Pet Shops


The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 ("the regulations") came into force on 1 October 2018 and covers the selling of animals as pets.

What is "selling animals as pets"?

The legislation defines it as selling animals as pets (or with a view to their being later resold as pets) in the course of a business, including keeping animals in the course of a business, with a view to their being so sold or resold.

To determine if you are a business, you will need to consider the 'business test'.

Applying the business test

A business is defined in the legislation as an operator who:

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

The Government announced in the Budget Review of 2016 a new allowance of £1,000 for trading income from April 2017. Anyone falling under this threshold would not need to be considered on the context of determining whether they are a business.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that these conditions are not the exclusive factors to be considered but are examples and other factors, such as those listed in theNine badges of trade set out by the HMRC are also relevant. The guidance assists inspectors, but ultimately there is an element of judgement in deciding upon the business test.

Please also read the considerations for the business test below. If you are not sure if you are classed as a business, please email the Licensing Team with the details of your business and we can help determine this.

When do you require a licence?

The listed activities require a licence:

  • The import, distribution and sale of animals by a business
  • Businesses registered with Companies House
  • Businesses or individuals operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes (it should be noted that many may not be listed with Companies House)
  • Premises that are open to members of the public or to other businesses where animals are available for purchase

The following considerations assist in applying the business test when the "selling animals as pets" licence applies:

  • The import, distribution and sale of animals by means of a fixed fee
  • The purchase of animals with the express intent to sell them on
  • Where animals are bought and then re-advertised for sale or sold within a short period of time
  • The number, frequency and/or volume of sales - systematic and repeated transactions using the same means of advertising are likely to indicate a commercial activity
  • High volumes of animals sold or advertised for sale or high numbers of litters or progeny could indicate a business
  • Low volumes of animals sold or advertised could indicate a business where high sales prices or large profit margins are involved
  • High range and variability in the animals traded. A wide variety of species or taxa being traded could indicate the commercial nature of the activity
  • High numbers of advertisements of animals for sale, including on classified websites, could indicate commercial behaviour, even where there is no actual sale taking place via the Internet. This could be high numbers of advertisements at any one time or over a short period of time, and/or regularly
  • Advertising through a variety of sites, forums or media could indicate a commercial activity

When do you not require a licence?

The listed activities do not require a licence:

  • Where the licensable activity of "breeding dogs" applies
  • The infrequent sale of a small quantity of surplus offspring/excess stock by a private individual who breeds animals as a hobby, for pleasure, exhibition for prize, or for education, study or scientific advancement. 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
  • 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
  • Aquacultural Production Businesses that are authorised under Regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, and that are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate

The following considerations assist in applying the business test when the "selling animals as pets" licence does not apply:

  • The number, frequency and/or volume of sales - irregular transactions, low and/or irregular numbers of adverts/sales or low numbers/values of animals sold are likely to indicate the activity is not commercial in its nature
  • Where an individual can demonstrate the activity is undertaken as a hobby or for education or scientific advancement, and that they are only selling surplus stock, without making a profit. This could be demonstrated by producing evidence such as:
    • Reports or studies prepared by the individual in relation to the species kept, including self-published, published for scientific journals, published in the pet trade or hobby media, or demonstrable contributions to conservation projects
    • Competition entry forms for the animals kept by the individual
    • Registered membership of a club or society relevant to the animals kept by the individual

Make an application

The fee for this application can be found onthe animal welfare fees page. We will contact you to take payment once we have received a fully completed application.

Please Note: Only pay the application fee associated with the type of Licence you are applying for first. The Compliance fees are paid after the application is determined.

Before completing the form make sure you have all the supporting documentation ready - applications without all supporting documents will not be accepted

  • Plan of the premises
  • Insurance Policy
  • Written operating procedures to include emergency plan, staff training policy
  • Risk assessments (including fire)
  • Management of the following - feeding, cleaning, transportation, disease control, health and welfare, death or escape
  • Staff qualifications
  • Staff Training/experience records

Apply online for a Pet Shop licence (new or renewal)

If you don't wish to apply online you can complete and submit thePet Shop licence application form and above documents by email or post.

Please contact the Licensing Team if you have any questions with the application form

Legislation and Guidance

Please refer to the legislation and relevant guidance when you make your application which can be found on theCFSG website

Check for a licence and rating

When choosing to buy a pet, ensure you choose a licensed establishment. From 1 October 2018, all new animal welfare licence holders must clearly display their licence on their premises and display their name and licence number on any website they use. Please note that current licence holders are not required to display the licence number on their websites until their new licence starts on 1 January.

The new licence also contains a star rating which the business has achieved. We recommend display of the star rating on any website but this is not a legal requirement.

If a licence number is not displayed you can check for a licence by sending the name and address of the boarding establishment to the Licensing Team

Raise a concern

If you have any concerns about a premises in Breckland, please email the Licensing Team with details of the premises or if urgent call 01362 656870. Clearly state your concerns and your reason for them. All matters of concern will be investigated and complaints are kept confidential.

Last updated: 06/05/2022 13:56:33