A licence is needed to keep a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951. This includes any business which sells animals as pets or keeps pets with a view to their sale. Private dwellings must be licensed if animals are being kept or sold there in the course of a business.
Breeding and selling registered pedigree animals, or the occasional sale of the offspring of a family pet, does not require a licence.
We will only issue licences for permanent, fixed premises. It is illegal for pet animals to be sold in streets, public places or from market stalls.
Applying for a licence
To apply for a pet shop licence, please complete and submit the application form below.
On receipt of an application for a licence, we will arrange for the premises to be inspected. For first applications, this will generally be by an independent vet (please note that the cost of this inspection will be recharged to the applicant, in addition to the application fee). The inspection will look at whether the premises are suitable for use as a pet shop, and the condition and suitability of the accommodation. We will also interview the applicant to ensure that they and their staff, if applicable, have the specialist knowledge, experience and qualifications required to run a pet shop.
When we consider the application, we will take the following matters into account:
- The suitability, qualifications and experience of the applicant and their employees
- The report produced by the vet following the inspection, and any recommendations made
- The need to secure:
- that animals will be kept at all times in suitable accommodation (in terms of size, temperature, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness)
- a supply of suitable food and drink, and regular visits where appropriate
- that mammals will not be sold at too early an age
- that all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious or contagious diseases
- that appropriate steps will be taken in case of fire or other emergency.
Pet shop licence - application form (PDF 360KB)
Apply online for a pet shop licence
Apply online to renew a pet shop licence
Standard conditions for pet shops (PDF 635KB)
Details of current application fees can be found on our Licensing fees and charges page.
Can I start trading before my application is determined?
No. It is in the public interest that we fully consider your application before you start to operate. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us, using the contact details below.
Maintaining a licence
Licences will usually be granted until the end of the current calendar year. If the applicant requests it, we will issue the licence for the whole of the following calendar year (although this will mean that no licence will be in force for the remainder of the current year).
Renewal applications can be made prior to the expiry of the licence. A further inspection of the premises will be carried out on each renewal application. Renewed licences will be issued for the whole of the calendar year.
Licences are issued subject to standard conditions, plus any further specific conditions listed on the licence.
Council officers and our vet may carry out periodic inspections of licensed pet shops to ensure that standards are being maintained and that the licence conditions are being adhered to.
Pet shops must not sell pets to any person under the age of 12, although we strongly suggest that no pets are sold to any children unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult.
If a licence-holder is convicted of an animal welfare offence, the court may decide to cancel the licence as part of the sentence. Courts may also disqualify any person from keeping a pet shop in the future.
Right of appeal
If your application is refused, you may appeal against the decision. Licence-holders may also appeal against a decision to attach a particular condition to their licence. In all cases, appeals must be lodged in a magistrates' court.
Licensed pet shops
The following pet shops are currently licensed by us:
The following pet shops are licensed to sell fish only:
- Deep Blue Aquatics, Hillier Garden Centre, Leighton Buzzard Road, Hemel Hempstead
- Woods of Berkhamsted, The Old Ironworks, High Street, Berkhamsted
If you have a complaint about a pet shop, you should talk to the owner in the first instance to see if the issue can be resolved directly. If this does not work, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist further and advise you on your rights.
We will investigate complaints about unlicensed pet shops, or shops operating in breach of their licences. Please contact us using the details below with your concerns.
For more information on pet shop licences, please phone us on 01442 228470, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.