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Pet shop licence

  • Business

To run a business selling pet animals you need a licence from the local authority.

You will also need to pay a fee. The fee covers the cost of administration, inspection and enforcement activity.

This includes all commercial selling of pet animals, including pet shops and businesses selling animals over the internet. A pet shop licence is not required if:

  • a person only occasionally sells the unwanted offspring of an animal that they keep as a pet
  • a person is in the business of breeding pedigree animals and in conjunction with the business sells animals as pets that were originally acquired for breeding or show purposes but are not suitable.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants for a pet shop licence must not previously have been disqualified from keeping a pet shop.

Regulation summary

The Pet Animals Act 1951 (as amended) protects the welfare of animals sold as pets. The Act requires any person keeping a pet shop to be licensed by the local authority. The legislation also prohibits the sale of pets in the street, including on barrows and markets.

The local authority may attach any conditions to the licence, may inspect the licensed premises at all reasonable times and may refuse a licence if the conditions at the premises are unsatisfactory or if the terms of the licence are not being complied with.

All pet shop licences run from 1 January to 31 December of the year to which they relate. Further information is available from the DEFRA website.

A copy of the act.

Application evaluation process

Before granting a licence the local authority must be satisfied that:

  • that animals will be kept in suitable accommodation, for example with regard to temperature, size, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
  • adequate food and drink will be provided to the animals and they will be visited at suitable intervals
  •  that any mammalian animals will not be sold too young
  •  that steps are taken to prevent disease spreading among the animals
  • that adequate fire and emergency provisions are in place.

An inspection of the premises will be carried out to assess this. Conditions can be attached to a licence to ensure that the above requirements are complied with.

Will tacit consent apply?

Yes. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the local authority by the end of the target completion period, which is 28 days.

Pet shop licence application form

Failed application redress

If the licensing authority rejects the application for a licence the applicant may appeal against the decision. Appeals must be made to the local Magistrates court within 21 days.

Licence holder redress

Any licence holder who objects to a condition attached to a licence may appeal to the local Magistrates court covering the area the premises is located. A court may give directions on the issue of a condition.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

Anyone who has not had a satisfactory response from the trader or who has reason to believe that a pet shop is keeping animals in seriously inadequate conditions should raise the matter with the local authority who will decide what action to take within the range of its powers.


  • Health and Safety Team
  • 9th Floor, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone, London N20 0EJ
  • Tel: 020 8359 7995
  • FAX: 0870 889 6793
  • Email: HealthandSafety@barnet.gov.uk

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