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

The only exception is Aquaculture Production Businesses (APBs) that are inspected and licensed by CEFAS (FHI).  APBs that are not inspected by CEFAS (FHI) need a local authority licence. Consolidators which import fish but do not open boxes will be subject to the regulations but have their own requirements.

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 start using weekly written recording sheets if you do not already do this. We have produced advice below to help you do this.

Read the Guidance

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.

The parts most relevant to our sector are:

  • Part A – General Conditions
  • Part B – Specific Conditions: Selling animals as pets
  • Part K – Reptiles and Amphibians (if you sell these)
  • Part L – Fish
  • Guidance for inspectors on businesses consolidating imports of fish (if you are a consolidator) – in Part L at the end
  • Higher Standards (if you wish to pursue these)

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

The guidance asks for a lot more paperwork from businesses. 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.

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

Register of animals (B 2)

The guidance also requires businesses to have a ‘register’ of the animals it has bought and sold. It says this can be demonstrated by 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. So 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.

After care information (B 3.2)

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 (A 4.1, A 4.2, A 4.3)

The guidance outlines that the licence holder and staff must been suitably trained to advice owners about the animals being sold with an industry-recognised qualification and/or can demonstrate suitable experience/training. 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 gaps in knowledge, training needs and how they keep up their knowledge throughout the year. 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).

You can also use this assured advice under our Primary Authority Scheme for Wales if you get issues about how you show ‘competency’ for staff.

Higher standards

It is possible to get a higher star rating if you meet higher standards which are outlined in the Guidance document. Unlike in England this does not affect the term of your licence. The guidance states: “In order to receive a licence, a business will need to meet all of the minimum standards outlined in this document. In addition, businesses are encouraged to apply higher standards. A business that meets the higher standards will be able to gain a 4 or 5 star rating in the Animals Activity Star Rating System which will act as an incentive to display at their premises and inform customers that they are providing a higher standard of welfare.”

We have written our templates to enable businesses to meet the minimum standards but if you are interested in demonstrating higher standards then you will need to familiarise yourself with what’s involved and amend your paperwork so that you can record what is required.

You can use this assured advice under our Primary Authority for Wales if your inspector raises queries about meeting higher standards.

Additional conditions

Your inspector cannot add on any additional conditions to those stated in the guidance. If you are faced with an inspector who wants to put extra conditions on your licence which are not reflected in the Guidance notes then contact our office and we will try to help. You can also use this piece of Assured Advice from our Primary Authority Scheme for Wales which inspectors should take notice of. Additional conditions – some of which used to be fairly onerous or excessive – were an occasional feature of pet shop licensing before this new regime. But this new regulation should bring an end to these kinds of arbitary conditions. You should only be expected to meet the minimum conditions of the guidance – and it’s up to you if you want to work for the higher standard conditions.

All Primary Authority assured advice

As an OATA member you are part of the Primary Authority scheme (unless you have opted out) which means if you get queries from your licencing inspector you can show them these pieces of assured advice and they should meet them. Do ring the OATA office if you think your licensing officer is expecting more than the guidance and we will try to help as well. In particular, there is assured advice that says licensing officers cannot add more conditions than outlined in the guidance.

Additional conditions

Higher Standards

Enrichment in tanks

Competency requirements