Keeping or training animals for exhibition licence

Keeping or training animals for exhibition licence

How to apply for a licence to keep or train animals for exhibition

Licence summary 

You'll need a licence if you keep or train animals for exhibition. This can be for entertainment or educational purposes, to an audience or via electronic media. 

The licence includes animals used in:

  • theatre
  • films or TV
  • a circus if they're domestic, such as cats and dogs
  • mobile animal exhibits that visit schools
  • weddings or private parties
  • fairs
  • pony parties where the ponies are not ridden
  • other events where an audience is present

A local authority may authorise an officer, veterinary surgeon or practitioner to inspect licensed premises.

Keeping or training animals for exhibition licence guidance (pdf, 616KB) (opens new window)

If you're based outside England

If you're based outside of England and you want to bring in an animal for exhibition, you'll also need a licence.

You should get a licence from Bristol City Council if the animals will be:

  • performing in Bristol 
  • in Bristol for most of their stay

If the animals aren't performing or staying in Bristol you'll need to get a licence from the local authority where they'll be.

Regulation summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

Eligibility criteria

An applicant must not be disqualified from any of the following at the time of the application:

  1. a person listed as a disqualified person in paragraph 4 or any of paragraphs 6 to 17 of Schedule 8 (see legislation above) where the time limit for any appeal has expired or where the appeal was refused
  2. any person listed in any of paragraphs 1 to 3 and 5 of Schedule 8 (see legislation above) as having held a licence which was revoked where the time limit for any appeal against that revocation has expired or the appeal was refused.

Apply for a licence

Applications can only be made by individuals.

The application form is a PDF that you'll need to save before you can edit.

Apply for a licence for the exhibition or training of performing animals (GOV.UK)

We'll respond to you within 5 working days to talk to you about your proposal and the fees.

  • The application fee is £75.
  • The  licence fee is £180 plus veterinary fees

For more information, email

Star rating

Licences will be granted for either 1, 2 or 3 years depending on the star rating awarded after inspection.

We'll carry out a risk rating based on:

  • if you've kept or trained animals for exhibition before 
  • your knowledge of the animals in your care
  • if you meet the criteria set out in the legislation
  • your ability to demonstrate your practices and staff training

The inspector will look at the animals and their environment and refer to the licence guidance. The overall score will determine the star rating and the length of licence.


Low risk

  • Minor failings: 1 star (1 year licence)
  • Minimum standards: 3 star (2 year licence)
  • Higher standards: 5 star (3 year licence)

Higher risk

  • Minor failings: 1 star (1 year licence)
  • Minimum standards: 2 star (1 year licence)
  • Higher standards: 4 star (2 year licence)

If you don't agree with your star rating

You can submit a written appeal within 21 days of the rating being issued to the licensing authority and request a re-inspection.

You'll have to pay for any re-inspection. Businesses disputing their star rating are encouraged to discuss this informally with the inspecting officer first so that there is an opportunity to help explain to the business how the rating was worked out.

Premises with lower star ratings

Premises with a lower star rating aren't necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. 

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you , preferably by letter (with proof of delivery).

If that's not worked: