The Animals Activities Licensing regime for Scotland came into force in September 2021. From that date any business in Scotland commercially trading live animals needs a licence from their local authority issued under the new regulations.

You need to familiarise yourself with what to expect because it is more complicated than the previous pet shop inspection and licensing regime. It is likely that for the first year you will need to produce a number of written procedures and possibly use written recording sheets if you do not already do this. We have produced advice below to help you do this.

The guidance that relates to selling animals as pets is the one for pet shops to concentrate on. This outlines what your business must demonstrate during an inspection.

Read the Guidance notes for conditions for selling animals as pets.

Your local authority may have a new form to fill in for your inspection. Always ask your local authority for its form.

Useful documents

To help you get ready for your next inspection there are a number of templates and advice documents below for you to download and tailor to suit your business. All these should be read in line with the Guidance document.

Training policy (Annex A4) (WORD Document)

Annual staff appraisal training record template (Annex A 4)

Advice on writing an emergency plan (Annex A 9 & 10)

Advice on writing simple procedures (Annex A 9) (WORD Document)

Record of fish sales (Annex B 2) (WORD Document)

OATA documents you can follow to demonstrate you are meeting the relevant requirement and which could form part of your written procedures:

Requirements on venomous animals (Annex B 4)

Euthanasia of ornamental fish (Annex A 1)

Transport Code (Annex B 7) (includes information on packing fish for customers)


Disposal of dead pet animals

Other useful documents

The Scottish AAL guidance does not put any requirements on businesses to show records for water quality checks but this is a vital part of the fishes’ environment so demonstrating how you monitor this is a good idea. Below are two record sheets that we created for other parts of the UK for their licensing regime inspections which you therefore might find useful if you don’t have a formal way of demonstrating how you monitor the five welfare needs etc.

Weekly record sheet for welfare checks (WORD Document)

Weekly water quality record sheet

Register of animals (Annex B 2)

The guidance also requires businesses to have a ‘register’ of the animals it has bought and sold. We would suggest you use invoices and proof of sales receipts that allow an accurate representation of acquisitions and sales that an inspector can look at in the shop. For aquatic businesses this can be groups of fish eg tropical freshwater, cold water, tropical marine. You need to make sure you can show who supplies your fish, the numbers & groups they have supplied and till receipts or another form of record for numbers and group sold. The point of this is for your business to be able to demonstrate the numbers and groups of fish coming into and going out of your business.

Your invoices should make collating information about the fish coming into your business very easy. But recording the sale of fish may be more problematic unless your EPOS system already records or can easily be changed to groups of fish and you start to key in numbers of that group of fish (eg 10 tropical freshwater). It is not enough for it to simply record ‘fish’, it would need to say tropical freshwater, coldwater, tropical marine and the number sold.

That means for many businesses you will need to separately record sales of fish. We have created a simple record that staff will need to record the number and group of fish eg 10 tropical freshwater fish. You do not need to record the species of fish eg guppy unless you consider this information will be useful for you for other reasons within your business.

Both invoices and sales records (either the sheets we have provided or print outs from your EPOS system) must be available within the shop (either electronically or in paper form) for an inspector to look at during inspection and you need to keep this paperwork for three years.

After care information (Annex B 3)

The guidance outlines that after care information must be provided to customers. Find a full range of FREE care sheets on a wide range of fish and aquatic animals here that you can download and use for free.

Staff training (Annex A 4)

The guidance outlines that the licence holder and staff should hold a relevant qualification and be suitably experienced to advice owners about the animals being sold. You can find more about our specialist aquatic training courses here which are suitable for both new staff and those wanting to increase their knowledge. As a member you will benefit from a reduced price.

The guidance also says you need to have a training policy in place, and carry out annual appraisals with your staff that identify training needs and gaps in knowledge. We have created a simple training policy for you to use along with an annual appraisal document to help you capture what you need to (see Useful Documents section above).

Need help?

If you are experiencing issues with this new licensing regime please get in touch with the OATA office and we will do our best to help. Unfortunately in Scotland there is not a Primary Authority system as there is in England and Wales which means we do not have the back up relationship with a local authority to get advice but we can definitely use our experience in explaining what the guidance sets down as the requirements you need to follow. Ring our office on 01373 301353 or email