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Animal Welfare Licensing

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About animal welfare regulations

About animal boarding licences

Under the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018, several functions in relation to animal licensing require operators of such businesses to be licensed by the council. Any application for such a licence needs to be lodged with the council in which the business is based - usually where the animals are kept. The types of activities captured by these regulations are as follows:

  • dog and cat boarding (including home boarding)
  • dog day care
  • arranging dog and cat boarding / day care (third party websites and the like)
  • dog breeding
  • pet vending / sale of animals as pets
  • performing animals / training animals for exhibition
  • horse hire / riding establishment

Animal welfare licence requirements

Before a licence is granted, a council inspector, council appointed inspector or veterinary surgeon will check the site for suitability. Premises wishing to obtain a licence under the Regulations must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • the animals will at all times be kept in accommodation which is suitable in terms of construction, size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
  • animals will be given suitable food, drink and bedding materials
  • animals will be adequately exercised and socialised
  • all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control disease and infection, including the provision of isolation facilities
  • all reasonable steps will be taken to protect animals from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Premises will be re-inspected upon renewal of a licence. Other unannounced inspections may take place at any time during the validity of the licence.

Licences can be issued from 1 to 3 years, depending upon the star rating which is allocated to the premises following the inspection process. The only exception to this are licenses for performing animals, which are not given a star rating, and granted for three years.


The regulations covering the licensing of these functions are the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018.

The following offences and penalties apply in relation to offering these facilities without the correct consent and / or obstructing inspectors or veterinarian:

  • any person found guilty of keeping an animal boarding establishment without a licence may be subject to an unlimited fine, or up to six months imprisonment, or both
  • any person found guilty of failing to meet the conditions of their licences may be subject to an unlimited fine
  • any person found guilty of obstructing or delaying an inspector or authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner in the exercising of their powers of entry, may receive an unlimited fine
  • Any person or business found guilty of these offences may have their licence cancelled, and could be disqualified from operating another licence under the regulations for such a time as the court may see fit

Animal welfare

In Camden, we're committed to protecting the safety and welfare of all animals. In recognition of this we have adopted an Animal Welfare Charter.

There is a wide range of legislation to protect the health and welfare of animals in captivity.

This page explains the standards that owners and keepers must maintain and how to report suspected animal cruelty.

All owners and keepers of animals have a duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Owners and keepers must take positive steps to ensure they care for their animals properly and must work towards ensuring that animals are free from unnecessary pain and degradation, and experience the Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  • Freedom from discomfort;
  • Freedom from pain, disease, and injury;
  • Freedom from unnecessary constraint; and
  • Freedom from fear and distress.

The GOV.UK animal guidance lists the legislation and provides guidance on animal welfare.

How do I report suspected animal cruelty?

To report suspected cases of cruelty or neglect, please consider the type of animal and establishment they're kept in to help you identify the correct organisation to contact.

Farm animals: If you have an animal welfare concern regarding farm animals, you should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Animals in licensed premises (e.g. pet shops): If you suspect a problem concerning animal welfare in licensed premises, please contact Camden on 020 7974 4444.

All other cases: If you suspect that any other animal is being subjected to any form of cruelty, you should contact the RSPCA.

Microchipping dogs

Under The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015, it is compulsory for all keepers to ensure their dogs are microchipped and registered with an approved UK database:

Failure to ensure that a dog is microchipped attracts a fine.

Breeders must ensure their puppies are microchipped by the age of eight weeks and before they leave for their new home. For more information please visit GOV.UK.

The following people may microchip a dog:

  • A vet or veterinary nurse working under the direction of a vet
  • A student veterinary nurse or student veterinary surgeon, working under the direction of a vet
  • A person who has been on a training course approved by the Secretary of State
  • A person who has received training on implantation which included practical experience of implanting a microchip, before the new legislation came into force in April 2016.

There is usually a small fee to implant the microchip and add your details to a database. Some databases will also charge an admin fee each time you update your details. Speak to your database operator for more information.

Apply for a licence


There is a two-part fee to be paid when making an application for an animal boarding establishment licence. The first part is a non-refundable application fee, which is to cover the costs incurred by the council in considering the application. The second part is payable on grant of the licence, and is to cover any associated enforcement costs in relation to the animal welfare function.

The fees are dependent on which particular type of licence being applied for, amongst other factors, and this is detailed in the fees schedule. Some activities require additional fees, which have also been identified within the schedule.

Licences must be renewed before they expire to be able to offer continuous service. To ensure sufficient time for this to occur, it is recommended applicants apply for their renewals at least 10 weeks before the expiry of the current licence. We will send out reminders to existing licence holders of the requirement to renew 3 months before they are due.

Apply for a licence

Applicants must fill in the appropriate application form to make an application for an licence under the Regulations. The below forms cover all functions provided for in the regulations, be it a new, renewal or variation application. Please ensure the correct form is filled in, otherwise the application process may be delayed. Applications will not be considered until payment has been made. Once completed, please email the form to, along with any other supporting documentation.

If you are making a new application, or if significant changes have been made to the layout of the premises since the licence was last granted, you must submit a scale plan of the layout of the premises.

A written emergency plan must be submitted with all applications, as per Schedule 2, paragraph 10 of the Regulations.

Apply for a dog / cat boarding licence

Apply for a dog breeding establishment licence

Apply for a pet vending / sale of animals as pets licence

Apply for a performing animals / training animals for exhibition licence

Apply for a horse hire / riding establishment licence

Apply for a dog / cat boarding arranger's licence - please also fill in a host boarder information sheet for each host covered by the arranger's licence

What happens after you apply

Your application will be determined within ten weeks of the application being lodged with the council.

A mandatory inspection of the premises will be carried out by a qualified inspector appointed by the council. The inspector will then submit a report to the council from this inspection, with recommendations on whether to approve the licence, and if so, what star rating the premises should be given.

If successful, a licence will be issued for the premises for a period of 1 to 3 years, depending on what star rating has been awarded.

If the application is incomplete, insufficient or contains incorrect details, we will need to extend the period taken to determine the application, in order to obtain the necessary information or clarifications. The inspection will not take place until we have all of the information required.