Search site

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 are all 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. We cannot change these conditions as they are already set in the legislation - 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 came into effect on 1st October 2018 and replaced the licensing and registration previously in place under the 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, and the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925

The Application Process

If you have a licence under one of the above pieces of legislation, it will remain valid until it is due to expire. You will then need to apply for a licence under the new regulations. 

Existing Registrations of a person under the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 will continue until their expiry on 1 April 2019.

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. Due to delays in publishing of the application forms below, this has not been possible; we will send out reminders as soon as we can, and understand the uncertainty faced by operators during this transitional period.

To apply for a new licence, please complete the relevant application form below. You may wish to read the fees information below first. 

If you wish to apply to undertake any additional activities, please complete the relevant add-on document below. You will not need to enter you personal information and declaration again, as these are included on the main application. Note - dog day care is included in a licence application for dog boarding - a separate application is not required. 

docs icon Animal boarding add-on [83kb], docs icon Breeding dogs add-on [88kb]docs icon Hiring out horses add-on [110kb], docs icon Selling animals as pets add-on [108kb], docs icon Keeping or training animals for exhibition add-on [101kb]

Please send completed applications either by email to or mail to Environmental Health, New Forest District Council, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, SO43 7PA.

Please see Fees and Charges 2018/2019 for details of the fee relevant to the animal activity or activities you are undertaking.

You can pay by bank transfer: our details are Lloyds Bank Plc, account code 29293160, sort code 30 80 63 (please quote your current licence number), by visiting one of the NFDC offices, or by cheque.


All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • 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'.

Staff should have 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. They should also have 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. There should be training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.


Duration of licences

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, and ask for re-inspection.

This matrix does not apply to the activity of keeping or training animals for exhibition, which will all receive a 3 year licence.

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)

A new applicant who does not have a compliance history with this Authority or a relevant UKAS qualification will automatically be considered higher risk. Existing operators with a compliance history may be classed as low or higher risk, and consequently may receive a licence for up to 3 years.

A premises with a lower star rating is not one to avoid and may have very high standards. It may simply be a newer operator who is yet to have a proven history of compliance.


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.

Updated: 13 Nov 2018
Powered by GOSS iCM