Animal welfare licence

We license businesses involved in dog breeding, dog and cat boarding (including home boarding), dog day care, the selling of pet animals and the exhibiting of animals. 

These activities are all covered under a single type of licence, known as an animal activity licence. 

This does not apply to licensing for exotic, dangerous and wild animals or zoo licensing.

On this page:

Apply for an animal activity licence

Your application for a licence should be made no later than ten weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for it to be administered. 

To apply for a new animal activity licence, download the relevant application form below.

Icon for word Animal boarding application form [478KB]

Icon for word Breeding dogs application form [484.5KB]

Icon for word Hiring out horses application form [513.5KB]

Icon for word Selling animals as pets application form [512.5KB]

Icon for word Keeping or training animals for exhibition application form [502KB]

If you wish to be licensed for more than one activity, complete one application form above, plus the relevant 'add-on' document below.

You will not need to enter your personal information and declaration on the 'add-on', as these are included on the main application.

Dog boarding includes dog day care so a separate application is not required. 

Icon for word Animal boarding add-on [98KB]

Icon for word Breeding dogs add-on [103.5KB]

Icon for word Hiring out horses add-on [133.5KB]

Icon for word Selling animals as pets add-on [137.5KB]

Icon for word Keeping or training animals for exhibition add-on [121KB]


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 cpd 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.    

Payment and Fees

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

Table of fees for animal welfare licences

Licence nameLicence fee
Pet shops£276
Dog breeding£316
Cat or dog boarding£297
Home boarding for dogs£225
Dog day care£225
Horse riding establishment (up to nine horses)£440
Horse riding establishment (10 to 19 horses)£501
Horse riding establishment (20 or more horses)£541
Keeping animals for exhibition£276
Re-rating InspectionFee
Fee for a Re-rating£185


Additional costs

  • Dog breeding applications will be charged for a vet inspection.
  • Horse riding establishments will be charged for a vet inspection on application and yearly throughout licence term.

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

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

Payment Reference: 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

Guidance documents

The legislation is accompanied by new nationally set licence conditions. These are contained in Schedules 3 to 7 of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

The following documents provide the activities contained in the regulations, along with the up to date guidance. This is available to operators in achieving compliance, and to inspectors when undertaking an inspection.

Icon for pdf Boarding in kennels for dogs guidance [457.45KB]

Icon for pdf Home boarding for dogs guidance [598.69KB]

Icon for pdf Day care for dogs guidance [461.71KB]

Icon for pdf Breeding dogs guidance [649.97KB]

Icon for pdf Boarding for cats guidance [1.22MB]

Icon for pdf Selling animals as pets guidance [994.52KB]

Icon for pdf Hiring out horses guidance [496.61KB]

Icon for pdf Exhibition of animals guidance [616.3KB]


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:

  • records
  • staffing
  • the environment
  • diet
  • the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. 

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

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
  • knowledge of environmental enrichment.

Staff should also have an understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. 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

The inspection findings will be fed into a scoring matrix which determines the licence duration of one, two or three years. It also determines a star rating, which will be given to you.

You can download the scoring matrix document below.

Icon for pdf Scoring Matrix for Animal Activity Licence [47.31KB]

This scoring matrix does not apply to the activity of keeping or training animals for exhibition, which will receive a three year licence.

If you are not happy with the decision, you can make improvements to address highlighted issues and ask for a re-rating inspection.

If you are a new applicant and do not have a compliance history with us or a relevant UKAS qualification, you will automatically be considered higher risk.

If you have a compliance history you may be classed as low risk, and consequently 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.

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 £185 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. They 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. 

An fee will be charged to determine an appeal, which will be refunded should a higher rating be awarded. 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.

Public register

We publish a public register of all animal activity licences awarded to businesses in New Forest.

Trade associations

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

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