Animal licensing

On 1 October 2018 the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force.

A licence is required for the following activities:

  1. selling animals as pets
  2. providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs (home boarding and day care is licensable for dogs only)
  3. hiring out horses
  4. breeding dogs
  5. keeping or training animals for exhibition

How to apply

Licence applications must be submitted in writing (including by email to eh.commercial@spelthorne.gov.uk) along with the required supporting information and the appropriate fee.

View the current fees and charges.

DEFRA has produced standard application forms. For every application you must complete the standard introductory section and the declaration in addition to the form for the specific activity.

The Council will notify licence holders when their existing licence will expire (three months prior to expiry) and licence holders must make a new application at least 10 weeks before the licence expires to continue the activity without a break. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that their application is made on time.

We must refuse to issue a licence if it considers that the applicant cannot meet the licence conditions, the granting of a licence will have a negative impact on animal welfare or if the level of accommodation, staffing or management is inadequate for the well-being of animals.

The applicant has the right of appeal.

Payment can be made by either of the following means:

  • by returning the completed forms with a cheque made payable to Spelthorne Borough Council, to the Cashiers Section, Spelthorne Borough Council, PO Box 290, Staines-upon-Thames, TW18 1XB.
  • by telephone using a credit or debit card by calling 01784 451499, you will hear a recorded message after the message please press 3 to talk to a customer service adviser. Please do not press 4 for payments as animal licensing is not set up on this system. Once they have taken your payment please ask them to email the receipt to eh.commerical@spelthorne.gov.uk. You should then either email or post your completed application forms to this department

Inspection and standards required

DEFRA has produced mandatory conditions and associated guidance for each licensable activity. This guidance is available here (link to guidance). Applicants must familiarised themselves with the guidance before applying.

As part of the inspection process premises will be risk rated against a number of factors including compliance history, complaints, welfare standards and management standards. Licences for the keeping or training animals for exhibition are not risk rated.

All applications will be assessed on:

  1. an assessment of the applicant as to whether they are a fit and proper person to carry out the activity, their knowledge, experience, compliance history, ability to meet their licence conditions and whether they are currently disqualified from making an application;
  2. an inspection of the site of the licensable activity; and
  3. the payment of the appropriate fee

Length of the licence and star rating

Licences for the keeping or training animals for exhibition are issued for three years. For all other activities the length of the licence can last for a periods of one, two or three years depending on the risk rating.

This table outlines the star rating scheme:

Scoring MatrixWelfare standards
Minor Failings
(existing businesses that are failing to meet minimum standards)
Minimum Standards
(as laid down in the schedules and guidance)

Higher Standards
(as laid down in the guidance)

Low Risk1 Star
1 yr licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within 12 month period
3 Star
2 yr licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within 24 month period
5 Star
3 yr licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within 36 month period
Higher Risk1 Star
1 yr licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within 12 month period
2 Star
1 yr licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within 12 month period
4 Star
2 yr licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within 24 month period

Minor failings are those that do not compromise animal welfare.