Licensing - Animals

Animal Licensing

New Animal Licensing Regime

On 1 October 2018 The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 comes into force. These regulations will replace a number of pieces of existing legislation set to be repealed at the end of 2018 and will provide a new single licensing regime for a number of animal licensing activities.

Those undertaking the following activities will need to be licensed under the new regime:

  • Selling animals as pets
  • Providing or arranging for the provision of boarding for cats or dogs (including day care)
  • Hiring out horses
  • Breeding dogs
  • Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Licences held under the current system relating to pet shops, animal boarding establishments, riding establishments or dog breeding will continue in force for the rest of their term. Licence holders will then need to make an application for a licence under the new regime and comply with the new requirements.

The new Regulations set nationally applicable conditions that licence holders must comply with. A ratings system will be introduced whereby licence holders will be given a rating dependant on specified criteria. Current licence holders are advised to consider the conditions contained within the new regulations which will need to be complied with.

View the Regulations (PDF, 207KB, 40 pages)

To view the current fees, please click here (PDF, 403KB, 1 page)

Further information will be placed on this page when available.

Please Note: Zoos and Dangerous and Wild Animals will continue to be licensed under existing legislation.

Animal boarding establishments

A licence is needed to keep a boarding establishment for animals.This includes any business which provides accommodation for cats or dogs owned by other people. Both commercial premises, such as kennels and catteries, and home boarders who look after pets within their own home require licences, as do businesses providing day-time accommodation for pets (for example, dog day care and cat crèches).

Businesses which accommodate animals only as an ancillary part of the business (for example, a vet's surgery accommodating animals overnight after treatment) do not need to be licensed. There are also no requirements for licences for the boarding of other types of animals apart from dogs and cats.

Animal Boarding Application Form (PDF, 159KB, 4 pages).

Guidance Notes for Boarding Dogs in Kennels (PDF, 428KB, 27 pages).

Guidance Notes for Boarding Cats (PDF, 1.17MB, 34 pages).

Guidance Notes for Home Boarding Dogs (PDF, 564KB, 30 pages).

Guidance Notes for Doggy Day Care (PDF, 420KB, 26 pages).

Dog Breeding

A licence is needed to keep a dog breeding establishment. 

This includes any business which breeds dogs for sale (whether directly or to other pet shops), with four or more litters of puppies born in a 12-month period. This may include both commercial properties or private dwellings where bitches are being kept by the breeder, relatives or business partners, in the course of the business.

We will only issue licences for permanent, fixed premises. It is illegal for animals to be kept or sold in streets, public places or from market stalls.

Dog Breeding Application Form (PDF, 100KB, 5 pages).

Guidance Notes for Dog Breeding (PDF, 604KB, 38 pages).

Horse Riding Establishments

Horse riding establishments, where horses or ponies are hired out for riding or used for riding tuition.

Livery stables, which provide accommodation for other people's horses but do not hire horses for riding, do not require licences.

Horse Riding Establishment Application Form (PDF, 104KB, 5 pages).

Guidance Notes for Hiring out Horses (PDF, 464KB, 29 pages).

Pet Shops

A licence is needed to keep a pet shop.

This includes any business which sells animals as pets or keeps pets with a view to their sale. Private dwellings must be licensed if animals are being kept or sold there in the course of a business.

Breeding and selling registered pedigree animals, or the occasional sale of the offspring of a family pet, does not require a licence.

We will only issue licences for permanent, fixed premises. It is illegal for pet animals to be sold in streets, public places or from market stalls.

Pet Shop Application Form (PDF, 100KB, 5 pages).

Guidance Notes for Pet Shops (PDF, 872KB, 91 pages).

Performing Animals

A person who proposes to allow animals to perform within Isle of Wight Council's jurisdiction must obtain a licence from the Council.

Performing Animals Application Form (PDF,100KB, 5 pages).

Guidance Notes for Performing Animals (PDF, 620KB, 30 pages).

The Application Process

Existing licence holders will need to apply for their renewed licences under the new laws 10 weeks before the renewal date.


All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • a specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. This would include the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. The applicant should be able to demonstrate that they have researched and followed expert guidance in order to carry out their role.
  • Comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities.
  • An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
  • Training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.

The premises itself will also be assessed so we can be sure the licence holder can meet the new laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

Based on the information, we will assess the risk rating and award stars. Low-risk premises can attain up to five stars, and premises that have been assessed as higher risk can be awarded up to four stars. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, and ask for a re-inspection.

Premises with lower star ratings

A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.

If customers have any concerns, please contact the Licensing Team prior to making a purchase or making booking arrangements.

Further updates on the law changes will be published as we receive them.

Public Register

View the public register of existing licences/consents/permits/registrations .

Further information

If you require further clarification please do not hesitate to contact the Licensing Department by using our online send a message to service form.