In England any business that sells animals commercially needs an animal activities licence. Businesses must follow the Guidance notes for conditions for selling animals as pets.

In Wales and Scotland shops require a pet shop licence. Our advice is that shops concentrate on fulfilling the conditions in the Model Conditions for Pet Vending guidance from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Help with the paperwork

We have pulled together a number of useful documents for English OATA members in our Members’ area of our website to help businesses prepare for licensing – such as putting together a training policy, staff appraisals, ideas for capturing all the data you need to record and contingency planning. You can find these here once you log into the website. If you need help with logging in then do contact our office.

Log into our Members’ Area here.

Staff training

All licensing requirements in the UK though include some mention of staff training and educating customers on the care of their new pets.

OATA has two aquatics specific training programmes which are accredited by City & Guilds. Our foundation programme is perfect for new staff or those just beginning their career. Our Advanced programme is good for those with more experience.

The English Animal Activities licensing regime says that you must be able to demonstrate competence in the care of the animals you sell – either through OFQUAL qualifications or relevant industry recognised training (like ours) or an in store training programme or by demonstrating your own experience (which might be through length of service for example).

We have Primary Authority Assured Advice about what is meant by this which you can read here to show that being able to demonstrate one of those is sufficient. So your inspector cannot just fix on the OFQUAL qualification because there is not one for fish. If you are an OATA retail member then you can show this Assured Advice to your local authority if you get queries about how you demonstrate your expertise in the species you sell.

Find out more about our training programmes here and don’t forget OATA business members get a discount.

Free care information

Another requirement we can help with is that of making available good quality care information. This is vital because people who are properly prepared to look after their new pet means happy owners and healthy pets!

The English AAL guidance states: “Pet care leaflets or other similar written or electronic information must be made available to customers free of charge at the time of purchase, in addition to any offer to purchase pet care books or leaflets.”

We have a full range of single sheet care leaflets that are easy and free to download from our website. You can keep a stock in the shop or you can download when you need one or direct people to them.

Find them here.

Primary Authority scheme

OATA members in England and Wales are all enrolled in our Primary Authority scheme for pet shop inspections. For Welsh businesses this means you will be inspected against the PA’s inspection plan, which is based on the CIEH’s model licensing conditions. Both English and Welsh OATA members can rely on any Primary Authority advice we have received from our local authority partner the City of London Corporation. And it means if you have issues with getting your licence you can ring us for advice and help.

Find out more about the Primary Authority scheme in our Members’ area of our website where you will also find all the Assured Advice we have.