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Pet shops

Animal Licensing Toolkit

Do I need to gain a licence from North Devon Council?

A person who wishes to carry on the business of selling animals (or keeping animals with the intention of selling them), as pets at any premises, including a private dwelling, in North Devon must obtain a licence from North Devon Council, issued under The Pet Animals Act 1951.

Animals may not be sold as pets in any part of a street or public place, or at a stall or barrow in a market.


A person shall not be deemed to keep a pet shop if they only keep or sell pedigree animals which are bred by him, or are the offspring of an animal kept as a pet.

Please contact an officer at North Devon Council if you are in the business of breeding pedigree animals and in conjunction with the business, sell animals as pets, that were originally acquired with a view to being used, if suitable, for breeding or show purposes, but have been subsequently found not to be suitable. In these circumstances you may be entitled for an exemption from gaining a licence from the Council.


‘Animal' - includes any description of vertebrate.

'Pedigree Animal' - means an animal of any description which is by its breeding eligible for registration with a recognised club or society keeping a register of animals of that description.

The applicant

Applicants must not have been previously disqualified from keeping a pet shop under any of the following Acts:

  • The Pet Animals Act 1951;
  • The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963;
  • The Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954;
  • The Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) (Scotland) Act 1934.

The application process

To apply for a Pet Shop licence, applicants must complete and submit an application form accompanied by the appropriate fee.

When determining the application for a licence, North Devon Council will take into consideration whether:

  • animals have access to suitable accommodation at all times, with regard to the size, temperature, lighting, ventilation, and cleanliness;
  • animals will be suitably fed, watered and visited at suitable intervals;
  • all reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread among animals of infectious diseases;
  • appropriate steps will be taken to protect the animals in the event of a fire or other emergency;
  • animals (being mammals) will not be sold at too early an age.

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.

Note: You will need to consider arrangements for the disposal of waste.

How long does the licence last?

A licence shall according to the applicants requirements relate to the year in which it is granted or to the next following year. A licence year operates from 1st January to the 31st December, however you can apply at any time during that period.

Licence holders will receive a written reminder from North Devon Council prior to the expiry of their licence. Licences must be renewed prior to their expiry if the premises are to continue as a pet shop.

What conditions will be attached to a licence?

When gaining a licence you will need to follow a set of conditions that relate to record keeping, permitted number of animals, stocking densities, disease prevention, accommodation etc.

These conditions are based on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Model Conditions for Pet Vending July 2013 (pdf 404 kB) PDF logo formulated in conjunction with a number of organisations such as the British Veterinary Association, REPTA and OATA.

Please be aware that the Council also impose additional conditions for individual premises where appropriate.

Records required to be kept

A livestock purchase and sales register must be maintained in accordance with the above conditions.

The register should be available for inspection by an authorised officer of North Devon Council or an authorised veterinary surgeon/practitioner.

Offences and penalties

The following offences and penalties apply to pet shops:

  • anybody found guilty of keeping a pet shop 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 licence may be subject to a fine not exceeding level 2 (£500) or to three months imprisonment or both;
  • anybody found guilty of carrying on a business of selling animals as pets in any part of a street or public place, or at a stall or barrow in a market, shall be guilty of an offence, subject to a fine not exceeding level 2 (£500) or to three months imprisonment or both;
  • anybody found guilty of selling an animal as a pet to a person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be under the age of twelve years, shall be guilty of an offence 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).

Where a person is convicted of any offence under the Pet Animals Act 1951 or any offence under any of sections 4,5,6(1),(2),7 to 9, and 11 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 the court by which he is convicted may cancel any licence held by him under the Pets Animals Act 1951, and may, whether or not he is the holder of such a licence, disqualify him from keeping a pet shop for such period as the court thinks fit.

Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 and Sale of Dogs (Identifications Tag) Regulations 1999

It will be important that pet shop keepers note that keepers of licensed breeding establishments must by law provide on sale to a pet shop, a dog which wears a collar with an identifying tag or badge.

The keeper of a licensed pet shop becomes guilty of an offence if he sells on a dog which, when delivered to him, was wearing a collar with an identifying tag or badge but it is not wearing such a collar when delivered to the person to whom he sells it.

An identifying tag or badge, in relation to a dog, means a tag or badge which clearly displays information indicating the licensed breeding establishment at which it was born, the date of birth of the dog, and an identifying number, if any, allocated to the dog by the licensed breeding establishment at which it was born.

Rights of entry

Authorised officers of the council and/or authorised veterinary surgeons/practitioners may enter and inspect a pet shop 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

Please complete and submit a Pet Shop Licence Application Form.

G/PS1 - Pet Shop:

Tell us about a change to your existing pet shop - contact us in the first instance.


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 any associated veterinary fees.


The pet shops register contains the details of those premises licensed with North Devon Council.

Contact details

Application  forms should be sent to The Licensing Team, Environmental Health and Housing , North Devon Council, Civic Centre, North Walk, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1EA or can be handed in at the Civic Centre Customer Service Centre or one of our area offices in Ilfracombe and South Molton.

In case of query, please telephone the Customer Service Centre on 01271 388870 and ask for the Licensing Team.


See also further contact details towards the bottom of this page.

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.


If you want to make a complaint about any pet shop, please contact us.

If you feel we have failed to provide you with good service or are concerned about the progress of your application, please telephone the Customer Service Centre. The Licensing Team will endeavour to resolve any concerns you may have.

The Council also has a formal complaints procedure.

Further information

Copies of the Pet Animals Act 1951 can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

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

Trade associations

PCT - Pet Care Trust

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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