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Animal boarding establishments

Animal Licensing Toolkit

Do I need a licence?

If you wish to providing boarding accommodation for other people’s dogs and cats in North Devon, then you must obtain a licence from North Devon Council issued under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 external website.

This includes premises that are private dwellings. However, you do not need a licence if the provision of boarding accommodation is in relation to another main activity or if the animals are kept because of the requirements of the Animal Health Act 1981 external website.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) consider that due to the free nature of cats they are not recommended for home boarding and that this practice should be discouraged. DEFRA says it will consider outlawing home boarding for cats.

The applicant

Anyone can apply unless disqualified:
  • from keeping a boarding establishment under Animal Boarding Act 1963
  • from keeping a pet shop under the Pet Animals Act 1951
  • from having the custody of animals under the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954
  • under section 34(2), (3) or (4) of Animal Welfare Act 2006

The application process

To apply for an Animal Boarding Establishments licence, applicants must complete and submit an application form.

When determining the application for an Animal Boarding Establishment licence, North Devon Council will take into consideration:
  • whether the animals have access to suitable accommodation at all times, with regard to the construction and size of the quarters, number of animals kept, ventilation, cleanliness, exercising facilities, temperature and lighting
  • whether the animals will be suitably fed, watered, exercised, visited and supplied with adequate bedding material
  • whether the appropriate steps are in place to prevent and control the spread of infectious/contagious diseases, including isolation facilities
  • whether appropriate steps will be taken to protect the animals in the event of a fire or other emergency

A Licensing Officer from the council will visit the premises to ensure that it complies with the above. In certain circumstances a veterinary inspection may also be undertaken.

You will need to contact the council's Planning service on 01271 388288 before you start building and you will also need to consider arrangements for the disposal of waste.

How long does the licence last?

A licence is valid for one year, and operates from 1 January to 31 December, however you can apply at any time during that period. An applicant can also apply for a licence to commence the beginning of the following year.

On successful completion of an application, the applicant will be granted an Animal Boarding Establishments Licence, which will expire on the 31 December.

Licence holders will receive a written reminder from North Devon Council prior to the expiry of their licence.

In the event of the death of a person who is keeping a boarding establishment, the licence shall be deemed to have been granted to his personal representatives and shall remain in force until the end of the period of three months beginning with the death and shall then expire.

North Devon Council may extend this period on application if satisfied that the extension is necessary for the purpose of winding up the deceased’s estate and that no other circumstances make it undesirable.

What conditions will be attached to a licence?

North Devon Council has chosen to adopt the model licence conditions compiled by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):

Local Government Regulation (LGR) has also provided tailored conditions for those premises operating as ‘home boarders.’ North Devon Council may choose to utilise these conditions where they are considered more appropriate:

Records required to be kept

Licence holders must keep a register containing a description of all the animals boarding at the premises, the arrival and departure dates and the names and addresses of the owners. The register must be available for inspection by an officer of the local authority or veterinary surgeon/practitioner, authorised under section 2(1) of the act.

Offences and penalties

The following offences and penalties apply to the keeping of animal boarding establishment:
  • anybody found guilty of keeping an animal boarding establishment without a licence may be subject to a fine not exceeding level 2 (£500) or to three months imprisonment or both
  • anybody found guilty of failing to comply with the conditions of their licences may be subject to a fine not exceeding level 2 (£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 subject to a fine not exceeding level 2 ( £500)

If found guilty under the Animal Boarding Establishments 1963, the Protection of Animals Act 1911, Pet Animals Act 19561, or any offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, sections 4,5,6(1) and (2), 7 to 9 and 11 the defendant's licence may be cancelled and they may be disqualified from keeping an animal boarding establishment for such length of time as the Court thinks fit.

Rights of entry

Authorised officers of the Council and/or authorised veterinary surgeons/practitioners may enter and inspect a boarding premises at any reasonable time.

How long will it take to process my application?

If we have not contacted you to make arrangements to complete an inspection within 14 days of your application, please contact us to check that your application was correctly made and received.

The Council will endeavour to issue a Licence within a period of 30 working days, however if we have been unable to determine your application in this time a licence will not be automatically granted due to animal welfare implications.

How to apply

G/ABO1 - Animal Boarding
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EUGO Portal external website


A completed application must be submitted with a fee of £69.70. If a veterinary inspection is deemed necessary the applicant will also be required to pay in addition the associated veterinary fees.


The animal boarding register external website contains details of those premises licensed with North Devon Council.

Right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any conditions to which a licence is subject may appeal to the Magistrates Courts who may give such directions regarding the licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.


We hope the services you receive from us are the quality you expect, or better.

We do understand there are times when you feel unhappy with our services or you may want to make a compliment or a suggestion about how we can improve.

You can give us your feedback in different ways.

If you want to make a complaint about someone who boards cats or dogs, please contact us.

Further information

In addition to the online version, you can buy a copy of the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 from the Office of Public Sector Information external website.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006, places responsibilities for care and welfare of an animal, on persons who are in charge of or are responsible for the animal, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. More information can be found on the DEFRA website external website.

You can also get further information from these trade associations:

Contact information

To contact the Customer Service Centre:

Telephone: 01271 388870
For Typetalk: precede with 18001
Text: 07624 804042
Fax: 01271 388451
Web form: send us a web enquiry
Join the conversation on Twitterexternal website
Compliment, complaint or suggestion? Your feedback

Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Licence applications, notices etc should be sent to:

The Licensing Team
Environmental Health and Housing
North Devon Council
Civic Centre
North Walk
EX31 1EA

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