Animal Health & Welfare (Licensing Requirements)

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

We are responsible for the licensing of a range of premises that sell or use animals as part of their business activities:

  • Boarding for Cats
  • Boarding for Dogs (Kennels)
  • Boarding for Dogs (Home Boarding)
  • Boarding for Dogs (Day Care)
  • Dog Breeding
  • Exhibiting Animals
  • Hiring out Horses
  • Selling Animals as Pets (Pet Shops)

Please note the new regulations do not have any impact on the licensing of those who keep Dangerous Wild Animals or operate Zoos. Licences for these activities will continue to be issued under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 took effect on 1st October 2018.  The new licensing system allows for licences to be granted for 1, 2 or 3 years and also requires premises to be given a Star Rating. Before a decision can be made on the duration of the licence, and the Star Rating that will be given, the Council must, by law, carry out a thorough inspection of the premises/animals.

Regulations    DEFRA Guidance     HBC Register

Who can apply for a licence?

Any individual, who will be designated as the operator of the business, can apply for a licence providing they:

  1. can demonstrate that they are a fit and proper person to carry out the licensable activity and meet the licence conditions (stated in the Regulations); and
  2. are not disqualified from holding a licence in accordance with Regulation 11 and Schedule 8.

How to apply

To apply for a licence, applicants must complete and submit an application form accompanied by the appropriate fee and relevant documentation.

The licence fee consists of two parts; a non refundable application fee of £100 is payable on submission of the application. Once your licence is granted, an issue fee will be payable depending on the duration of the licence granted.

An Inspector from the Council will visit the premises to assess compliance. The Council reserves the right to require a veterinary inspection of the premises and, if required, the cost of such an inspection will be invoiced to the applicant. If such an inspection is deemed necessary the applicant will be contacted directly by the Vet to arrange a suitable time.

Animal Boarding Application Form   Dog Breeding Application Form  Hiring out Horses Application Form   Performing Animal(s) Application Form   Selling Pet Animals Application Form

How long does the licence last?

The licence is valid for one or two years for all new applicants, and one, two or three years for previous licence holders. The length of licence will be determined by the star rating.  This takes into consideration the risk of an operator breaching any licence conditions and whether the operator is meeting higher standards of animal welfare than is required by the standard licence conditions. Licence holders will receive a written reminder prior to the expiry of their Licence.

For each activity (except keeping or training animals for exhibition) a number of "higher standards" have been stipulated by DEFRA in its guidance for each activity. Meeting the higher standards is optional but is the only way to gain the highest star rating. The higher standards are classified into two categories; required and optional. In the guidance, these will be colour coded into blue and red respectively. To qualify as meeting the higher standards the business must achieve all of the required standards as well as a minimum of 50% of the optional higher standards.

A business may wish to apply for a re‐inspection or re‐rating, on a chargeable basis, following the completion of any works required to rectify any non‐compliance or improvements in order to achieve higher standards.

The table below shows the scoring matrix that will be used to determine the star rating:

Scoring Matrix

Minor Failings

Existing businesses that fail to meet required standards

Required Standards

As specified in the


Higher Standards

As specified in the


Low Risk

Existing businesses that score 17 or less on the risk scoring table

1 Star

1 year licence

3 Stars

2 year licence

5 Stars

3 year licence

High Risk

All new businesses or existing businesses that score 18 or more on the risk scoring table

1 Star

1 year licence

2 Stars

1 year licence

4 Stars

2 year licence

Planning requirements

Your application for a licence will need to consider whether planning permission is required for the proposed licensed activity. You should contact the planning department to discuss whether permission will be needed. 

How long will it take to process my application?

If we have not contacted you to make arrangements to complete an inspection within 14 days of your application, please contact us to check that your application was correctly made and received.

Once an application has been made, an Inspector will carry out an inspection of the premises.  The Council reserves the right to require a veterinary inspection of the premises and, if required, the cost of such an inspection will be invoiced to the applicant. If such an inspection is deemed necessary the applicant will be contacted directly by the Vet to arrange a suitable time. Please note that a listed veterinarian must carry out inspections related to the activity for hiring out horses and will also accompany the Inspector when carrying out the first inspection for a licence to breed dogs.  

Following the inspection on existing businesses, operators will be risk rated using a standard 14 point criteria which includes factors such as compliance history, complaints, welfare standards and management standards. This scoring system will determine if the operator is either 'low risk' (a score of 17 or less) or 'high risk' (a score of 18 or more).

The Council will consider the report from the inspector and any comments made by the applicant when deciding whether to issue a licence.

The Council must refuse to issue a licence if it considers that the applicant cannot meet the licence conditions, other than minor failings, or the granting of a licence would have a negative impact on animal welfare or if the level of accommodation, staffing or management is inadequate for the well‐being of the animals. A licence cannot be issued to an operator who is disqualified from keeping a pet shop, dog, animal boarding establishment, riding establishment or from having custody of animals.

The Council will endeavour to make a decision on a licence application within a period of 10 weeks, however this may take longer if further information is required. If the local authority deems it to be appropriate to issue a licence following the application you will then be required to pay the issuing fee in order to receive the licence.

Offences and penalties

There are a number of animal related convictions which will not allow a person to make an application for a licence. These are listed within Schedule 8 of the Regulations.

Power of entry

Hartlepool Borough Council may authorise competent persons to enter premises, either licensed under the Act or specified in an application for a licence, at all reasonable times, to undertake an inspection, deal with an emergency or search for evidence during an investigation.

Your right to appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence may appeal to a First Tier Tribunal within 28 days beginning with the day following the date of the decision.  For more information about the appeal process, and the form you'll need to complete, see General Regulatory Chamber's Notice of appeal form and guidance.