How to get a licence to sell animals as pets, and the conditions you'll need to meet.
Applies to England
Contact your local council to apply for a licence to sell animals as pets in England.
You need to get a licence if your business sells animals:
- as pets
- which will later be resold as pets
You still need a licence if your business is based at home or you sell animals online.
You cannot sell animals as pets in public places, such as a market stall.
You cannot sell puppies or kittens if you have not bred them yourself.
You do not need a licence to sell a small number of offspring of pets that you’ve bred, for example as a hobby. However, if you do this often or with many animals you may be classed as a business and may need a licence.
The licence is valid for 1, 2 or 3 years. The council will decide the cost and length of your licence.
The council will carry out an inspection before you get a licence. They may carry out additional inspections at any time after it’s granted.
You must prove that you can meet the licence conditions. These include showing that the animals are:
- kept in suitable accommodation
- given adequate food and water
- visited and exercised regularly
- protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
- protected in case of an emergency, like a fire
- looked after by people who are trained to care for the animals
The council will also check that the animals are not too young. For example, you cannot sell:
- puppies, kittens, ferrets or rabbits less than 8 weeks old
- puppies or kittens that you have not bred yourself
You’ll also need to:
- keep any records ready for inspection, such as a register of animals for sale or details of any veterinary treatment
- display the licence number in any advertising
- display the licence clearly on the premises
- give prospective owners information on how to care for the animal
You will not get a licence if you’ve committed animal welfare offences or if you have been banned from:
- hiring out horses
- selling pets
- boarding cats or dogs
- breeding dogs
- keeping or training animals for exhibition
You may not get a licence if you’ve committed other offences. Check with your local council.
Fines and penalties
If your business sells pets without a licence you could go to prison for up to 6 months or be fined for an unlimited amount. You could also get an unlimited fine if you break the conditions of your licence.