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Licence - Animals for Exhibition

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:

"10. Keeping or training animals for exhibition in the course of a business for educational or entertainment purposes—

(a) to any audience attending in person, or

(b) by the recording of visual images of them by any form of technology that enables the display of such images.

11.  The activity described in paragraph 10 does not include—

(a) keeping or training animals solely for military, police or sporting purposes,

(b) any activity permitted under a licence to operate a travelling circus under the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012, or

(c) any activity permitted under a licence for a zoo under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981".

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.

In scope criteria

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

  1. Businesses which keep animals for exhibition, either for entertainment or educational purposes. This includes mobile animal exhibits that visit schools, weddings, private parties, fairs and other events where an audience is present.
  2. Pony parties where the ponies are not ridden.
  3. Businesses which keep animals for exhibition via electronic media, for example, animals used in films or TV.
  4. Businesses which train animals for exhibition, either to an audience or via electronic media.
  5. Exhibiting domestic animals in a circus.
  6. Any business based outside of England that brings in an animal for exhibition. These businesses must apply to the first authority in which they will be performing or where the animals are to be kept for the duration of their stay.

Out of scope criteria

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

  1. Agents who organise for the exhibition of animals, but do not own them or train them themselves and thus have limited or no contact with the animals. Agents who arrange for the supply of animals for an exhibit should ensure all keepers and trainers are licensed and comply with the Regulations.
  2. Animal shows where animals are exhibited (for example Crufts, animal trade shows). If individual participants are in the business of exhibiting animals and receive a fee for doing so, they will need to have a licence, but the show itself does not require a licence as it is not responsible for the animals exhibited.
  3. Training or exhibiting animals for military or police purposes (that is, training police dogs, demonstrations of police/military dogs at fairs).
  4. Registered charities that exhibit animals as part of their charitable work, unless such registered charities are in practice running this element of their operations as a commercial activity.
  5. Training or exhibiting animals for sporting purposes, for example, horse racing and greyhound racing.
  6. Exhibiting wild animals within a licensed circus.
  7. Licensed zoos.


Guidance and Conditions

Details of the conditions which licence holders need to meet are detailed in the Guidance notes for conditions for keeping or training animals for exhibition (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 keeping or training animals for exhibition set out rules for:

  • Insurance
  • Emergencies
  • Suitable environment
  • Monitoring behaviour and training
  • Housing with or apart from other animals
  • Records
  • 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 will run for a fixed period of three years.

Please Note: 'Performing Animals' registered before 1 October 2018 do not require a licence until 1 April 2019


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 (616K)

Inspection check list: Checklist PDF (1.1M)

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 22 July 2021

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