Keeping or training animals for exhibition licence

If you or your business are keeping or training animals for exhibition, you will require an animal licence.

It is your responsibility to ensure you have a current licence. If you operate without a licence or fail to follow licensing conditions, you may face a fine and/imprisonment.

Licence summary

A local authority may authorise an officer, veterinary surgeon or practitioner to inspect licensed premises.


Complete the Application for a licence for keeping or training an animal (PDF).

To apply, vary or renew a licence, you must comply with the licence conditions and guidance.

For an application please contact:

Licensing Partnership
PO Box 182
TN13 1GP

Or email

Written procedures and records

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018
Keeping or Training of Animals for Exhibition: Required procedures and records to be kept

This highlights the written policies, procedures and records that are required to meet the minimum conditions.

With your completed application form you need to submit the following:

  1. all your written procedures (these are all listed below)
  2. copy of a valid public liability insurance certificate
  3. welfare risk assessment

By submitting all the above will ensure you will meet the minimum conditions for a license to be granted.

List of required written procedures for Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition

4.1 - Sufficient numbers of people who are competent for the purpose must be available to provide a level of care that ensures that the welfare needs of all the animals are met.

Written instructions must be provided for staff on the provision of health care and the procedures to be followed in the event of an incident involving any venomous animal and a member of the public or staff member.

4.3 - Written training policy for all staff.

(Must include annual appraisal, Continuous Professional Development, recognition of knowledge gaps).

5.5 - Procedures must be in place to ensure accommodation and any equipment within it is cleaned as often as necessary and good hygiene standards are maintained. The accommodation must be capable of being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

7.5 - All immature animals must be given suitable and adequate opportunities to:

(a) learn how to interact with people, their own species and other animals where such interaction benefits their welfare, and
(b) become habituated to noises, objects and activities in their environment

There must be a plan in place for any animals to be familiarised early on with any stimulus or combination of stimuli they are likely to experience such as individual handling, audiences and crowds, loud noises and activities going on around them.

8.2 - The animals must be kept separately or in suitable compatible social groups appropriate to the species and individual animals. No animals from a social species may be isolated or separated from others of their species for any longer than is necessary.

A policy must be in place for monitoring the introduction of new animals to existing groups to avoid stress to either new or resident animals and outlining steps that must be taken should a problem arise.

9.1 - Written procedures must:

(a) be in place and implemented covering:

(i) feeding regimes
(ii) cleaning regimes
(iii) transportation
(iv) the prevention of and control of the spread of disease
(v) monitoring and ensuring the health and welfare of all the animals
(vi) the death / escape of an animal (including the storage of dead animals)

(b) be in place covering the care of the animals following the suspension or revocation of the licence or during and following an emergency

9.3 - Appropriate isolation, in separate self-contained facilities, must be available for the care of sick, injured or potentially infectious animals.

Adequate isolation facilities may be on site or at another location, such as a local veterinary practice or through specific changes in management practices demonstrated by written procedures. If the isolation facility is at another location, such as a local licensee a letter must be provided by the practice stating that they are prepared to provide such facilities.

10.1 - A written emergency plan, (to ensure appropriate steps are taken to protect all the people and animals on the premises in case of fire or in case of breakdowns for essential heating, ventilation and aeration or filtration systems or other emergencies).

Before any of the animals arrive on-site of an exhibit location, an emergency plan must be in place. This should include the recovery and treatment of any escaped animals and evacuation procedures in the event of a fire, flood, etc.

An emergency plan must include a list of any listed species on the current Schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animal Act held, where applicable, and the specific action plan for their safe removal and immediate appropriate rehoming in the case of emergency.

10.2 - The plan must include details of the emergency measures to be taken for the extrication of the animals should the premises become uninhabitable and an emergency telephone list that includes the fire service and police.

Note: Your emergency plan should be one to two sides of A4 and cover all the requirements stated above.

1.1 - The licence holder must hold valid public liability insurance in respect of the licensable activity of keeping or training animals for exhibition.

A copy of the insurance policy document must be taken to all exhibits. It must be ready for inspection, if needed.

2.1 - A written policy detailing contingency measures in the event of the breakdown of a vehicle used to transport the animals or any other emergency must be available to all staff.

7.7 - The licence holder or the licence holder’s staff must undertake a risk assessment before each exhibition event.

The welfare risk assessment must assess against each of the 5 welfare needs of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It must state the:

  • mitigating measures taken to reduce risks
  • people responsible for this
Records to be kept by operator and will be checked during inspections
Condition Details of what to record
4.3 Staff training records (records of courses, written or online learning, keeping up to date with any research or developments and annual appraisals) .
5.9 The animals must not be left unattended in any situation or for any period likely to cause them distress. A documented system of recording observation for illness, injury or behavioural problems must be maintained.
6.2 Feed and (where appropriate water intake) must be monitored, any problems to be recorded and addressed. Abnormalities in eating and/or drinking habits must be recorded, reported to the appropriate member of staff and acted upon. Appropriate veterinary advice must be sought if necessary.
7.3 The animals’ behaviour and any changes of behaviour must be monitored. The behaviour of individual animals must be monitored daily and changes in behaviour and/or behaviours indicative of stress, fear, pain and anxiety must be recorded and acted upon.
9.12 No person may euthanise an animal except a vet or a person who has been authorised by a vet as competent for such purpose or: (a) in the case of fish, a person who is competent for such purpose (b) in the case of horses, a person who is competent, and who holds a licence or certificate, for such purpose If euthanasia is not carried out by, or under the direct supervision of, a vet this must be recorded. The records must be available for inspection and detail:
why the animal was euthanised
the method used
the member of staff who euthanised the animal
9.14 Any signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour must be recorded and the advice and further advice (if necessary) of a veterinarian (or in the case of fish, of an appropriately competent person) must be sought and followed. Checks must not cause unnecessary stress or disturbance. Visual checks are acceptable.
A system of recording abnormalities must be maintained.
6.1 The licence holder must keep a list of each animal kept, or trained, for exhibition with all the information necessary to identify that animal individually (including its common and scientific names) and must provide the local authority with a copy of the list and any change to it as soon as practicable after the change.
7.1 A register must be kept of each animal exhibited or to be exhibited which must include:
(a) the full name of the supplier of the animal
(b) its date of birth
(c) the date of its arrival
(d) its name (if any), age, sex, neuter status, description and microchip or ring number (if applicable)
(e) the name and contact details of the animal’s normal veterinarian and details of any insurance relating to it
(f) details of the animal’s relevant medical and behavioural history including details of any treatment administered against parasites and any restrictions on exercise or diet
(g) a record of the date or dates of the animal’s most recent vaccination, worming and flea treatments, and(h) the distance to and times taken for it to travel to and from each exhibition event.
7.2 A record of when the animals are exhibited must be kept and an animal rotation policy must be put in place to ensure that the animals have enough rest between and during exhibition events. The log must include:
Date of exhibit
Time of exhibit
Duration of exhibit (arrival to departure time)
Type of exhibit
Animals used in exhibit
Location of exhibit
Distance/travel time to exhibit from licensed premises.
A record must be kept for each individual animal setting out:
how often they are used in an exhibit
how long they are used in an exhibit
what rest periods they have in the home environment
Veterinary (which we need to see evidence of during the inspection)
Condition Details of what to record
9.3 Appropriate isolation, in separate self-contained facilities, must be available for the care of sick, injured or potentially infectious animals. If the isolation facility is at another location, such as a local veterinary practice, the licence holder must be able to show evidence that this is ready to use (e.g. A letter/email from the practice).
9.8 The licence holder must register with a veterinarian with an appropriate level of experience in the health and welfare requirements of any animals specified in the licence and the contact details of that veterinarian must be readily available to all staff on the premises used for the licensable activity.

The Licensing Partnership will write to you at least three months before your licence expires, to remind you to renew it. You must apply for a renewal licence at least 10 weeks before the current licence expires, if you wish to continue to operate without a break in trading.

Fees and charges

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 - Exhibit or train any performing animal

  • registration (three years only) £981
  • complaint visit (recharged to licence holder) £298
  • minor variation (minor changes to licence not requiring a site visit) £222
  • major variation (more substantial changes to licence requiring a site visit £520
  • duplicate licence £35
  • general admin charge - for work on applications which cannot be resolved/made valid (to be deducted from any refund of application fee - where this exceeds the application fee then no refund shall be given) £54

Eligibility criteria

You need to be eligible to apply for a licence, you will find information on persons who may not apply in the regulation summary below.

Regulation summary

The regulation relating to animal activities requiring a licence.

Application evaluation process

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions will be attached.

The licence runs three years from the date of issue. There is no risk assessment applied to these activities.

Once we grant a licence, there are separate procedures for varying, suspending or revoking it as well as requesting a review of your star rating.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact the Licensing Partnership.

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