Animal welfare licensing

Advice for businesses during the coronovirus pandemic.

We will update this page when new guidance is released.

Members of The Canine & Feline Sector Group have come together to provide guidance on how to look after pets during the pandemic. This advice includes advice for pet business owners and other commercial activities.

From 1 October 2018, new legislation reformed animal welfare licensing with a single type of licence known as an “Animal Activity Licence with nationally-set conditions being introduced.

This guidance should help you in making your licence application. Please contact us if you have any questions before you start up a business.

Businesses required to hold an Animal Activity Licence includes –

Animal boarding

A licence is required for providing or arranging boarding for other people’s dogs or cats in the course of a business, on any premises where the provision of that accommodation is the purpose of a business. The following activities are included:

  • Boarding for cats
  • Boarding kennels for dogs
  • Home boarding for dogs
  • Day care for dogs

The introduction of the regulations now makes the arranging of boarding for dogs or cats a licensable activity, as well as providing boarding.

Pet Shops, including the sale of pet animals on the internet

A licence is required by anyone selling animals as pets, either directly or with a view to them later being sold as pets, in the course of a business. The scope of this includes the business of wholesale/pet shop supplier as a licensable activity, as well as anyone keeping animals in the course of a business with a view to them being sold or resold.

The exceptions to this are:

  • The selling of animals in the course of an aqua cultural business inspected (by CEFAS) and authorised under The Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009
  • The breeding of dogs to the extent that you require a licence relevant to this activity, rather than a pet sales licence.

Hiring out horses

A licence is required for the hiring out horses in the course of a business for either of the following:

  • Riding
  • Riding lessons

Exemptions to this are any activity solely for military or police, or involving students studying for a veterinary degree under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

For the activity of hiring out horses, there is a requirement for an annual inspection by a RCVS listed veterinarian, regardless of the total length of the licence.

Dog breeders

The test for dog breeding as a licensable activity is either or both of the following;

  • The breeding of three or more litters in any 12-month period
  • The breeding and advertising of a business of selling dogs

Exemptions include;

  • Keeping a dog on any premises as a requirement of the Animal Health Act 1981.
  • Breeding assistance dogs under Section 173 of the Equality Act 2010.
  • If documentary evidence can be produced to show none of the three litters bred have been sold.

Keeping or training animals for the purpose of Exhibition, encounters or performance

  • If a person keeps or trains animals for exhibition in the course of a business, for the purpose of education or entertainment, a licence is required. This includes exhibition to any audience or any filming/ photo shoots which enables the display of such images.
  • Exemptions include animals kept and trained for military, police or sporting purposes, any activity permitted under The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 or the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

How to apply for an Animal Activities Licence

To apply for your licence download and complete the appropriate application form below. Information is provided on the form on where to send it to and how to make payment. You will then be contacted by the City of London’s, Animal Welfare Service who carry out the Star Rating Scheme inspections for us.

Further information on the Star Rating Scheme and can be found in the following guidance note.

Application forms

Application for animal boarding licence (word doc)
Application for animal boarding licence (pdf)

Application for a licence to sell animals as pets (word doc)
Application for a licence to sell animals as pets (pdf)

Application for a licence to operate a riding establishment (word doc)
Application for a licence to operate a riding establishment (pdf)

Application for a licence to carry on the activity of breeding dogs (word doc)
Application for a licence to carry on the activity of breeding dogs (pdf)

Application for a performing animals licence
Contact for further advice

National guidance and conditions for animal activities establishments

It is important that you read and understand the relevant guidance note which includes the general conditions set by the legislation which you will be inspected against as follows:

Fee information

The fee payable for a new application or renewal of an existing Animal Activities Licence can is

Animal activities licence fees 2020- 21 (pdf 46KB)

How to pay

The fee must be paid before or at the time of application. Payment can be made by telephone - call 020 8753 1081 to make payment by Switch, Delta, Visa or MasterCard.

Complaints about businesses providing animal activities services or care.

You should contact us if you have any concern businesses providing animal activities services.

Planning permission

You should check that your business premises has the correct planning permission to lawfully provide Animal Activities services.

General data protection regulations

For information on general data protection regulations and how we manage your data please see our privacy notice.

Public Register of licensed Animal Activities Establishments.

We maintain a public register of all the businesses which hold an animal activity licence, a copy of which is available below. The register is updated on a regular basis.

H&F public register of all the businesses which hold an animal activity licence.

Dangerous and wild animals

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and a schedule included with the Act contains a list of the various animals classed as "dangerous wild animals".  In addition to powers of inspection, the Act also gives the council powers to seize any animal being kept on premises which are unlicensed.  Zoos, pet shops and circuses are exempt from the provisions of the Act as these premises are subject to separate licensing requirements.

The keeping of certain species of wild animals is controlled by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This specifies that:

No person may keep a dangerous wild animal without having first obtained a licence from their local authority (council).

Animals requiring a licence are listed in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) Order 1984.

Please contact us for further information and guidance. It is an offence to keep a scheduled dangerous and wild animal without a licence.

Professional dog walkers

Further information on how to obtain a licence to walk dogs for financial gain in our parks.

Animal Welfare Charter

The council supports the view that all animals have a right to life free from cruel treatment and unnecessary suffering. This charter has been adopted by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham to reflect the concerns of the administration and all residents who care about animal welfare.

Animal Welfare Charter (pdf 190KB)

Animal welfare other information sources




Dogs Trust

The Canine & Feline Sector Group

Contact details

Hammersmith & Fulham Council
The Environment Department
Food and Safety Team
Hammersmith Town Hall
King Street
W6 9JU

020 8753 1081 - lines open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday