Selling animals as pets licence (England)

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.

Published 4 November 2020
Last updated 2 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on selling puppies and kittens and clarified when you do not need a licence.

  2. First published.