Animal Activities Licensing 2018

New licensing regulations, known as the Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018 (AAL), come into force on 1 October 2018. They will replace a number of different pieces of animal establishment regulations, namely:

Boarding Establishments Act 1963
Pet Animals Act 1951
Riding Establishments Act 1968
Dog Breeding Act 1991
Performing Animals Act 1925

If you sell livestock, board dogs or cats during the day or overnight; exhibit animals or breed dogs on a commercial basis, you will likely be affected. Activities such as pet sitting, pet grooming and dog walking are not covered by the new regulations.

 Why is there a need for new regulations?

Existing laws covering a range of animal-related legislation have been in place for decades, and in that time there have been huge changes in pet owner attitudes and lifestyles. The new legislation takes account of different business models which have sprung up in response to these, as well as the rise of internet. A major criticism of current laws is that they are inconsistently applied across the country, with inspection fees varying hugely and the inspections themselves based on a variety of different criteria. These issues have also been addressed in the new regulations.

When and where do the new regulations come into force?

The new regulations come into force on 1 October 2018. They will only cover England, however. As animal welfare is a devolved activity, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will retain the existing legislation, but the devolved governments are keeping a close eye on Westminster and plans are afoot to update legislation in these areas too.

What is included in the new regulations?

The new AAL regulations will provide one generic licence for commercial pet businesses, regardless of how many licensable activities they are undertaking. However, there will be standardised criteria on the various activities providing a framework of minimum standards which businesses must meet in order to gain a licence. The regulations will be supported by a statutory guidance documents which will provide explanation to businesses and to local authorities about how the regulations can be met.

 Risk-Rating System

In addition, a star-rating system will be introduced for businesses, and local authorities will determine a business’s star rating based on welfare standards found during an inspection and on whether that business is deemed low or high risk. Businesses deemed low risk and meeting higher welfare standards will access the highest star ratings, which in turn is likely to lead to ‘light touch’ licensing and potentially lower fees. The new legislation will also provide the requirement for trained inspectors and the requirement for the training of licence holders and their staff.

Legislation and Guidance Documents

The draft regulations are available to view online at:

In addition, the supporting guidance for each activity is available below.

Commercial Dog Boarding - Kennels

Commercial Cat Boarding - Catteries

Commercial Home Boarding

Commercial Dog Daycare

Commercial Pet Vending

Commercal Dog Breeding

Animal Exhibits

Primary Authority

Don’t forget that as PIF members you are automatically opted in to our Primary Authority scheme, which we operate with the Corporation of London. This scheme can be used by PIF member businesses to arbitrate if they encounter difficulties with their local authority or receive unusual licensing stipulations. It’s like an extra insurance policy on licensing and it comes as part of PIF membership as long as the licensable business activity is covered by membership and you haven’t previously ‘opted out’ of the scheme. Further infromation is available on our Primary Authority page.

Further information

For further details, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or telephone 01234 273933. PIF will also be producing documents and additional information to help its member businesses comply with the new legislation.


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