Licence - Pet Shop

When is a licence required?

Schedule 1 of The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 suggests that a licence is required where:

"2.  Selling animals as pets (or with a view to their being later resold as pets) in the course of a business including keeping animals in the course of a business with a view to their being so sold or resold.

3.  The activity described in paragraph 2 does not include—

(a) selling animals in the course of an aquacultural production business authorised under regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, or

(b) the activity described in paragraph 8 (Breeding dogs)".


There is further guidance that a council must take into account in determining whether an activity is being carried on in the course of a business for the purposes of this Schedule include, for example, whether the operator— (a) makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or (b) earns any commission or fee from the activity. There is also government advice that anyone with a trading income of less than £1,000 should not be considered to be operating a business.

UPDATE: From 6 April 2020 the Government introduced an amendment to the Regulations. Known as Lucys' Law it  means that anyone wanting to get a new puppy or kitten in England must now buy direct from a breeder, or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months.  Follow this link for more information

In scope criteria

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:

  1. The import, distribution and sale of animals by a business.
  2. Businesses registered with Companies House.
  3. Businesses or individuals operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes (it should be noted that many may not be listed with Companies House).
  4. Premises open to members of the public or to other businesses where animals are available for purchase.

Out of scope criteria

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are not subject to licensing:

  1. The infrequent sale of a small number of surplus offspring/excess stock by a private individual who breeds animals as a hobby, for pleasure, exhibition for prize, or for education, study or scientific advancement. For low value species that may produce large numbers of excess stock, consideration should be given to the value of the stock and the likelihood that the seller is making a profit.
  2. Organised events where people meet to sell surplus animals they have bred, or animals that are surplus to their requirements, whether or not this is open to the public. Selling pet animals as a business from a market or stall is prohibited under Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951.
  3. Aquacultural Production Businesses that are authorised under regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, and that are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate.

Guidance and Conditions

Details of the conditions which licence holders need to meet are detailed in the Guidance notes for conditions for selling animals as pets (see link below). General conditions apply in respect of:

  • Licence display
  • Records
  • Use, number and type of animal
  • Staffing
  • Suitable environment
  • Suitable diet
  • Monitoring of behaviour and training of animals
  • Animal handling and interactions
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
  • Emergencies

Specific, extra conditions for dog breeding set out rules for:

  • Records and advertisements
  • Prospective sales: pet care and advice
  • Suitable Accommodation
  • Purchase and sale of animals
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Before a licence is issued an inspection will be undertaken by an experienced council animal licensing officer. This will include a visit from a vet for a new licence holder.

Where a licence holder is expected to have written plans, procedures, or documented checks, officers will wish to see these as part of the inspection.

A licence with a score of one star can be issued to a previously licensed business if they have 'minor failings' which are predominantly administrative or if they are in relation to standards, they do not compromise the welfare of the animals. New applicants can only be licenced if they meet or exceed the minimum standards. Businesses meeting minimum standards will be graded 2 or 3 stars. Those meeting the higher standards, as laid down in the guidance, will score 4 or 5 stars.

Refund Policy

Please note that refunds of licence fees are not normally given. Only in exceptional circumstances, as deemed by the Licensing Manager, will a refund be considered. Any refunds given may be subject to an administration charge.

Applying for a licence

Application form: Application Form PDF     

Guidance:  Guidance PDF (867KB)

Inspection check list: Checklist PDF (972KB)

Apply online:  Not Currently Available


Appealing against an application refusal or grading

Please contact Environmental Health on 01782 717717 in the first instance.


Last updated 9 July 2021

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