Boarding for cats and dogs

If you providing boarding for cats and dogs, you may need an animal activity licence. To obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for commercial boarding establishments.

Do I need a licence?

You will need a licence if you are:

  • A business which provides accommodation for other people’s cats and dogs, where the provision of that accommodation is part or solely the activity of the business
  • Providing overnight accommodation for dogs in a home environment, this would be classed as home boarding for dogs
  • A business providing daytime accommodation for dogs away from the dogs normal place of residence and does not keep them overnight, this would be classed as  day care for dogs
  • A business that arranges accommodation for other people’s cat and dogs, e.g. businesses which connect pet owners with people willing to look after their animals for no fee (just minor expenses). The accommodation provided in these circumstances must meet the conditions set by the legislation and it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that this is the case - see further guidance below. The business must provide (and keep updated) a list of their associated premises. This applies regardless of whether the business is arranging for dog boarding in kennels, cat boarding, home boarding or dog day care
  • A business which provide overnight accommodation for cats in purpose built cattery units
  • Providing home boarding for cats, where the cats are kept in purpose built cattery units and not in the domestic home.

Anyone carrying out this activity without the relevant licence could be prosecuted and face imprisonment of up to 6 months, receive a fine or both.

See further guidance on cat boarding (external link) and dog boarding (external link).


To find out how much your animal activity licence will cost visit:

How to apply

  • BEFORE you apply you must pay the relevant fee online
  • Complete the application form - you will need to add your payment receipt number to your completed application
  • Complete the relevant inspection form:
  • The following documents must be produced with the application form. Failure to produce these documents within 7 days of submitting your application will result in it being returned and any fees paid refunded:
    • A completed inspection form (this shows how you are complying with and / or will comply with the relevant conditions)
    • Operating procedures covering the following:
      • Infection Control Procedure
      • Feeding Regimes
      • Cleaning Regimes
      • Transportation
      • Monitoring Health and Welfare
      • The Death or Escape of an Animal
      • Emergency Care Plan
      • A plan of the premises
      • Insurance Policy
      • Risk Assessments (including a fire risk assessment)
      • Qualifications (if any)
      • Training policy / records.
  • Submit the application and supporting documents via email to the licensing team or by post to the Licensing Team, PO Box 100, Wigan, WN1 3DS.

Please note: The licence, if granted, is non-transferrable should the premises / business be sold or taken over by another operator. If the licence holder dies, the personal representative of the licence holder can take on the licence provided that they inform the local authority within 28 days of the death that they are now the operators.


We are required to carry out an inspection of all premises where licensable activities take place before we can approve an application.

As part of your inspection, you will be given a rating based on specific criteria.

What do I do if I already have a licence?

Before the expiry date of your licence, you will need to make an application for a licence under the new regulations.

You are advised to familiarise yourself with the new licence conditions to ensure you are able to comply with these before making a new application - see further guidance on cat boarding(external link) and dog boarding (external link).

Public register

We maintain a public register of all the businesses which hold an animal activity licence, a copy of which is available below. This will be updated on a regular basis.

Ban on XL Bully dogs

It is now a criminal offence to own or possess an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless there is a valid Certificate of Exemption in place.

It is also an offence to:

  • sell an XL Bully dog
  • abandon an XL Bully dog or let it stray
  • give away an XL Bully dog
  • breed or breed from an XL Bully dog
  • have an XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle.

The rules that must followed in relation to an XL Bully dog in England and Wales is available at GOV.UK - Ban on XL Bully dogs (external link).

To be considered a type ‘known as the XL Bully’ a dog must meet the minimum height measurements set out in the conformation standard. The conformation standard is available at GOV.UK XL Bully conformation standard (external link).

Kennelling, Home Boarding or Day Care of XL Bullies 

It will still be possible for businesses to provide these services for exempted XL Bully type dogs if they wish to do so.

It is a requirement of the Certificate of Exemption to keep a prohibited breed type at the same address as the person to whom the certificate is issued except for up to a maximum of 30 days in a 12-month period.  During these 30 days, the dog may be kept in suitable care which could include licensed kennels, home boarding or day care.

Licence holders must ensure that they can continue to meet and maintain all their licence conditions should they agree to board an exempted XL Bully.  

The owner should ensure that the licence holder, or their designated manager, is aware the dog is a prohibited breed type, show them the Certificate of Exemption, and provide all relevant information to ensure the business can comply with the legislation. This includes that from 31 December 2023 the dog must be kept on a lead and muzzled when in public.

In general, the licensed premises are unlikely to be considered as a public place for the purposes of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (that is a place which members of the public have access to without the invitation of the person occupying the property).  However, depending on the individual set up, some part of the premises used by the licensee may be accessible to the public without the licensee’s permission.  We would advise that licence holders that are unsure whether their premises or a part of their premises constitute a public place should consult their own legal team for views. If a licence holder or their legal team do consider the premises to be a public place, then an XL Bully would be required by law to be kept on a lead and muzzled.

When transporting exempted XL Bully dogs, they should be on a lead and a muzzle at all times when they are in a vehicle as this is considered to be a public place.

© Wigan Council