Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018

The law governing the licensing of animal welfare establishments is changing from the 1 October 2018.

This has been done in order to bring the licensing regime up to date with local government regulation and improving animal care standards and make it compatible with the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The full list of guidance documents are available through the web links below or the documents section on this page:

Understanding the new changes

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:

  • Licences can be issued for one, two or three years.
  • The fees will need to be 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 for both businesses and inspectors.
  • A performance rating system is to be introduced and linked to the period of the licence.
  • Licenses can be varied, suspended or revoked.
  • An appeals process is established for both alterations to the licence and the performance rating.
  • Emphasis is put 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 and may be an arrangement with the attending 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.

Premises presently holding an Animal Licence

Will all be contacted by the Council to make them aware of the changes.

New applications

Anyone wishing to apply for a new Licence is strongly advised to speak to a member of Environmental Health team before making an application.

Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into force on 6 April 2007.

The aim of the Act is to improve the welfare of animals, impose greater responsibility on their carers, and provide greater investigation and entry powers for police and local authority staff to deal with offences.

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

Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act

Depending on the type of offence and animals involved, enforcement is shared between the RSPCA, Police, Local Authorities and DEFRA.


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.

Additional information

A change is likely to the licensing or registration of activities involving animals, such as, riding schools, pet shops and animal boarding establishments, which may involve risk-based inspections. Licensing of livery yards, racing greyhounds and animal sanctuaries is also being considered.

If you know about an animal that is injured or being treated cruelly, please call the RSPCA's national 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999 or, visit the RSPCA website.

You are advised to read the new Regulations and Conditions carefully, to ensure you will be fully compliant by the commencement date which can be found at .

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