. The environment in which the animals are kept will be inspected prior to the consideration for an issue of a licence. This licence will be issued to be valid for 3 years unless revoked or suspended for any reason.
Do I need a licence to do dog walking or dog grooming?
Guidance notes for providing day care for dogs – In Scope Criteria Paras 1 & 37.
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018
No these activities are not licensable. However, if you carry out dog grooming and the dog continues to stay in the care of the groomer for a large part of the day, then this may be classified as providing day care for dogs.
If you are walking dogs and pick up / drop off at the owners’ premises several times a day, then you do not require a licence.
If you walk dogs and care for them in your own home in between each walk, then this will be classified as dog day care for which you will require a licence.
What do I do if I see an advert for the sale of puppies either on line or elsewhere or I am offered a puppy for sale that appears to be illegal what shall I do?
If you suspect an animal has been illegally imported, within Greater London, please call immediately on 020 8745 7894. Corporation of London animal health inspectors are on call 24-hours a day and you will be given the contact number of the duty officer who can help you. Any advert offering a dog for sale in the course of a business should display their licence number and local authority that issued the licence.
If I run an animal rescue service where animals are kept until they are rehomed what do I need to do?
Animal rescue services are not required to be licensed, however they are subject to inspection should there be concerns about animal welfare.
Do I need planning permission to run a business from home in relation to animals?
If you intend to carry out any business from home or an establishment you must consult your local planning department.
Is the docking of dogs tails legal?
If the puppy you breed is going to be a working dog, it may be docked as long as it is sold with a certificate from the vet proving that it is at risk of tail damage if not shortened.
Grounds for suspension, variation without consent or revocation of a licence
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 25-35
Regulation 11 and Schedule 8 of the Regulations
A local authority may, without any requirement for the licence holder’s consent, decide to suspend, vary or revoke a licence at any time on being satisfied that—
(a) the licence conditions are not being complied with,
(b) there has been a breach of these Regulations,
(c) information supplied by the licence holder is false or misleading, or
(d) it is necessary to protect the welfare of an animal.
In addition, you should be aware that if you are a “disqualified person” or a person who having held a license has a license previously revoked – any license granted or renewed or held by you is automatically revoked
Do I have to have my dog microchipped?
All dog owners are responsible for ensuring their dogs are microchipped and recorded with a government compliant microchip database, regardless of whether they got the dog before the legislation on microchipping came into effect (2016). If your dog has not been microchipped, you must have this done by an authorised implanter. Failure to do so can result in the keeper being fined up to £500. Dog breeders, meanwhile, must ensure that puppies are microchipped and recorded by the time they are eight weeks old and before they are sold.
If a dog isn't microchipped the local authority will serve a notice on the dog's keeper requiring that they get the dog microchipped within 21 days. If the keeper fails to comply with the notice then they can be prosecuted and fined. The local authority can then seize the dog, implant a microchip and recover the cost from the keeper. Croydon Councils dog warden offers a dog chipping service. Please call the dog warden on 07881501467 for further information.
Can an inspector turn up unannounced and enter my premises?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Licensing Activity – paras 47-50 and page 16 the scoring matrix
Parts of the premises which are not a private dwelling may be entered by an inspector if the premises are specified in a licence as premises on which the carrying on of an activity is authorised or is a premises on which he reasonably believes an activity to which a licence relates is being carried on.
Unannounced inspections can also be carried out and should be used in the case of complaints or other information that suggests licence conditions are not being complied with or that the welfare of the animals involved in a licensed activity is at risk.
An inspector may not enter any part of the premises which is used as a private dwelling unless 24 hours’ notice of the intended entry is given to the occupier.
Where businesses have a licence for multiple activities within the scope of the regulations, should each activity be rated separately?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 85
The licence holder should receive only one rating, which must cover all the activities. Where they are meeting different standards for different activities (e.g. meeting the higher standards for dog breeding, but the minimum standards for dog boarding), the overall score should reflect the lower of the two.
Will the star rating impact on my business?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 67-69
Star ratings are based on the standards found upon inspection.
Any new business is not permitted to have any minor failings. They must reach the minimum standards as the lowest rating a new premises may receive is 2 Star.
Any renewal of licences may be awarded 1-5 stars.
1 Star rating indicates minor administrative failings.
2 to 3 Star ratings indicates that minimum standards have been achieved*
4 to 5 Star ratings indicates that higher standards have been achieved*
*dependant on length of licence granted
The Star rating will determine how many years your license may be granted for and how regularly you will receive unannounced inspection visits with the license period.
Should the Star Ratings be published?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 105
The star rating will be added to your licence. Your licence should be displayed by the business and posted on your website if you have one. In addition, the Statutory Guidance encourages Councils to maintain a list of licensed businesses and their associated ratings their website.
How exactly is the star rating for the purposes of licensing determined?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 61-66
Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either 1, 2 or 3 years. During inspection we will consider two main aspects (this is with the exception of a licence to train and exhibit animals which is valid for 3 years and is not star rated):
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'.
The inspection findings will be fed into the scoring matrix as shown within the Procedural Guidance which determines both the licence duration, and a star rating which will be given to a business.
What information should the local authority provide with the star rating following the inspection at which a rating was determined?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 86
The following information should be provided in writing:
- The star rating itself.
- Details of why the business was rated as it was. This should include a list of the higher standards that the business is currently failing to meet, or a list of the minimum standards that the business is failing to meet if it is considered to be in the minor failing category. This should also include a copy of the risk management table showing the scores under each point. Details recorded must be sufficient to support the score given for each element to facilitate internal monitoring or enable review where an appeal is made.
- Details of the appeals process and the deadline by which an appeal must be made.
Must the local authority accede to all requests for re-inspections?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 101
No. If the case made by the business is not substantiated or insufficient evidence is provided, the local authority can refuse to undertake a re-inspection on that basis. In doing so, the local authority must explain why the request is being refused at this stage and should re-emphasise the priority actions that must be taken in order to improve the rating and indicate what evidence will be required for agreement to a re-inspection to be made on further request. If the business disagrees with the local authority’s decision to refuse a request for a re-inspection, they can raise the issue with the head of the licensing department within the local authority. If the matter cannot be resolved, the business has recourse to the local authority complaints procedure.
Where there is a supporting case, must a re-inspection be made or can a new rating be given on the basis of documentary evidence?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 102
A re-inspection must be made. A new rating must not be given on the basis of documentary evidence only.
Where a re-inspection is to be undertaken, should this be unannounced?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 103
This will depend on the reason for the re-inspection. This can be by appointment, unless an unannounced visit is necessary to ensure that compliance is checked properly (e.g. if the non-compliance was related to cleanliness standards).
If standards have not improved or have deteriorated at the time of the re-inspection, should a lower rating be given?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 104
At the time of the re-inspection, the local authority officer should not only check that the required improvements have been made, but should also assess the ongoing standards. This means that the rating could go up, down or remain the same, change in licence length should be handled using the varying process described in paragraphs 25-35 of the Procedural Guidance referenced above.
How many re-inspections can a business request?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 99
There is no limit to the number of re-inspection visits a business can request, however, there will be a fee for each visit charged at full cost recovery.
How should a business request a re-inspection?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 100
The request should be made in writing (including by email) and should outline the case for a re-inspection, i.e. it should indicate the actions that have been taken by the business to improve the level of compliance or welfare since the inspection and, where appropriate, should include supporting evidence. The supporting case should refer to those actions that the local authority informed the business would need to be made in order to achieve a higher rating.
How can a business appeal their star rating?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 88-90
If a business wishes to appeal the star rating given by the ‘inspecting officer’ (i.e. the officer undertaking the inspection) on behalf of the local authority, the appeal should be made in writing (including by email) to the local authority.
A business disputing a rating should be encouraged to discuss this informally first with the ‘inspecting officer’ so that there is an opportunity to help explain to the business how the rating was worked out, as this may help resolve the matter without the business having to lodge an appeal. Any such discussions do not form part of the formal appeal process and do not change the deadline within which an appeal must be lodged. This should be made clear to the business so that they may lodge an appeal, and may subsequently withdraw it, if they wish.
Businesses have 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) following the issue of their licence in which to appeal the star rating.
How will a local authority determine the outcome of the appeal?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 91-93
The appeal should be determined either by the head of the department that issued the licence within the local authority, or by a designated deputy, or by the equivalent in another authority. No officer involved in the production of the rating, or in the inspection on which the rating is based should consider the appeal.
The local authority then has 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) from the date they receive the appeal to consider the appeal, within which time they must issue a decision to the business.
A local authority will determine the outcome of an appeal by considering the paperwork associated with the inspection and the past record of the business
.The appeal process should be transparent. The costs of any additional inspections related to the appeal will be borne by the applicant unless it results in a higher rating being awarded. This will depend on the nature of the dispute and whether a decision can or cannot be made on the basis of the paperwork.
What if the business disagrees with the outcome of the appeal?
Procedural Guidance for Animal Activity Licensing 2018 – Para 94
If the business disagrees with the outcome of the appeal, they can challenge the local authority’s decision by means of judicial review. The business also has recourse to the local authority complaints procedure (including taking the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman where appropriate) if they consider that a council service has not been properly delivered.
We keep animals at school, does this come under “keeping and training for exhibition”
No. This would only need a licence if they were taken to other schools to exhibit
Will reporting my pets’ illness affect my ratings?
No. Best practice is to record all veterinary treatment. It is not the illness that effects the rating but the way it is dealt with
Can an animal warden enter my house to take my pets if I am not licensed?
If a local authority officer has concerns regarding the welfare of animals that they believe an animal is suffering unnecessarily or if their circumstances do not change they will suffer the local authority can apply to the court under section 19 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for a warrant of entry into a domestic dwelling.
Under section 19 of the Animal Welfare act, an officer may enter a premise that is not a dwelling if they suspect there is a protected animal on site and that they believe to the suffering unnecessarily or if their circumstances do not change they will suffer.