Animal activity licences

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into effect on 1 October 2018. The regulations unify and update a number of current licensing acts namely those applicable to pet shops, animal boarding establishments, riding establishments, dog breeding and performing animals.

The regulations are available to download and include statutory licence conditions as follows:

  • schedule 2 - the general conditions which apply to all licences

The specific conditions which apply with respect to different licensable activities as follows:

The regulations introduced significant changes including new enforcement powers for a local authority to suspend, vary or revoke a licence and a star rating system which determines the duration of a licence which may last for one, two or three years.

To apply for a licence please contact us using the details at the bottom of this page and we will send you the relevant application form.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has produced guidance relating to each of the licensable activities and can be accessed on the following links:

Application fees

All fees have been calculated taking into account the statutory guidance in regulation 13 which stipulates a full cost recovery model. Fees are broken down as follows:

Part A - the costs of processing the application, including initial inspection, through to determination.
Part B - the costs of running and enforcement of the licensing regime, including any mid term visits.

Vet inspection and associated fees apply in addition to the above with respect to initial inspection of dog breeding establishments and annually for hiring of horses.

A copy of the animal licence fee structure is available on this page. Please be aware that the fee depends on the duration of the licence, however we are unable to determine the duration until a full assessment has been undertaken. The Part A and vet inspection fees are non-refundable should your application be unsuccessful. The Part B fee is only payable upon granting of a licence.

Table of fees

Premises type

Application fee (Part A) 

1 year licence fee (Part B)

2 year licence fee (Part B)

3 year licence fee (Part B)

Re-inspection fee**

Boarding establishment






Home boarding






Pet shop






Dog day care 






Riding establishment*






Breeding establishment*






Animal exhibition






* = Vet fees are applicable, calculated by the veterinary practitioner. This will vary depending on the nature and size of the premises
** = Re-inspection fee is only payable if a re-inspection is requested by the licence holder for the purposes of a re-rating (star rating) visit

Misc fees

Copy of licence


Minor change/transfer of licence


Variation of licence


Duration of licences

Under the regulations, a licence for the keeping or training animals for exhibition will last for three years and is not subject to risk rating. Licenses for other activities will last either one, two or three years.

Existing operators will be risk rated against a standard 14 point assessment criteria. The assessment considers a number of factors relating to compliance history, complaints, welfare and management standards. A score of 17 or less is rated low risk , a score of 18 or above is rated higher risk. New businesses which do not have a compliance history with a Local Authority or relevant UKAS accredited scheme must be automatically deemed as higher risk.

The inspection findings and risk rating are fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the star rating and duration of the licence given to a business:

Animal activity star rating system


Minor failings

Minimum standards

Higher standards

Low risk                                    

1 star rating, 1 year licence, at least 1 unannounced visit within 12 months 3 star rating, 2 year licence, at least 1 unannounced visit within 24 months 5 star rating, 3 year licence, at least 1 unannounced visit within 36 months

High risk                                        

1 star rating, 1 year licence, at least 1 unannounced visit within 12 months 2 star rating, 1 year licence, at least 1 unannounced visit within 12 months 4 star rating, 2 year licence, at least 1 unannounced visit within 24 months


Appeal against a decision to refuse, revoke, or vary a licence

Any operator who is aggrieved by a decision by us to refuse to grant or renew a licence, or to vary or revoke a licence, may appeal within 28 days of the day after the date of the decision to a first tier tribunal.

Appeal against the risk or star rating awarded

A licensed operator of an animal establishment may appeal the licence rating given following inspection if they do not agree that the rating reflects the risk rating or compliance rating (both of which affect the star rating and length of licence) found at the time of the inspection. Operators should, in the first instance, talk to the officer who inspected the business about why the rating was given however this does not affect the right to appeal or applicable deadlines.

Appeals must be lodged within 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) from the date of issue of the licence. Appeals must be in writing (includes email) and provide evidence of compliance:

  • send your appeal to us by email to 
  • or by post to the office of the enforcing authority. For South Norfolk use Environmental Health, South Norfolk House, Cygnet Court, Long Stratton. For Broadland, use Environmental Health, Thorpe Lodge, 1 Yarmouth Road, NR7 0DU.

The lead officer for animal licensing will review the rating and communicate the outcome of the appeal within 21 days of receipt (including weekends and bank holidays).

In some circumstances, a further visit to the establishment may be required to determine the appeal. This will depend on the nature of the appeal and whether a decision can or cannot be made on the basis of the paperwork associated with the inspection and the rating given.

The cost of any additional visit is borne by the applicant unless it results in a higher star rating being awarded and is charged at the same rate as a variation.

If an operator disagrees with the outcome of an appeal, they can challenge our decision by means of a judicial review.

Requests for re-inspection for re-rating purposes

To ensure fairness to businesses, a procedure is in place for undertaking re-inspections at the request of a business for reassessing star ratings. A request may be made where a business has been rated one to four, has accepted the rating and made the necessary improvements to address the identified non-compliances or meet the higher standards.

To request a re-inspection the business operator must contact the relevant local authority for where the premises is situated by email or post. 

They must outline the case for a re–inspection indicating the actions that have been taken to address any identified non-compliance and/or improvements made to achieve the higher standards.

If there is insufficient evidence provided that improvements have been made, we can refuse to undertake a re-visit but we will explain why we are refusing the request.

A rescore can only be undertaken following a re-inspection and cannot be undertaken on documentary evidence alone. There is a fee for a rescore visit and businesses are advised that re-inspection for re-rating purposes may result in lower rating or no change rather than an increase in rating.

We aim to undertake a re-inspection within three months of receipt of a request.

Animal licence public register

Please contact us on the email below to receive a copy of the public register. 

Food, Safety and Licensing Team

Telephone: 01603 430488