Selling animals as pets

Changes to legislation →

On 1st October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (external link) came into force. This legislation has changed the way dog breeding is licensed and regulated.

As of 6th April 2020, an amendment to the Animal Welfare (Licensing Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, means that puppies and kittens under the age of 6 months can no longer be sold by a pet shop, commercial dealer or anyone other than a licensed breeder. This includes puppies which are imported.

Anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten under six months must either deal directly with the breeder or an animal re-homing centre.

If you sell animals as pets, you may need an animal activity licence. In order to obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for selling animals as pets.

Do I need a licence?

You will need a licence if you are:

  • A business importing, distributing and selling animals
  • A business registered with Companies House
  • An individual or business operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes (it should be noted that many may not be listed with Companies House)
  • Premises open to members of the public or to other businesses where animals are available for purchase.

For further guidance on the conditions visit GOV.UK (external link).

When do I NOT need a licence?

You will NOT need a licence if you:

  • Breed animals as a hobby, for pleasure, exhibition for prize, or for education, study or scientific advancement and infrequently sell a small number of surplus offspring/excess stock. For low value species that may produce large numbers of excess stock, consideration should be given to the value of the stock and the likelihood that the seller is making a profit
  • Attend organised events where people meet to sell surplus animals they have bred, or animals that are surplus to their requirements, whether or not this is open to the public. Selling pet animals as a business from a market or stall is prohibited under Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951
  • Are an Aquacultural Production Business authorised under regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, and are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate.

For further guidance on the conditions visit GOV.UK (external link).


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

How to apply


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).

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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