Animal welfare licence

We license businesses involved in dog breeding, dog and cat boarding (including home boarding), dog day care, the selling of pet animals and the exhibiting of animals. 

These activities are all covered under a single type of licence, known as an animal activity licence. 

This does not apply to licensing for exotic, dangerous and wild animals or zoo licensing.

On this page:

Apply for an animal activity licence

Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for it to be administered. 

To apply for a new animal activity licence, download the relevant application form below.

Icon for word Animal boarding application form [478KB]
Icon for word Breeding dogs application form [484.5KB]
Icon for word Hiring out horses application form [513.5KB]
Icon for word Selling animals as pets application form [512.5KB]
Icon for word Keeping or training animals for exhibition application form [502KB]

If you wish to be licensed for more than one activity, complete one application form above, plus the relevant 'add-on' document below. You will not need to enter your personal information and declaration on the 'add-on', as these are included on the main application.

Dog boarding includes dog day care so a separate application is not required. 

Icon for word Animal boarding add-on [98KB]
Icon for word Breeding dogs add-on [103.5KB]
Icon for word Hiring out horses add-on [133.5KB]
Icon for word Selling animals as pets add-on [137.5KB]
Icon for word Keeping or training animals for exhibition add-on [121KB]


If you are renewing an existing licence, you do not have to resend all of your operating procedures with the application unless you have amended them. If amendments have been made, you only need to include the new or amended procedures with your application. 

However, please do include with your application copies of any new insurance policies, details of training undertaken since your last renewal, including the record of any cpd attended, any changes to staff or any significant changes to the business. This information will help to address some of the questions and areas that we need to consider during an inspection visit.    

Payment and Fees

You can pay by cheque at one of our Information Offices, or by bank transfer to:

Lloyds Bank Plc
Account code: 29293160
Sort code: 30 80 63

You must ensure that you have paid the full relevant fee before submitting your application. This will prevent delays in your application being processed.  Please also include a Payment Reference when you pay. For renewals, please supply your licence number as a payment reference in order for us to identify your payment. If you are a new applicant please use either your Surname or Business Trading Name.

Following payment, send your completed application form, annotated with the date and method of payment, by email to or by post to:

Environmental and Regulation
New Forest District Council
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

Table of fees for animal welfare licences

Licence nameLicence fee
Pet shops£276
Dog breeding£316
Cat or dog boarding£297
Home boarding for dogs£225
Dog day care£225
Horse riding establishment (up to nine horses)£440
Horse riding establishment (10 to 19 horses)£501
Horse riding establishment (20 or more horses)£541
Keeping animals for exhibition£276
Re-rating InspectionFee
Fee for a Re-rating£185
Licence VariationFee
Variation to licence, charge based on 45 minutes officer time. Additional time charged pro-rata£30 minimum

Additional costs

  • Dog breeding applications will be charged for a vet inspection.
  • Horse riding establishments will be charged for a vet inspection on application and yearly throughout licence term.

If we refuse to issue a licence,  a proportion of the total fee will be refunded. This is typically about £50.

Guidance documents

The legislation is accompanied by new nationally set licence conditions. These are contained in Schedules 3 to 7 of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

The following documents provide the activities contained in the regulations, along with the up to date guidance. This is available to operators in achieving compliance, and to inspectors when undertaking an inspection.

Icon for pdf Boarding in kennels for dogs guidance [457.45KB]
Icon for pdf Home boarding for dogs guidance [598.69KB]
Icon for pdf Day care for dogs guidance [461.71KB]
Icon for pdf Breeding dogs guidance [649.97KB]
Icon for pdf Boarding for cats guidance [1.22MB]
Icon for pdf Selling animals as pets guidance [994.52KB]
Icon for pdf Hiring out horses guidance [496.61KB]
Icon for pdf Exhibition of animals guidance [616.3KB]


All premises will be inspected before a licence is granted. We will look at the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including:

  • records
  • staffing
  • the environment
  • diet
  • 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.

We also examine 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, including:

  • mental and physical health
  • feeding
  • knowledge of environmental enrichment.

Staff 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 licence

Businesses operating with the above activities will be assessed to make sure they comply with the conditions before a licence is given. The duration of new licences will be set in accordance with Government guidelines for one, two or three years (except the keeping or training of animals for exhibition which last three years in every case), depending on compliance history, the perceived risk rating (low or high) and the level of welfare standards observed. 

Businesses are also given a star rating. Low-risk premises can be awarded up to five stars, and high-risk premises up to four stars. New businesses are assessed as slightly higher risk because there is no history of good practice. Conversely, a premises with a good compliance history may be classed as low risk, and thus may receive a licence for up to three years.

A premise 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.

Licence variation

Should it be necessary to vary the licence after it has been issued, this may be possible. We will not unduly delay any reasonable request, but you should not undertake any additional activities until you have received confirmation. For example it is possible to alter the animals on a licence at any time duration the length of the licence. Any requests should be by email to Please give us as much detail as possible, e.g. name type and breed of animal, and microchip and passport details if applicable. We will contact you if additional information or a visit is required. We will send an email confirmation and issue a new licence.  In line with our fees policy, we will charge £40 per hour for licence variation, with a minimum £30 fee.

Adding Horses to a licence

Before a horse can be used in a riding school it must be added to the licence.  In order, for us to do this we require a veterinary report from your vet. This report must include name of horse, age, breed, microchip number and passport number. The vet should look at the eyes, heart and feet of the horse, trot it up and look at the fitting of the tack and whether it is suitable for tasks intended eg, hacking, lessons etc. This report should be emailed to us with details of the request. The email should be sent to It will take 3 working days for us to process any requests.  We will send an email confirmation and issue a new licence. The horse can not be used in a lesson or by the public until you have received email confirmation. This will incur a £30 fee. 

Change of address

If you change address your licence is no longer valid, as the inspection involves an assessment of the facilities at the property. You must contact us on either 02380 285411 or email and inform us. You will need to complete a new application form and pay the appropriate fee. We will then contact you and arrange an inspection of the new premises. Please be aware that you must not board any animals until the new licence is in place.

Request for re-rating

You may request a re-rating inspection if you have carried out works which you believe will improve your star rating.

A re-rating inspection fee of £185 will be charged.

The request must be made in writing or by email to It must outline the action that has been taken 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 identified in the inspection that would need to be made to achieve a higher rating. If you do not supply sufficient information, we may not be able to undertake the re-rating inspection. Any successful re-inspection will be carried out within three months of receipt of the request.  

Following a re-inspection, the rating could go up, down or remain the same.

Appeal against your star rating

If you do not agree with the star rating or believe that it is unfair, you should speak to the inspecting officer in the first instance. They will explain how the rating was worked out, and may help to resolve the matter without the need for a formal appeal to be made. 

If you still think that the rating is incorrect, you can appeal. This must be submitted in writing, including by email to, within 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) following the issue of your licence. 

An fee will be charged to determine an appeal, which will be refunded should a higher rating be awarded. The appeal will be determined within 21 days of date of receipt (including weekends and bank holidays). It will be undertaken by a senior officer not involved in the production of the inspection rating.

Further details on the appeal process are available on request.

Public register

We publish a public register of all animal activity licences awarded to businesses in New Forest.

Trade associations

You may be interested in the Pet Industry Federation or the Association of Dog Boarders.

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