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Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Prior to submitting an animal licence application, you must ensure you contact our Planning Department to obtain the relevant planning permissions for your business.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 ("the regulations") came into force on 1 October 2018 and covers keeping or training animals for exhibition.

The following list of activities requires a licence:

  • businesses which keep animals for exhibition, either for entertainment or educational purposes. This includes mobile animal exhibits that visit schools, weddings, private parties, fairs and other events where an audience is present
  • pony parties where the ponies are not ridden
  • businesses which keep animals for exhibition via electronic media, for example, animals used in films or TV
  • businesses which train animals for exhibition, either to an audience or via electronic media
  • exhibiting domestic animals in a circus
  • any business based outside of England that brings in an animal for exhibition. These businesses must apply to the first authority in which they will be performing or where the animals are to be kept for the duration of their stay.

The following activities do not require a licence:

  • keeping or training animals solely for military, police or sporting purposes
  • any activity permitted under a licence to operate a travelling circus under the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012(2), or
  • any activity permitted on site under a licence for a zoo under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981(3)."

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

The legislation defines it as keeping or training animals for exhibition in the course of a business for educational or entertainment purposes to any audience attending in person, or by the recording of visual images of them by any form of technology that enables the display of such images.

To determine if you are a business, you will need to consider the 'business test'.

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) 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 (opens new window) are also relevant. 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 a business, please email with the details of your business and we can help determine this.

    Apply for an animal exhibition licence

    Please email us if you have any questions with the application form:

    The fee for this application can be found on our animal welfare fees web page.

    To help with your application, you may find the following useful: 

    Check an animal exhibition licence

    When choosing an establishment, ensure you choose a licensed establishment. From 1 October 2018, all new animal welfare licence holders must:

    • clearly display their licence on their premises, and
    • display their name and licence number on any website they use.

    Licences also contain a star rating which the business has achieved. We recommend display of the star rating on any website but this is not a legal requirement.

    Raise an animal exhibition concern

    If you have any concerns about premises in South Holland District Council, please email 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.