Selling Animals as Pets

If your business imports, distributes or sells animals you are subject to licensing. This applies to premises open to members of the public, other businesses where animals are available for purchase…

If your business imports, distributes or sells animals you are subject to licensing. This applies to premises open to members of the public, other businesses where animals are available for purchase and to businesses or individuals operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes.

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.

When do I NOT need a licence?

You will NOT need a licence if you:

  • The infrequent sale of a small number 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

How To Apply

Read the Statutory Guidance and Conditions.

Complete and submit the application form, along with the relevant supporting documents and the application fee. Click here for fees.

If you wish to pay online - Click here to make payment and quote payment reference on the application.

We recommend you contact our Planning Department to determine whether a planning application is required.

Business Support

We offer a range of business regulatory support services which may be of assistance. These are available to help assist businesses to be more successful and compliant.

Application Process

As part of the application process, an inspection will be carried out by one of our officers of the premises where the licensable activities will take place . This inspection will determine the star rating and the length of the licence.

A vet will also carry out an inspection of the animals.

The inspection looks at both the general conditions and the higher standards. Details on how risk rating are determined are available in the Procedural Guidance for Local Authorities.

All premises are inspected before a licence is granted, and the inspector will look at the following areas:-

  • The applicant should have a comprehensive records showing information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activity.

  • The officer will require to see the applicant has a good understanding of the risks involved in the care of the animals. Extensive risk assessments, written policies and procedures, all which should be regularly reviewed will need to be shown during the inspection.

  • Training records and procedures that are in place.

  • Assessment of the premises will take place, to ensure they meet with the laws relating to the physical environment in which the animals are kept.

Premises with lower star ratings

A premise with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premise to avoid, as other factors are also taken into consideration, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed at a slightly higher risk because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.


The Council may refuse to:-

  • grant or renew a licence, or

  • revoke or vary a licence

Any person who is aggrieved by a decision may appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal within 28 days of the decision.


Licence holders must submit renewal applications at least 12 weeks prior to the expiry of the licence. This enables the application to be accessed, and inspections carried out, so the activity can continue to operate without a break.


A5 Application for a Licence to sell animals as pets [docx / 46KB]

Useful links

Animal Welfare Licensing Procedural Guidance

Guidance notes for conditions for Selling of Animals as Pets