If you run a business, such as a pet shop, which sells animals as pets, you need a licence from the council under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

When is a licence needed?

  • The import, distribution and sale of animals by a business.
  • Businesses or individuals operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes (it should be noted that many may not be listed with Companies House).
  • Premises that are open to members of the public or to other businesses where animals are available for purchase.

Selling pet animals as a business from a market or stall is prohibited under Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951.

Activities that don't need a licence

  • If you are a dog breeder, you will need a dog breeding licence.
  • If you breed animals as a hobby, for pleasure, exhibition for prize, or for education, study or scientific advancement and occasionally sell a small number of surplus offspring/excess stock where no or very little profit is made.
  • Organised events where people meet to sell surplus animals they have bred, or animals that are surplus to their requirements.
  • Aquacultural production businesses that are authorised under regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, and that are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate

Display of the licence

New licence holders must display their licence number on any website they use and must clearly display their licence on their premises. Before buying animals ensure you see a licence number. Please note old licence holders are not required to display their licence number until their new licence in January 2019.

Animal star rating scheme

The new licence is star rated to represent the welfare standards and level of risk. We recommend display of the star rating on any website but this is not a legal requirement.


The council takes the welfare of animals very seriously and will investigate any complaints relating to unlicensed premises or where the conditions of the licence are not being met. We encourage everyone to report concerns to us.