Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (as amended)

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, we are responsible for licensing all establishments involved in licensable animal activities. These licences changed on 1 October 2018 under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (as amended).

Under separate legislation, we are also responsible for licensing zoos, as well as people who keep dangerous wild animals.

We aim to promote the wellbeing of animals by ensuring that licensed premises comply with the conditions of their licence set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and by enforcing legislation to protect animals from harm.

Our licensing team inspect new and renewing applicants and licensed establishments with an independent vet where necessary, and respond to complaints about premises where animals are kept where a licence is already issued or may be required.

View our animal activities licensing policy

Lucy's Law

Changes have been made to the sale of puppies and kittens in England. From 6 April 2020, it became illegal to sell puppies and kittens from pet shops and other commercial third party dealers.

Since October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 required any person who carries out the business of selling puppies and kittens as pets to hold a licence. From 6 April 2020 this was amended so that puppies and kittens (cats under six months old) may only be sold as pets if they have been bred by the licence holder.

Apply for an animal activity licence

You'll need to download and complete the relevant application form for the activity and pay the relevant fee/s.

There are two parts to the fee:

  • An application fee for processing your application and covering the costs of our inspection
  • A licence fee, if you are successful in being granted a licence, which depends on the risk rating your establishment receives during its inspection

Please note, hiring of horses establishments will also require an inspection from an equine vet. New dog breeding establishments will be subject to an inspection from a local authority appointed vet. The veterinary inspection fee will be added to the application fee. All veterinary costs are determined by the veterinary practice, not Herefordshire Council.

If applying for a licence to carry out more than one licensable activity, any additional activity will be charged at 50 percent of the application fee. The licence fees for each licensable activity need to be paid in full before the licence is granted or renewed.

How to pay the fees

Payments can be made by:

  • Credit or debit card by calling 01432 261761 and say which licence you are paying for. Our telephone operating hours are 9am to 4.15pm.
  • A cheque made payable to 'Herefordshire Council' sent to Herefordshire Council, Licensing Section, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

If you are renewing a licence, please quote your licence number when making payment.

After you apply

After you've applied for a licence, one of our licensing officers will inspect your premises and, where necessary, an independent vet will also attend.

We'll assess the premises to make sure it's meeting the required standards, including whether the animals are being kept in a suitable environment.

The licensing officer will use the scoring matrix and rate the premises based on the level of risk. This will determine the duration of your licence. Premises that have no documented history of compliance will automatically receive a higher risk rating.

Scoring matrix

Risk Welfare standards - Minor failings (existing business that is failing to meet minimum standards) Welfare standards - Minimum standards (as detailed in the schedules and guidance) Welfare standards - Higher standards (as detailed in the guidance)
Low risk 1 star - 1 year licence, minimum one unannounced visit within a year 3 star - 2 year licence, minimum one unannounced visit within 2 years 5 star - 3 year licence, minimum one unannounced visit within 3 years
Higher risk 1 star - 1 year licence, minimum one unannounced visit within a year 2 star - 1 year licence, minimum one unannounced visit within a year 4 star - 2 year licence, minimum one unannounced visit within 2 years

DEFRA has produced mandatory conditions and associated guidance for each licensable activity. These are divided into two categories - General Conditions (stipulated in Schedule 2) and Specific Conditions from the associated Schedule of the Regulations.

You will need to meet the requirements of all the mandatory conditions to reach the minimum standards, regardless of whether you are an individual or if you employ any staff or volunteer. For existing licensed premises minor failings may be noted or recorded providing they do not compromise the welfare of the animals (these would be predominantly administrative in nature).

For each licensable activity (with the exception of the keeping or training animals for exhibition), a number of higher standards have also been agreed by DEFRA. Meeting the higher standards is optional but it is the only way to gain a higher star rating. The higher standards are separated into two groups: required and optional

To meet the higher standards the premises must achieve:

  • All the required higher standards
  • A minimum of 50 percent of the optional higher standards

You will receive a copy of the completed inspection report.

Renewing your licence

You’ll need to submit a renewal application and pay the relevant application fee at least 10 weeks before your existing licence expires. If a veterinary inspection is also required, the veterinary inspection fee will be added to the application fee.

Legislation requires that an authorised officer inspects the premises before the local authority considers any licence renewal. Therefore, applications that are submitted less than 10 weeks before the licence expiry may result in the existing licence expiring before an inspection can be carried out. This will result in the premises being unlicensed and you will need to submit a new licence application.

Once the renewal inspection has been carried out, we will tell you the risk rating that has been determined, the licence duration (1, 2 or 3 years) and the payable licence fee.

Copy of licence

To request a copy of a licence, please email and quote the licence number and/or the premises address, and the reason why you are requesting a copy of the licence.

There will be a fee to pay of £21 per licence. Please see the 'How to pay the fees' section above to make payment.

Useful links

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) website has information to assist vets in creating or signing Preventative Healthcare Plans.

Other permissions you may need

When operating a business you may also need to speak to:

  • Planning - for the correct permission to operate your business
  • Business rates - to ensure you are set up to pay your rates