About animal licenses

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The following activities are permitted under Animal Welfare (Authorization of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations 2018 (England):

  • horse rental (for example equestrian centers)
  • sell animals as pets
  • dog draining
  • boarding for dogs (kennels)
  • boarding for cats (catteries)
  • provide home boarding for dogs (including daycare)
  • dog daycare (commercial)
  • keep or train animals for the show

Separate licenses are also available for:

  • dangerous wild animals
  • zoos

Star rating system

Licenses can be issued for a period of one, two or three years depending on the risk rating and level of compliance. This also corresponds to the number of stars of the establishment.

The procedural guide describes the risk-based system to be used when issuing licenses under the Regulations (with the exception of “Keeping or training animals for a show” where all licenses are issued for three years. ).

The use of this system determines both the duration of the license and the number of stars that will be awarded. Local authorities in England should follow it in its entirety.

Wellness standards / risk scoring matrix

Minor faults
(existing businesses that do not meet minimum standards)
Minimum standards
(as indicated in the timeline and guidelines)
Higher standards (as stated in the guidelines)
Low risk

1 star
1 year license
At least 1 unannounced visit over a 12 month period.

3 stars
2 year license
At least 1 unannounced visit in a 24 month period.

5 stars
3 year license
At least 1 unannounced visit over a 36 month period.

Higher risk

1 star
1 year license
At least 1 unannounced visit over a 12 month period.

2 stars
1 year license
At least 1 unannounced visit over a 12 month period.

4 stars
2 year license
At least 1 unannounced visit in a 24 month period.


The Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued procedural guidance notes for local authorities to help assess regulations, which can be downloaded.


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