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Animal welfare licence

We license businesses carrying out dog breeding, dog boarding (including home boarding), dog day care, cat boarding, horse riding establishments, pet shops and the exhibiting of animals. These licences are known as animal activity licences. 

We have separate webpages dealing with the licensing of exotic, dangerous and wild animals and zoos.

Contact us
If you have any questions about applications contact us at or 023 8028 5411

On this page:

Apply to board animals

Use this application to board, home board or provide day care for dogs or cats. Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire. 

Animal boarding application form (Word doc) [478KB] (opens new window)

Licence NameFee
Home boarding for dogs£275
Cat or dog boarding£360
Dog day care£360

Guidance on compliance is available here:

Home Boarding For Dogs Statutory Guidance
Cat Boarding Statutory Guidance
Dog Kennel Boarding Statutory Guidance
Dog Day Care Statutory Guidance

If you are a dog boarding franchiser arranging boarding with host families in the New Forest, you will need to apply for a home boarding licence. Should you also offer home boarding yourself, this would be subject to a separate dog boarding licence,   

Apply to breed dogs

Use this application if you intend to breed dogs for sale, irrespective of the number of litters and frequency of breeding. Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire. 

Breeding dogs application form (Word doc) [484KB] (opens new window)

The fee for a dog breeding licence is £388. A vet inspection will be required as part of this application, which will be charged separately.

Guidance on compliance is available here: Dog Breeding Statutory Guidance.

Apply to hire out horses

Use this application to apply to operate a horse riding establishment. Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire. 

Hiring out horses application form (Word doc) [513KB] (opens new window)

Licence Name

Horse riding establishment (up to nine horses)£538
Horse riding establishment (10 to 19 horses)£613
Horse riding establishment (20 or more horses)£660

A vet inspection will  be required as part of an application and each year of the licence term, which will be charged separately.

Guidance on compliance is available here: Hiring Out Horses Statutory Guidance

Adding Horses to a licence

Before a horse can be used in a riding school it must be added to the licence. 

In order for us to do this, we require a veterinary report from your vet. This report must include the name of horse, age, breed, microchip number and passport number. The vet should look at the eyes, heart and feet of the horse, trot it up and look at the fitting of the tack and whether it is suitable for tasks intended, such as hacking or lessons.

This report should be emailed to us with details of the request to

We will send an email confirmation and issue a new licence. The horse can not be used in a lesson or by the public until you have received the email confirmation. This will incur a £45 fee. Please allow three working days for us to process any requests.

Apply for a pet shop

Use this application to operate a pet shop. Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire. 

Selling animals as pets application form (Word doc) [512KB]

The fee for a pet shop licence is £338.

Guidance on compliance is available here: Selling Animals as Pets Statutory Guidance.

Apply to exhibit animals

Use this application to exhibit or have performing animals. Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire. 

Keeping or training animals for exhibition application form (Word doc) [502KB]

The fee for an exhibiting animals licence is £341.

Guidance on compliance is available here: Keeping Or Training Animals For Exhibition Statutory Guidance


If you are renewing an existing licence, you do not have to resend all of your operating procedures with the application unless you have amended them. If amendments have been made, you only need to include the new or amended procedures with your application. 

However, please do include with your application copies of any new insurance policies, details of training undertaken since your last renewal, including the record of any professional development training attended, any changes to staff or any significant changes to the business. This information will help to address some of the questions and areas that we need to consider during an inspection visit.    

We will contact you well in advance of of the expiry of your licence. You must ensure that you fully apply (including payment of the fee) at least 28 before your licence expires to ensure that we have sufficient time to process the application. If you do not, the licence may lapse and you may not operate.

Payment and Fees

Please ensure that you have paid the full relevant fee before submitting your application. This will prevent delays in your application being processed. 

You can pay by cheque at one of our Information Offices, or by bank transfer to:

Lloyds Bank Plc
Account code: 29293160
Sort code: 30 80 63

Please include a payment reference when you pay. For renewals, please supply your licence number as a payment reference in order for us to identify your payment. If you are a new applicant, please use either your Surname or Business Trading Name.

Following payment, send your completed application form, annotated with the date and method of payment, by email to or by post to:

Environmental and Regulation
New Forest District Council
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

If we refuse to issue a licence,  a proportion of the total fee will be refunded. This is typically about £50.


All premises will be inspected before a licence is granted. We will look at the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including:

  • the environment
  • protecting the animals from pain and suffering
  • diet
  • records
  • staffing 

The inspection findings will determine whether the 'minimum standards' have been achieved, whether the 'higher standards' have been met or if there are 'minor failings'. 

We also examine 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'.

Staff should have a specialist knowledge in the species they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare, including mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment. Staff should also have an understanding of the risks involved in caring for the animal, and have in place an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures subject to regular review. These documents should be available for the inspector to examine.

There should be training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.

Duration of licence

Following the inspection, in most instances we will be able to issue an animal activities licence. The duration of new licences is set for one, two or three years (except the keeping or training of animals for exhibition licences which last three years in every case), depending on compliance history, the perceived risk rating (low or high) and the level of welfare standards observed. 

Businesses are also given a star rating. Low-risk premises can be awarded up to five stars, and high-risk premises up to four stars. New businesses are assessed as slightly higher risk because there is no history of good practice. A premises with a good compliance history may be classed as low risk, and thus may receive a licence for up to three years.

A premise with a lower star rating is not one to avoid, and may have very high standards. It may simply be a newer operator who is yet to have a proven history of compliance.

Licence variation

Should it be necessary to vary the licence after it has been issued, this may be possible; any requests should be by email to

For example, it may be possible to alter the number or type of animals on a licence at any time duration the length of the licence. Please give us as much detail as possible, e.g., name, type and breed of animal, and microchip and passport details if applicable. We will contact you if additional information or a visit is required.

We will not unduly delay any reasonable request, but you should not undertake any additional activities until you have received confirmation.

We will send an email confirmation and issue a new licence. In line with our fees policy, we will charge £45 per hour for licence variation, with a minimum £45 fee.

Change of address

If you change business address, e.g. a home boarder moving house, or a commercial business relocating, your licence is no longer valid and you must not trade, including boarding any animals until the new licence is in place.  

This is because the inspection involves an assessment of the facilities at the property.  You will need to complete a new application form and pay the appropriate fee. We will then contact you and arrange an inspection of the new premises.

Request for re-rating

You may request a re-rating inspection if you have carried out works which you believe will improve your star rating.

A re-rating inspection fee of £226 will be charged.

The request must be made in writing or by email to It must outline the action that has been taken to improve the level of compliance or welfare since the inspection and, where appropriate, should include supporting evidence.

The supporting case should refer to those actions identified in the inspection that would need to be made to achieve a higher rating. If you do not supply sufficient information, we may not be able to undertake the re-rating inspection. 

Any successful re-inspection will be carried out within three months of receipt of the request. Following a re-inspection, the rating could go up, down or remain the same.

Appeal against your star rating

If you do not agree with the star rating or believe that it is unfair, you should speak to the inspecting officer in the first instance. The inspecting officer will explain how the rating was worked out, and may help to resolve the matter without the need for a formal appeal to be made. 

If you still think that the rating is incorrect, you can appeal. This must be submitted in writing, including by email to, within 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) following the issue of your licence. 

You will be responsible for the cost of any additional inspections relating to the appeal unless the appeal results in a higher rating being awarded. We will require payment for such a visit in advance which will be refunded if your appeal is successful. We will discuss this with you prior to doing a visit. There will be no charge if a decision can be made based on the paperwork alone.

The appeal will be determined within 21 days of date of receipt (including weekends and bank holidays). It will be undertaken by a senior officer not involved in the production of the inspection rating.

Further details on the appeal process are available on request.

Check if someone has a licence

If someone is providing any of the services listed on this webpage, you can check if they have a licence with us:

Trade associations

You may be interested in the Pet Industry Federation or the Association of Dog Boarders.

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