Animal related licences

Changes to Animal Welfare Licensing

The Government has recently published the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 This link will take you to an external website...  under section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The effect of the new regulations is to replace some existing licensing regimes and to put in place a new licensing regime to control the following 

licensable activities:

If you have a current licence under one of the above activities it will continue to be valid until it is due to expire. You will then need to apply for a licence under the new regulations. 

We will write to all current licence holders with licences which will shortly expire, to invite them to apply for a new licence. Ideally an application for a licence under the new regulations should be made no later than 10 weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for the application to be dealt with. When available a standard application form will be made available on our website.

Duration of licences

Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either 1, 2 or 3 years. During inspection we will consider two main aspects:

  • Firstly the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including records, staffing, the environment, diet, and the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', 'minimum standards' are achieved or 'higher standards' have been met.
  • Secondly, the risk, which is largely based on the history of compliance of the business, and also upon the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.

The inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the licence duration, and a star rating which will be given to a business.

Scoring Matrix

Welfare Standards

Minor Failings      

Minimum Standards

Higher Standards   


Low Risk

1 Star

(1 year license)

3 Star

(2 year license)

5 Star

(3 year license)

Higher Risk

1 Star

(1 year license)

2 Star

(1 year license)

4 Star

(2 year license)

Licence Conditions

The conditions which will be attached to licences are in Schedules 3 to 7 of the regulations and will depend on the licensable activities.

Riding Establishments will still be required to have all horses used under the act annually inspected by a local authority veterinary surgeon.


South Oxfordshire District Council is yet to set the fees that will be charged for licences under the new regulations. Once the fees have been approved, they will be available to view on our website.

Dangerous Wild Animals and Zoos

The new regulations do not have any impact upon licences issued under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Exhibiting Animals

Animals kept for training and exhibition will now be licensed by the local authority.

Last reviewed: 17 - 10 - 2018

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