Animal welfare licensing

A licence is needed for animal boarding businesses including:

  • home boarders 
  • doggy day care
  • dog breeders
  • pet shops
  • riding establishments

All activities will be covered by a single licence, with nationally-set licence conditions for businesses providing animal-related services. Businesses operating with these activities will need to comply with the conditions, and will be assessed before the licence is granted.

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Star rating scheme

Animal welfare businesses need to be rated and issued with a star, ranging from 1 to 5. We will check, compliance with the conditions, assessment of 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, for which there will be a charge.

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. 

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Licence conditions

Find out more about the conditions for a licence. 

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How to apply

Existing licence holders will need to apply to their renew their licences ten weeks before the renewal date by completing a new application form. 

Once the completed application form, including the section named “additional information” and application fee has been received, we will examine the information provided and determine if a Veterinary Officer is required to inspect the premises.

Once the application has been processed an Animal Welfare Officer will contact you to arrange an inspection. After your inspection you will be given your star rating/years we will then request you to make a payment for the Grant Fee.

Make a payment

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

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

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Appeals and re-ratings

You have 21 days from receipt of your licence to appeal your rating. To do this you need to email The appeal will be considered by a manager, not the inspector who was involved in deciding the initial rating.

You may also request a re-rate, for example if you have made changes that mean you now meet higher standard and think you would be eligible for a higher rating.

You will need to pay £50 per hour for the re-rate. To do this you need to email Following receipt of a request for a re-rate an officer will carry this out within three months of the request being submitted.

If you have any questions, contact Environmental Health.

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Further information

You can find further information on the legislation relating to cats and dogs in England on the CFSG website.