If you keep or train animals for exhibition, you may need an animal activity licence. To obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions.
Please note: Due to COVID-19 we have reviewed our processes to ensure we can comply with our legal responsibilities to safely inspect premises and be able to determine applications. We will now be doing this in a two-stage process, which will initially involve a remote assessment, followed by a site inspection. It is hoped that by completing most of the assessment remotely via phone, that the time spent on site to carry out the physical inspection will be considerably less.
- Remote Assessments – These will usually take place within 4 weeks of an application (subject to receipt of all relevant documentation)
- Site Inspection – These will usually take place within 8 weeks of an application.
Do I need a licence?
You will need a licence if you are:
- A business which keeps animals for exhibition, either for entertainment or educational purposes. This includes mobile animal exhibits that visit schools, weddings, private parties, fairs and other events where an audience is present
- Running pony parties where the ponies are not ridden.
- A business which keep animals for exhibition via electronic media, for example, animals used in films or TV
- A business which trains animals for exhibition, either to an audience or via electronic media
- Exhibiting domestic animals in a circus.
- Any business based outside of England that brings in an animal for exhibition. These businesses must apply to the first authority in which they will be performing or where the animals are to be kept for the duration of their stay.
For further guidance visit GOV.UK (external link).
When do I NOT need a licence?
You will NOT need a licence if you are:
- Agents who organise for the exhibition of animals, but do not own them or train them themselves and thus have limited or no contact with the animals. Agents who arrange for the supply of animals for an exhibit should ensure all keepers and trainers are licensed and comply with the regulations
- An animal show where animals are exhibited (e.g. Crufts, animal trade shows). If individual participants are in the business of exhibiting animals and receive a fee for doing so, they will need to have a licence, but the show itself does not require a licence as it is not responsible for the animals exhibited
- Training or exhibiting animals for military or police purposes (i.e. training police dogs, demonstrations of police/military dogs at fairs)
- A registered charity that exhibits animals as part of their charitable work, unless such registered charities are running this element of their operations as a commercial activity.
- Training or exhibiting animals for sporting purposes, for example, horse racing and greyhound racing
- Exhibiting wild animals within a licensed circus.
- A licensed zoo.
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.
To find out how much your animal activity licence will cost, see:
How to apply
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 complying with the new conditions (external link).
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.