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Do you need a licence to board animals? How do you apply and pay for a boarding establishment licence? How do you change the licence, and what other permissions might you need? Who regulates the licence and what happens if you don't apply?
Do I need a licence to board animals?
Yes. If you want to board dogs or cats you will require an Animals Activity licence giving permission for one or more of the following activities:
If you are unsure which category you fall into you can contact the licensing team for further advice:
A cattery is a boarding establishment for cats, usually providing accommodation for one or two cats from each household for a period of time whilst their owners are away or unable to look after them.
A kennel is a boarding establishment for dogs, usually providing a kennel big enough for one, two or three dogs from the same household with the facilities for the dog to exercise. Some kennels offer day crèche facilities, within the boarding kennels with dog socialisation.
A day crèche is a boarding establishment providing daycare, for dogs from different households, during the day with no overnight accommodation.
Find out more information on home boarding licences on the Home boarding page.
How do I apply for an animal boarding establishment licence?
If you are new to the whole or an area of animal activities licensing and require advice and guidance on applying for an animal boarding licence, we offer a pre-application advice service. The fee for this service is £107 plus VAT.
Please note: we cannot offer pre-application advice to any person who is subject to compliance/intervention or enforcement action by the Licensing Team.
If you would like to book a pre-application advice meeting please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From 1 October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving animals) (England) Regulations 2018 took effect for all new applications made.
Any application made will need to fully comply with the new regulations as below, we advise anyone looking to start a business in this area to fully read and ensure they could meet all aspects of the regulations and guidance.
You can now apply online for an animal activities licence, payment will be required at the end of the form for the form to be submitted to the licensing team for consideration.
alternatively you can apply for an animal boarding establishment by completing the below application form and submitting it by email to:
The application form must be accompanied by all the supporting documents listed in the declaration on the application form, an application will not be accepted without all required documents.
Once you have submitted a valid and complete application you will be contacted by a licensing officer, who will arrange to visit and inspect your boarding accommodation. In order to have your licence issued, you will need to meet the regulations shown above for each activity applied for.
If you meet all requirements, your licence will be granted following inspection within 10 weeks of a complete application.
If you are unable to meet the requirements for a licence, the officer discusses your application further with you at that time.
A tacit consent does not apply to this application, meaning your application will not be automatically granted after a specified period of time. Each application must be assessed on its own merits as every premise requires inspecting to ensure the standards required are fully met.
How do I renew my animal boarding licence?
If you hold a current animal activities licence, you will need to complete the renewal request 10 weeks prior to its expiry date.
You can now apply online to renew your animal boarding licence, payment will be required at the end of the form.
Please note: that failure to make the payment will mean we will not receive your renewal application.
How can I change my animal boarding licence?
Please email email@example.com for further advice.
What other permissions may I need?
If you are applying for an animal boarding licence you may also need to speak to:
Who regulates boarding establishments?
The licensing team are the regulators for animal activities licensing.
If a business holds a licence it should be on display in a prominent position at the premises.
If you have concerns about premises operating under a licence, have a complaint or would like to report a business that you are concerned are operating without a licence you can contact the licensing team, by one of the following way:
Please ensure you provide as much information as you can to help us.
You will be required to give your name and contact details so that we can ensure that the complaint is genuine.
Your details will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed unless the investigation results in a prosecution at which stage your details would have to be disclosed.
What happens if I do not apply for an animal boarding licence?
If you board cats or dogs, providing them with accommodation, then you will require an animal activities licence.
If you are found to be operating without such a licence in place, the licensing team may prosecute you.
Who is licensed to provide dog/cat boarding?
Information about who is licensed to provide boarding is available in the PDF files below:
What do the star ratings really mean?
Under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 the local authority now issues a STAR rating to each premise based on a number of factors.
The star rating scheme is set by central government and applies nationally, this works a little different to other start rating schemes because it does not work on a sliding scale.
1 Star: These premises are existing businesses that are failing to meet the minimum standards.
2 Star: These premises do meet all of the mandatory minimum standards, however, they are deemed to be higher risk.
Premises could be deemed at high risk because they are a new operator that has been opened or been taken over in the past 12 months or because of non-compliance such as substantiated complaints within the last 3 years.
3 Star: These premises meet all of the mandatory standards set out in the new regulations and are providing a high level of animal welfare to the animals on the premises. These premises have been inspected to check that they meet satisfactory standards in areas of accommodation and enrichment.
4 Star**: These premises meet all of the mandatory standards and a set of higher standards that are specific to the activity they are licensed for. However, they are deemed to be at higher risk**. A premises could be deemed at high risk because they are a new operator that has been opened or taken over in the past 12 months or because of non-compliance such as substantiated complaints within the last 3 years.
5 Star**: These premises meet all of the mandatory standards and a set of higher standards** that are specific to the activity they are licensed for which are attached.
The higher standards are optional. In some cases existing businesses are unable to meet the higher standards because their business and buildings were already established, in other cases, the operator opts to not undertake the higher standards for other reasons such as they do not wish to provide additional services it requires.