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Animal Welfare and Business Licences

Animal Welfare and Business Licences

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 provide a single licensing regime for a number of animal licensing activities. The Council is responsible for providing authorisations relating to the sale, display, keeping and use of animals.

The legislation is designed to provide high welfare standards and levels of care for animals by promoting and ensuring that the five key needs are met:

  • need for a suitable environment
  • need for a suitable diet
  • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns (such as exercise)
  • need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Those undertaking the following activities must hold a licence:

  • selling animals as pets
  • providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs (including day care)
  • hiring out horses
  • breeding dogs
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

The definition of existing licensable activities now includes activities arranged on the Internet, such as the sale of animals as pets.

Under the Regulations a licensable activity means an activity carried on in the course of a business. An activity could, for example, be carried out if the business operator either:

  • makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit
  • earns any commission or fee from the activity

Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with the new conditions, and will be assessed before a licence is granted to make sure they can meet them.

Who needs a licence? Toggle accordion

People who run animal businesses will have to register for a licence with their local council.

You must contact St Albans Council if you are a:

  • dog day boarder
  • keeper of exhibition, entertainment or educational animals including: falconry displays, dove releases, animal encounter experiences, or pat-a-pony days
  • dog breeder
  • kennel/cattery operator
  • pet seller
  • horse riding establishment

These groups will be covered by the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

Anyone who belongs to one of these groups and does not register, could be guilty of an offence.

  • Anyone who is unsure as to whether they require a licence should email

Guidance Documents Toggle accordion

How to Apply Toggle accordion

For new applicants and renewals, download and complete the relevant form(s) below.

Please note: If you are carrying out more than one activity, please download the additional form(s) and attach together.

When you have completed and signed your application, you can submit this with the relevant accompanying documents to: 

Please also ensure that a payment is made for your application. The application cannot be processed until the relevant fee has been submitted.

 After we receive your application, we will contact you to arrange an inspection. Our inspector will apply a risk rating and will award one to five stars. The number of stars you are awarded determines whether you are granted a licence for one, two or three years.

Application Forms

Documents to help with your application

Fee Information Toggle accordion

The relevant licence fee is due when you submit your application. This fee covers all costs associated with determining the licence application including administration and the main inspection fee where your premises is rated. Please note the fee is non-refundable should we refuse your application.

The fee does not include the unannounced compliance visit, which is a mandatory requirement during the length of your licence period for each licensable activity.

Please refer to the table below for the fee breakdown.

Licence type Fee
Home Boarding £448.00
Commercial Doggy day care £623.00
Boarding for Cats £549.00
Boarding for Dogs £549.00
Selling animals as pets £536.00
Horses for Hire £615.00
Animals for Exhibition £374.00
Dog Breeder £544.00

All licence fees include 1 mid term inspection except for Animals for Exhibition.

If your licence requires a veterinary inspection you will be invoiced after your inspection. 

Additional Chargeable
Re-rating inspection £133
Additional Complience inspection £96.00
Variation/transfer fee £59.00

Inspections Toggle accordion

All premises will be inspected before a licence is granted to ensure that all licence conditions can be met. We will also be looking to ensure that the applicant demonstrates the following:

  • Specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This includes the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
  • 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.

Based on the information, we will assess the premises, carry out a risk rating and award a star rating. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars.

Star Ratings Toggle accordion

Each animal business that falls within the scope of licensing is inspected by an officer and given a rating from one to five stars. The only exception being those businesses that keep or train animals for exhibition, which do not receive a star rating and the licence is issued for three years. 

Star ratings are calculated using a scoring matrix which is shown below. This matrix looks at the risk of business as well as the level of standards they meet.

Star Rating Scoring Matrix


Key to star ratings

5 – an established business meeting all required standards plus the higher standard conditions.

4 – a new business or business with less than 1 year compliance history meeting all required standards plus the higher standard conditions.

3 – an established business meeting all the required standard conditions.

2 – a new business or business with less than 1 year compliance history meeting all the required standard conditions.

1 – an established business that has a few minor failings (no welfare compromise).



Further documents you may find useful Toggle accordion

There are no changes to Dangerous Wild Animals Licences or Zoo Licences as they are governed under different legislation. (The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981).

Restrictions Toggle accordion

You will not get a licence if you’ve committed an animal welfare offence or if you’ve been banned from:

  • hiring out horses
  • selling pets
  • boarding cats or dogs
  • breeding dogs
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

Fines and penalties Toggle accordion

You may be fined an unlimited amount or imprisoned for up to 6 months if you provide or arrange boarding for cats or dogs without a licence or do not follow the conditions of your licence.

Your licence can be taken away if you stop or delay an inspection, and you could be banned from running an animal boarding establishment.

If you need any more information please email 

Public Register Toggle accordion

Please visit the Public Register Of Licences And Registrations

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for on the public register please send your request 

Contact Details
Licensing Service

St Albans City & District Council, Civic Centre, St Peter's St, St Albans AL1 3JE
Tel: 01727 819264