Home boarding / Doggy day care

On 1st October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (external link) came into force.

This legislation has significantly changed the way certain activities involving animals are licensed and regulated. In particular:

  • Home boarding for dogs
  • Day care for dogs

The new licence will be referred to as an 'Animal Activity Licence'. To obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for the relevant activity.

Do I need a licence?

In scope criteria

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:

  • Businesses which provide overnight accommodation for dogs in a home environment. This must be inside a domestic home which is not the usual home where the animals are kept, and not in external kennel accommodation (where external kennel accommodation is used, this would fall under the scope of providing boarding in kennels for dogs).
  • Businesses which provide daytime accommodation for dogs away from the dogs normal place of residence and do not keep them overnight.

Business test

The Regulations specify two example business tests to be considered when determining whether an activity is considered commercial, and therefore within scope. These are, whether the operator:

  • Makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
  • Earns any commission or fee from the activity.

Out of scope criteria

Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are not subject to licensing:

  • Businesses that look after the dog within its normal place of residence (i.e. dog sitters).

Fees and charges

The new legislation has resulted in changes to the animal activity licence fee structure.

These fees have been set in accordance with this legislation.

Making an application

The application form has been produced by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The Licensing Team
PO Box 100

Please note: The appropriate fee should always be paid online before  submitting the application.


We are required to carry out an inspection of all premises where licensable activities take place before an application can be determined. A ratings system has also been introduced where you will be given a rating dependant on a specified criteria.

Guidance and conditions

The general conditions set by the legislation are as follows, and also contain helpful guidance on complying with these conditions.

Existing licence holders

Licences held under the current system for home boarding establishments will continue until the expiry date shown on the licence. Prior to the expiry date of this licence, existing licence holders need to make an application for a licence under the new regulations and comply with the new requirements.

If you are the holder of an existing licence or registration you are advised to familiarise yourself with the new licence conditions, to ensure you are able to comply with these before making an application for a new licence.

The licensing for day care for dogs is a new provision, and has not prior to 1st October 2018 been licensable.

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.


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