Animal licensing

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 took effect on 1 October 2018.

The regulations were made by the Secretary of State under section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and introduced a new licensing regime for anyone carrying out one or more of the following ‘licensable activities’:

  • selling animals as pets
  • providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs
  • hiring out horses
  • breeding dogs
  • keeping or training animals for exhibition

The regulations repealed and replaced the previous licensing regimes that were in place under the following pieces of legislation:

Anyone carrying on any of the above licensable activities in the council’s area requires a licence from the council to do so.

Validity of current licence from 1 October 2018

Existing licenses will remain valid until it is due to expire. However, performing animal regulations will only continue for 6 months from 1 October 2018. After this, you will need to apply for a licence under the new regulations.


The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now published procedural guidance for local authorities in relation to the new regulations, along with guidance notes on the conditions that will apply to licenses issued to authorise the different licensable activities.

Procedural guidance and other guidance notes

The guidance notes for each licensable activity also provide guidance on whether an individual requires a licence or not, which will depend on their individual circumstances.

Apply by post

All applications must include:

In addition to the licensable activity/activities you're applying for:

The application form should be completed and returned with the relevant fee (cheques should be made payable to ‘BCP Council’) and supporting documents. Please return your application to:

Environmental Services
Unit 1
Newfields Business Park
2 Stinsford Road
BH17 0NF

We are unable to accept email applications because they require a signature.

Depending on which licensable activities you are applying for, we may be required to appoint a vet to inspect the premises. The costs of any required vet inspection are not covered by the application or licence fees and must be paid for by the applicant separately.

If your application requires us to appoint a vet, we will provide you with an invoice to recover the costs in relation to the vet’s inspection and the production of their report.

If multiple activities are being applied for, the highest fee will be charged. Fees may be amended upon review.

Star rating scheme

The Procedural Guidance describes the risk-based system that must be used when issuing licences under the Regulations (with the exception of 'Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition' where all licences are issued for 3 years).

Use of this system determines both the length of the licence and the star rating that will be awarded. Local authorities in England are expected to follow it in full.

Tacit consent

Tacit consent does not apply. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please get in touch by calling 01202 261700 or email

Page last updated: 04 May 2020
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