On 1st October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (external link) came into force. This legislation has changed the way certain activities involving animals is licensed and regulated. This includes the keeping or training animals for exhibition.
The new licence will be referred to as an ‘Animal Activity Licence’. In order to obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for keeping or training animals for exhibition.
Do I need a licence?
Keeping or training animals for exhibition is defined as:
“In the course of a business for educational or entertainment purposes:
- To any audience attending in person, or
- By the recording of visual images of them by any form of technology that enables the display of such images."
In scope criteria
Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:
- Businesses which keep animals for exhibition, either for entertainment or educational purposes. This includes mobile animal exhibits that visit schools, weddings, private parties, fairs and other events where an audience is present.
- Pony parties where the ponies are not ridden.
- Businesses which keep animals for exhibition via electronic media, for example, animals used in films or TV.
- Businesses which train animals for exhibition, either to an audience or via electronic media.
- Exhibiting domestic animals in a circus.
- Any business based outside of England that brings in an animal for exhibition. These businesses must apply to the first authority in which they will be performing or where the animals are to be kept for the duration of their stay.
The Regulations specify two example business tests to be considered when determining whether an activity is considered commercial, and therefore within scope. These are, whether the operator:
- Makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
- Earns any commission or fee from the activity.
Out of scope criteria
Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are not subject to licensing:
- Agents who organise for the exhibition of animals, but do not own them or train them themselves and thus have limited or no contact with the animals. Agents who arrange for the supply of animals for an exhibit should ensure all keepers and trainers are licensed and comply with the Regulations.
- Animal shows where animals are exhibited (e.g. Crufts, animal trade shows). If individual participants are in the business of exhibiting animals and receive a fee for doing so, they will need to have a licence, but the show itself does not require a licence as it is not responsible for the animals exhibited.
- Training or exhibiting animals for military or police purposes (i.e. training police dogs, demonstrations of police/military dogs at fairs).
- Registered charities that exhibit animals as part of their charitable work, unless such registered charities are in practice running this element of their operations as a commercial activity.
- Training or exhibiting animals for sporting purposes, for example, horse racing and greyhound racing.
- Exhibiting wild animals within a licensed circus.
- Licensed zoos.
Fees and charges
The new legislation has resulted in changes to the animal activity licence fee structure.
These fees have been set in accordance with this legislation.
Making an application
The application form has been produced by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The Licensing Team
PO Box 100
Please note: The appropriate fee should always be paid online before submitting the application.
We are required to carry out an inspection of all premises where licensable activities take place before an application can be determined. A ratings system has also been introduced where you will be given a rating dependant on a specified criteria.
Guidance and conditions
The general conditions set by the legislation are as follows, and also contain helpful guidance on complying with these conditions.
Existing licence holders
Registrations held under the current system for performing animals will continue in force until 1st April 2019. Prior to this date, existing registration holders will need to make an application for a licence under the new regulations and comply with the new requirements.
If you are the holder of an existing registration you are advised to familiarise yourself with the new licence conditions, to ensure you are able to comply with these before making an application for a new licence.
We maintain a public register of all the businesses which hold an animal activity licence, a copy of which is available below. This will be updated on a regular basis.