Animal-related licences

Animal-related licences

This page provides details of the different licences you may need when dealing with animals.

Boarding animal licence

If you are planning to run a boarding kennel or cattery you will need a licence.

To contact us click here.

Animal boarding establishment licence summary
In order to run a boarding kennel or cattery you need a licence from the local authority, which will detail specific conditions you must abide by. A local authority may authorise an officer, veterinary surgeon or practitioner to inspect the premises. 
Animal boarding eligibility criteria
An applicant must not have had any criminal convictions resulting in them being disqualified from:
  • keeping an animal boarding establishment
  • keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951
  • keeping animals under the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954
  • owning, keeping, being involved in the keeping, or being entitled to control or influence the keeping of animals, transporting or being involved in the transportation of animals under the Animals Welfare Act 2006
  • owning, keeping, dealing in or transporting animals under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
Animal boarding regulation summary
Application evaluation process
Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached. The local authority will consider the following conditions when considering an application:
  • animals are kept in appropriate accommodation at all times
  • an accommodation’s suitability based on; construction, size, number of animals to be housed, exercising facilities, cleanliness, temperature, lighting and ventilation
  • suitable food, drink and bedding
  • animals are exercised and visited regularly
  • steps are taken to prevent and control the spread of diseases among animals, and isolation facilities are in place
  • adequate protection is provided to the animals in the case of fire and other emergencies
  • a register is kept containing description of all animals received, their arrival and departure date, and the name and address of the owner
  • the register must be available to be inspected at any time by a local authority officer, veterinary surgeon or practitioner
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest for the authority to process your application before it can be granted. If you haven’t heard anything within a reasonable period, please contact the local authority either online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or by:
How to apply
Alternatively please request a paper copy here and send to:

Public Protection
Northumberland County Council
Stakeford Depot
East View
Stakeford
Northumberland
NE62 5TR
Failed application redress
Please contact your local authority in the first instance. Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to their local magistrates' court.  
Licence holder redress
Please contact your local authority in the first instance. Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to their local magistrates' court.
Consumer complaint
In the event of a complaint please first contact the trader, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery. If this doesn’t work and you are located in the UK, please contact Citizens Advice. If you are outside of the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
Trade associations

Pet shop licence

If you plan to run a business selling pet animals, you will need a licence.

Pet shop licence summary
If you want to run a business selling pet animals – including pet shops and businesses selling animals over the internet – you will need a licence from the local authority. 
Pet shop licence eligibility criteria
Applicants for a pet shop licence must not have a criminal record in relation to being disqualified from keeping a pet shop. The local authority will determine a fee to be paid on application.
Regulation summary
Application evaluation process
Local authorities will assess the following when considering an application and conditions may be attached to a licence to ensure these are complied with:
  • There must be suitable accommodation for the animals in terms of size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness.
  • There will be adequate food and drink provided to the animals.
  • Each animal will be visited at suitable intervals.
  • Any mammalian animals will not be sold too young.
  • There are steps taken to prevent the spread of diseases among the animals.
  • There are adequate fire and emergency provisions in place.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest for the authority to process your application before it can be granted. If you haven’t heard anything within a reasonable period, please contact the local authority either online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or by:
How to apply
Alternatively, please download and send all completed forms to:

Public Protection
Northumberland County Council
Stakeford Depot
East View
Stakeford
Northumberland
NE62 5TR
Failed application redress
Please contact your local authority in the first instance. Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to their local magistrates' court.  
Licence holder redress
Please contact your local authority in the first instance. Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to their local magistrates' court.
Consumer complaint
In the event of a complaint please first contact the trader, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery. If this doesn’t work and you are located in the UK, please contact Citizens Advice. If you are outside of the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
Trade associations

Riding establishment licence

If you wish to run a riding establishment, you will need a licence.

Riding establishment licence summary
If you are in England, Scotland or Wales and wish to run a riding establishment where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or instruction, you will need a licence from the local authority. 
Riding establishment eligibility
Applicants must be over 18 years and if in England and Wales they must not have been prosecuted and disqualified from:
  • keeping a riding establishment
  • keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951
  • having custody of animals under the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954
  • keeping boarding establishments for animals under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • keeping or owning animals, being able to influence how animals are kept, or dealing, transporting or being involved in the transporting of animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • owning, keeping, dealing or transporting animals under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
In Scotland, applicants must not have been disqualified from:
  • keeping a dog under the Protection of Animals (cruelty to dogs) Act 1933 or Protection of Animals (cruelty to dogs) (Scotland) Act 1934
  • keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951
  • having custody of animals under the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954
  • keeping an animal boarding establishment under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • owning, keeping, dealing in or transporting animals, working with, using, riding or driving animals, providing animal services, taking possession of animals for any of these purposes or taking charge of animals for any other purposes under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
Applicants must not have a disqualification under the Animal Health Act 1981 following a conviction for deliberately infecting an animal with a disease.

Applicants must pay any required fee and comply with conditions that may be attached to the licence.
Regulation summary
Application evaluation
The local authority must consider a report from a veterinary surgeon or practitioner detailing the suitability of the premises, as well as the conditions of the premises and any horses. The authority will also take into account whether the applicant is suitable and qualified to hold a licence. It will assess:
  • what consideration is given to the condition of the horse with regards to its health, fitness and suitability to be ridden
  • that the animal’s feet will be trimmed and fit with good condition shoes
  • that the horses’ accommodation is appropriate
  • that suitable pasture, shelter and water for any horses maintained on the grass and other food will be provided when needed
  • that horses will be provided with suitable food, drink and bedding and will be exercised, groomed, rested and visited at suitable intervals
  • that precautions will be taken to reduce the spread of diseases and that veterinary first aid equipment and medicines will be provided and maintained
  • that appropriate procedures are in place to protect and remove the horses in the case of fire and that the name, address and telephone number of the licence holder and fire instructions are displayed outside the premises
  • that storage facilities for food, bedding, stable equipment and saddlery are provided
The licence will also be subject to conditions:
  • Any horse inspected by an authorised officer, and found to need veterinary attention, will not be returned to work until the licence holder retrieves a veterinary certificate confirming the horse is fit for work.
  • A horse will not be hired or used in instruction without the supervision of a responsible person aged 16 years or older – unless the licence holder is satisfied the rider doesn’t need supervision.
  • The business must not be left in charge of someone under 16 years.
  • The licence holder holds indemnity insurance.
  • The licence holder keeps a register of all of their horses that are three years old or younger, and the register must be available for inspection at all times.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest for the authority to process your application before it can be granted. If you haven’t heard anything within a reasonable period, please contact the local authority either online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or by:
How to apply
Failed application or licence holder redress
If your application or licence holder has been refused, please first contact the local authority. You can then appeal to a magistrates’ court, or in Scotland to your local sheriff. 
Consumer complaint
In the event of a complaint please first contact the trader, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery. If this doesn’t work and you are located in the UK please contact Citizens Advice. If you are outside of the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
Trade associations

Zoo licence

This section gives you all the information on the licence you will need to run a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales.

Zoo licence summary
The licence must be obtained from your local authority. It may be subject to fees and conditions to ensure the proper conduct of a zoo. 
Zoo licence eligibility criteria
At least two months before you make your application, you must give notice to the local authority of your intention to apply for a zoo licence. This notice can be given in writing or electronically, and must identify:
  • the zoo’s location
  • the types of animals that will be kept at the zoo
  • the approximate number of each animal group kept for exhibition on the premises
  • accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing arrangements
  • the approximate numbers and categories of staff to be employed
  • the approximate number of visitors and motor vehicles for which accommodation is to be provided
  • the approximate number and position of access to be provided to the premises
  • how required conservation measures will be implemented
To send notification of your intention to operate a zoo, follow this link.

Please note the applicant must also, at least two months before making the application, publish notice of intention in one local newspaper and one national newspaper, stating:
  • the location of the zoo
  • that the application notice to the local authority will be available to be inspected at the council's offices
Regulation summary
Application evaluation process
The local authority will take into account any objections made by or on behalf of:
  • the applicant
  • the chief office of police (in Scotland, the chief constable) in the relevant area
  • the appropriate authority
  • the governing body of any national institution concerned with the operation of zoos
  • a relevant planning authority (other than a county planning authority), if part of the zoo is not situated in the area of the local authority with power to grant the licence
  • any person who feels the zoo would affect the health and safety of people living in or near to it
  • any other person whose objections might show grounds on which the authority has a power or duty to refuse the licence
Before granting or refusing the licence, the local authority will consider any inspectors’ reports. They will also consult the applicant about any proposed conditions that will be attached to the licence and will make arrangements for their own inspection to be carried out – giving at least 28 days’ notice prior to this.

The licence may be refused if the local authority feels:
  • the zoo would affect the health and safety of people living near it
  • the preservation of law and order may be affected
  • the appropriate conservation measures would not be satisfactorily implemented
  • the accommodation, staffing or management standards are not suitable for the proper care and wellbeing of the animals or for the proper conduct of a zoo
  • the applicant or keeper in the zoo has been convicted of any offence involving ill-treatment of animals. For a company, this includes any of its directors, managers, secretaries or other similar officers.
Renewing a licence
To renew a licence you must contact the local authority no later than six months before the expiry of the existing licence, unless a shorter period has been agreed upon.

After consultation, the secretary of state may direct the local authority to attach one or more conditions to a licence.

The secretary of state may also be notified if the local authority feels a licence is not required due to the small number of animals/kinds of animals at the zoo.  
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest for the authority to process your application before it can be granted. If you haven’t heard anything within a reasonable period, please contact the local authority either online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or by:
How to apply
Failed application redress
If your application is refused, please contact your local authority. Following this, you may appeal to a magistrates’ court (or in Scotland to your local sheriff) within 28 days from the date the applicant received written notification of the refusal. 
Licence holder redress
Please first contact your local authority. A licence holder may appeal to a magistrates’ court within 28 days from the date the licence holder receives written notification of the authority’s decision. The holder can challenge:
  • any condition, variation or cancellation of a condition attached to a licence
  • the refusal to approve the transfer of a licence
  • a zoo closure direction
  • enforcement steps relating to any unmet condition
Consumer complaint
In the event of a complaint please first contact the trader, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery. If this doesn’t work, please contact the licensing team.