England, Wales and Scotland have all introduced new animals activities licensing regimes over the past few years. This replaces the old, rather fragmented, pet shop licensing schemes that were operated by local authorities.

The new regimes are now mandatory and apply to any businesses which commercially trade in live animals. They now need a licence from their local authority issued under the regulations relevant to England, Wales or Scotland.

The only exception are Aquaculture Production Businesses (APBs) (in England and Wales) that are inspected and licensed by CEFAS (FHI).  APBs that are not inspected by CEFAS (FHI) will need a licence. English and Welsh consolidators which import fish but do not open boxes will be subject to the regulations but have their own requirements.

Guidance notes

Each regime sets out a Guidance note for selling animals as pets which outlines what businesses need to do to achieve their licence.

Read the English Guidance

Read the Welsh Guidance

Read the Scottish Guidance

Don’t forget OATA has free care sheets on a wide range of fish that you can download for customers that will help meet some of the conditions. Our specialist aquatics City & Guilds training programmes aimed at businesses which work in our industry, including pet shops, will also help to demonstrate requirements of the Animal Activities Licensing. Find out more in our Training section on this website.

Further advice

We have created some useful templates and advice for our Members that will help you to comply with the new licensing regime. You can find these in our Members’ Area and you will need your login details to access them. Contact our office if you are having trouble accessing these.

If you are having any issues with getting your licence then do give our office a ring and we may be able to help you resolve matters, particularly if your local council is trying to put extra conditions not outlined with the guidance document.

Primary Authority

If you are an English or Welsh OATA member you are automatically opted into our Primary Authority scheme with the City of London Corporation (unless you have actively opted out). We can use this scheme to help pet shops which are experiencing issues with getting their licence either for the first time or renewed by asking for what’s called ‘assured advice’ on particular issues, which local authorities should then follow. Find out more about our Primary Authority scheme here.