Animal licence star ratings

The star rating system was introduced under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. The rating is based upon whether the licence holder achieves the minimum or higher standards set out in the DEFRA guidance and an example of the risk matrix used by inspectors is below.

The following activities are included:

  • providing can and dog boarding or dog day care
  • arranging accommodation for other people's dogs
  • selling animals as pets (pet shops)
  • breeding dogs
  • hiring out horses
Risk level Minor failings Minimum standards Higher standards
Low risk

1 star - 1 year licence

3 star -2 year licence

5 star - 3 year licence

Higher risk

1 star -1 year licence

2 star -1 year licence

4 star -2 year licence

We will carry out at least one unannounced visit within the licence period.

Risk levels

New businesses who do not have any licensing history with us are automatically deemed higher risk and therefore have fewer stars on their licence but businesses with more than a year of history move into the lower risk category and gain more stars earned through compliance during their licence time.

A business which holds a licence with multiple activities listed on it will be scored according to the activity they score lowest on. For example, if a licence has three activities, two meeting higher standards and one meeting minimum standards, their licence will only ever be scored as a 2 star or 3-star licence unless all the activities meet higher standards.

The risk rating may vary during a business’s licensing history depending upon the history of compliance, whether complaints are received and justified and the length of time a licence is held.

A licence is earned through hard work and commitment and if a business is not worthy of a licence, it would not be granted.

The minimum licensing standards are much higher than any of the standards set in animal licensing previously and the higher standards require our licence holders to put a great deal of effort into attaining and retaining those standards.


If you do not agree with the star rating your premises has been given and you believe the inspector has made a mistake, you may appeal by following the procedure below.

The star rating given to you at your most recent inspection can be appealed but only if you feel the inspector has not conducted a fair assessment against the DEFRA licence conditions and an informal discussion has not resolved your concerns.

You may lodge an official appeal in writing to your appeal must state your case and justify specifically why the rating applied to your licence is incorrect.