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Selling animals as pets

If you sell animals as pets, you may need an animal activity licence. In order to obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for selling animals as pets.

Due to COVID-19, we have reviewed our processes to ensure we can comply with our legal responsibilities to safely inspect premises and be able to determine applications. We will now be doing this in a two-stage process, which will initially involve a remote assessment, followed by a site inspection.

It is hoped that by completing most of the assessment remotely via phone, the time spent on site to carry out the physical inspection will be considerably less. 

  1. Remote assessments - these will usually take place within four weeks of an application (subject to receipt of all relevant documentation).
  2. Site inspection - these will usually take place within eight weeks of an application. 

Do I need a licence?

You will need a licence if you are:

  • A business importing, distributing and selling animals
  • A business registered with Companies House
  • An individual or business operating from domestic premises for commercial purposes (it should be noted that many may not be listed with Companies House)
  • Premises open to members of the public or to other businesses where animals are available for purchase (pet shop)

When do I not need a licence?

You will not need a licence if you:

  • Breed animals as a hobby, for pleasure, exhibition for prize, or for education, study or scientific advancement and infrequently sell a small number of surplus offspring/excess stock. For low-value species that may produce large numbers of excess stock, consideration should be given to the value of the stock and the likelihood that the seller is making a profit.
  • Attend organised events where people meet to sell surplus animals they have bred, or animals that are surplus to their requirements, whether or not this is open to the public. Selling pet animals as a business from a market or stall is prohibited under Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951.
  • Are an aquacultural production business authorised under regulation 5(1) of the Aquatic Animal Health (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, and are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate.

Anyone carrying out this activity without the relevant licence could be prosecuted and face imprisonment of up to six months, receive a fine or both.

How do I apply?

To sell animals as pets you will require an animal activities licence. You can read the government guidelines on conditions for selling animals as pets.

If you wish to apply for a 'Selling Animals as Pets' licence, you can download the application form, and sections that apply to the type of animal you are selling, below and either email it to environmentalhealth@sthelens.gov.uk or post it to St Helens Borough Council, Regulatory Services, PO Box 512, St Helens, WA10 6JX.

The fee for a dog day care licence is £274 (+ vets fees if necessary).