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Animal Boarding

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 ("the regulations") came into force on 1 October 2018 and covers the provision of accommodation for other people's cats or dogs in the course of a business.

Animal boarding licence

The legislation requires an animal welfare licence when providing or arranging for the provision of accommodation for other people's cats or dogs, in the course of a business (see business test below), on any premises where the provision of that accommodation is for providing:

  1. boarding for cats
  2. boarding in kennels for dogs
  3. home boarding for dogs, or
  4. day care for dogs.

Applying the 'business test'

A business is defined in the legislation as an operator who:

  1. makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
  2. earns any commission or fee from the activity

The Government announced in Budget 2016 an allowance of £1,000 for trading income from April 2017. Anyone falling under this threshold would not need to be considered on the context of determining whether they are a business.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) guidance states that these conditions are not the exclusive factors to be considered but are examples and other factors, such as those listed in the badges of trade set out by the HMRC. The guidance assists inspectors but ultimately there is an element of judgement in deciding upon the business test.

Please also read the considerations for the business test below. If you are not sure if you are classed as a business, please email Licensing@sholland.gov.uk with the details of your business and we can help determine this.

Licence requirements for animal boarding

The listed activities require a licence:

  • Businesses which provide accommodation for other people's cats and dogs, where the provision of that accommodation is part or solely the activity of the business
  • Businesses which arrange for the provision of accommodation for other people's cats and dogs, for example, businesses which connect pet owners with people willing to look after their animals for no fee (just minor expenses). The accommodation provided in these circumstances must meet the licence conditions, and it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that this is the case. The local authority needs to be satisfied that the conditions are met in all of the accommodation provided. The business must provide (and keep updated) a list of their associated premises. This applies regardless of whether the business is arranging for dog boarding in kennels, cat boarding, home boarding or dog day care
  • Businesses which provide overnight accommodation for cats in purpose built cattery units
  • Home boarding of cats, where the cats are kept in purpose built cattery units and not in the domestic home
  • Businesses which provide overnight accommodation for dogs in a home environment. This must be inside a domestic home which is not the usual home where the animals are kept, and not in external kennel accommodation (where external kennel accommodation is used, this would fall under the scope of providing boarding in kennels for dogs)
  • Businesses which provide daytime accommodation for dogs away from the dogs normal place of residence and do not keep them overnight.

The listed activities do not require a licence:

  • Businesses where accommodation is provided for other people's cats and dogs, but where the provision of that accommodation is not the purpose of that business, for example, veterinary practices where the accommodation provided is part of the treatment of the animal
  • Home boarding of cats within a domestic setting is not permitted
  • Businesses that look after the cat within its normal place of residence (such as cat sitters)
  • Businesses that provide day care for dogs and do not keep them overnight (these are under the scope of dog day care facilities)
  • Businesses that only provide day care for dogs and do not keep them overnight (these are under the scope of providing day care for dogs)
  • Businesses that look after the dog within its normal place of residence (such as dog sitters)
  • Businesses that look after the dog within its normal place of residence (such as dog sitters, dog walkers).

Apply for an animal boarding licence

To apply, please complete and return the Icon for pdf animal boarding licence application form [294.43KB]. The fee for this application can be found on our Animal Welfare fees page. Please also refer to the legislation and relevant guidance when you make your application.

You must pay the application fee associated with the type of licence you are applying for first. The compliance fees are paid after the inspection is completed and the length of the licence is determined. Please contact us on licensingteam@sholland.gov.uk if you have any questions.

The following checklists can help you comply with the conditions and support you when completing an application:

Check an animal boarding licence and rating

When choosing an animal boarder ensure you choose a licensed premises. All animal welfare licence holders must clearly display their licence on their premises and display their name and licence number on any website they use. 

The licence also contains a star rating which the business has achieved. We recommend display of the star rating on any website used, but this is not a legal requirement.

If a licence number is not displayed you can check for a licence by checking the register on our animal welfare page or by sending the name and address of the boarding establishment to licensing@sholland.gov.uk.

Raise an animal boarding concern

The relevant body may not always be the council when reporting concerns. If you have any concerns about premises in South Holland District Council, please email licensing@sholland.gov.uk with details of the premises or if urgent call 01775 761161.  Clearly state your concerns and your reason for them. All matters of concern will be investigated and complaints are kept confidential.