Shropshire Council

Selling animals as pets

Licences to sell animals as pets are issued under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

Who needs a licence sell animals as pets?

  • Any business importing, distributing or selling animals as pets, or with a view to them being later resold as pets. This includes businesses registered with companies house and businesses or individuals operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes who may or may not be registered with companies house
  • Premises open to the public or to other businesses where animals are available for purchase

General indicators of running a business selling animals as pets may include:

  • The import, distribution and sale of animals by means of a fixed fee
  • The purchase of animals with the express intent to sell them on
  • Animals being bought and then re-advertised for sale or sold within a short period of time
  • The number, frequency and/or volume of sales, or systematic and repeated transactions using the same means of advertising
  • High volumes of animals sold or advertised for sale or high numbers of litters or progeny
  • Low volumes of animals sold or advertised for high sales prices
  • High numbers of advertisements of animals for sale, at any one time, over a short period of time or regularly, including on classified websites
  • Advertising through a variety of sites, forums or media

Who doesn’t need a licence to sell animals as pets?

  • A private individual who breeds animals as a hobby, for pleasure, for exhibition for prize or for education, study or scientific advancement infrequently selling a small number of surplus offspring/excess stock
  • Organised events where people meet to sell surplus animals they have bred, or animals that are surplus to their requirements, whether or not this is open to the public
  • Aquacultural production businesses that are authorised under regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, and that are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate

What is the ‘business test’?

The regulations specify two business tests to be considered when deciding if an activity is commercial, and therefore requires a licence. They're not the only method to determine if a licence is required, but we must take them into account when deciding if a licence is required:

  1. Does the operator make any sale, or otherwise carry on the activity, with a view to making a profit, or;
  2. Does the operator earn any commission or fee from the activity

These two tests will be considered, alongside the factors in the ‘Who needs a licence to sell animals as pets’ section above when determining if a licence is required.

What is the ‘star rating’ and how is it worked out?

All licences subject to the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 will be given a star rating. The purpose of the star rating is to ensure consistency on the implementation and operation of the licensing system, and to ensure that consumers can clearly see the star rating a business has received and therefore the risk level and standards of animal welfare they have.

The star rating is determined by a scoring matrix set out in the regulations in order to calculate the star rating. The results of an inspection of a premises and an assessment of the level of risk a business poses are combined to produce a rating between one and five stars. The higher the star rating the better the standards of the business.

Can I change or appeal against the star rating my business has been given?

Businesses in receipt of a star rating of between one and four which have accepted the original rating, but subsequently made the necessary improvements to address non-compliances or issues identified during the original inspection, can request a re-inspection of the business. This request should be made by completing the application form in the related documents section of this page. There is a fee for making this request.

Once you've made a request for a re-inspection it will be assessed to ensure that the necessary improvements have been made. When we're satisfied that necessary changes have been made the re-inspection will be carried out within three months of the application for re-inspection.

There's no limit to the number of re-inspections you can request, but you'll be charged for each. We can also refuse a re-inspection request if it's decided that the necessary improvements have either not been carried out, or not been carried out to a sufficient standard, to warrant a re-inspection.

You should be aware that a re-inspection for re-rating purposes could result in a lower star rating being awarded, rather than an increase in the rating.

Appealing a star rating

If you don't accept the star rating you're given you can appeal against it. This must be done within 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) of the date your licence was issued. You should make your appeal in writing (either by post or email) to the Licensing Team.

We'll always aim to discuss and resolve appeals informally in the first instance to avoid the need for a formal appeal to be lodged. If you do enter into informal discussions this doesn't change the period in which you can formally appeal. You should therefore consider lodging the formal appeal at the beginning of the process, and if it can be informally resolved the appeal may be withdrawn.

Appeals will be determined by a senior officer in the Trading Standards and Licensing Service. We have 21 days (including weekends and bank holidays) from the date the appeal is received to consider it and reach a decision. The paperwork from the original inspection and past record of the business will be considered, and in some circumstances a further visit to the business may be required.

If an additional inspection is required, the fee (link to animal fees page) for a re-inspection will be payable by the applicant, This is refundable if a higher star rating is awarded as a result of the appeal.

How long does a licence last?

The length of a selling animals as pets licence is determined by its star rating:

  • 1 star = one-year licence
  • 2 star = one-year licence
  • 3 star = two-year licence
  • 4 star = two-year licence
  • 5 star = three-year licence

A licence runs from the date it's granted and must be renewed by the anniversary of the date it was granted in either one, two or three years, depending on the star rating (see above).

Existing licence holders will receive a reminder from us three months before their licence is due for renewal, with a renewal application pack enclosed. Renewal applications must be returned to us a minimum of ten weeks before the expiry date of the initial licence.

How do I apply for a licence?

If you'd like an advisory visit from a licensing officer prior to making your application, please contact the Licensing Team using the details on this page.

Download the application form from this page and complete all the relevant sections. Don’t leave any blank questions in the sections of the application that apply to you. If you don’t have anything to record in a particular question, put ‘none’ or ‘not applicable’.

Send the application to the Licensing Team by one of the methods on the front page of the form. You must send your application with all the required supporting documentation detailed in the application. If you submit an incomplete application or it doesn’t have all the necessary documentation with it the application will not be accepted.

You must send the application with the appropriate initial application fee (Link to animal fees page). Applications not submitted with the fee can't be processed.

All new and renewal applications for selling animals as pets licences are subject to an inspection by a licensing officer. Once your application has been validated an officer will contact you to arrange the necessary inspections.

What conditions apply to a selling animals as pets licence?

The conditions attached to selling animals as pets licences are set out in the Regulations. The conditions are mandatory and can't be added to, deleted or amended by us. You can find the conditions and the guidance which accompanies them in the 'Related documents' section of this page.

How much will it cost?

There is a fee for issuing this document, which is taken when you apply.

Apply now

Download the form, complete it on your home computer, and email it to

Download an application form

Download the form, print it out, fill it in and post your application along with the fee if applicable to:

The Licensing Team, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND

Download an application form