Pet shop licences

About pet shop licences

Summary of requirements

Under the Pet Animals Act 1951 any person who runs a business selling pet animals will need a licence from the local authority in whose area the animal is to be sold. This includes all commercial selling of pet animals, including pet shops and businesses selling animals over the internet. Trade in pets is not permissible from any part of a street, or public place or at a stall or barrow in a market.

Note: Pet animals include any vertebrate animals - fish, amphibian, reptile, bird or mammal.

The licence expires on the 31 December in the year that the application is made or, if requested by the applicant, the licence may take effect from the start of the following year and expire at the end of that year. A licence holder must ensure that the licence is renewed by the 1 January annually if they wish to continue trading.

Wandsworth Council has authorised officers from the Corporation of London's veterinary service to carry out inspections on their behalf in respect of animal welfare matters.

The following offences and penalties apply to the keeping of pet shops:

Anybody found guilty of:

i) keeping an pet shop without a licence;

ii) failing to comply with the conditions of their licences;

iii) carrying on a business of selling animals as pets in a street, road, public place or at a stall or barrow in a market;

iv) selling an animal as a pet to a person under the age of twelve;

may be subject to a fine not exceeding £500 or to three months imprisonment or both.

Anybody found guilty of obstructing or delaying an Inspector, or authorised Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Practitioner in the exercising of their powers of entry may be fined up to a maximum of £500.

If found guilty under this Act, the defendant's licence may be cancelled and they may be disqualified from keeping a pet shop for such length of time the Court thinks fit.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants for a pet shop licence must not be disqualified from keeping a pet shop.

Visit the fees and charges page for full details of the fees for this licence.

Where an application for a licence is refused then the fee element covering the additional visit by the officer from the Corporation of London's veterinary service will be refunded, less the administrative charge for the refund process.

Application evaluation process

When considering an application for a pet shop licence, the local authority must have regard to the following:

  • that animals will be kept in suitable accommodation, for example in regards to temperature, size, lighting, ventilation and cleanliness
  • adequate food and drink will be provided to the animals and they will be visited at suitable intervals
  • that any mammalian animals will not be sold too young
  • that steps are taken to prevent disease spreading among the animals
  • that adequate fire and emergency provisions are in place

Conditions will be attached to a licence to ensure that the above are complied with (see the standard conditions).

Wandsworth Council will aim to determine the application within four weeks of receipt unless in the officer's opinion, the licence should not be granted (or renewed). In such a case the application will be considered by the Council's Regulatory Licensing Committee. This will take place within 10 weeks of receipt of the initial application, unless the time period is extended by agreement with the applicant.

What can I do if my application is refused?

Any person who is refused a licence can appeal to:

South Western Magistrates' Court
176a Lavender Hill
London SW11 1JU

What if I am unhappy with a condition imposed?

Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to the Magistrates' court (details above).

What to do if you have a query about your licence

If you have a query about a licence issued by us, contact the Licensing Team.

Consumer complaints about a pet shop

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked and you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other complaints

If you are concerned about other matters relating to a pet shop, such as concerns related to noise, smells or health and safety, you can report it online.

Trade associations and other sources of information

Pet Care Trust (PCT)

Health and safety

Before setting up any business in the UK, you must ensure that it will comply with the relevant health and safety regulations. 

Further information on health and safety.