Zoo Licence

A Zoo licence from the Council is needed if wild animals are exhibited to the general public on more than seven days in any 12 consecutive months.

Who needs a licence?

You need a licence if you display wilds animals to the public, as defined by Section 21 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, for more than seven days in any 12 consecutive months.

Those operating under the authority of a pet shop licence or as part of a circus do not need to be licenced.


All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • specialist knowledge in the species that they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare (including the animals' mental and physical health, feeding and knowledge of environmental enrichment)
  • comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities
  • an understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly
  • training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them and clear evidence of good supervision of staff
  • The premises itself will also be assessed against the national standards relating to the physical environment in which the animals will be kept.

If you have questions about applying for a licence or about an existing licence, please get in contact with our Environmental Health team using our contact form.

How to apply

We aim to process all applications within 90 days, therefore:

  • existing licence holders will need to apply to renew their licences at least 90 days before the expiry date of their existing licence in order to ensure continuity of cover
  • new applicants will need to apply for a licence at least 90 days before they plan to operate their business

In order for an application to be considered complete, a valid application form and fee must have been received.

Please note: if you are applying for a licence for the first time, you will be refused a licence if you cannot meet the required minimum prescribed standards. You are therefore strongly advised to check the published guidance and audit yourself against this before making an application.

You can apply for a licence to operate a zoo online.

The application costs are listed below but do not include additional vets charges.

  • New zoo licence - £2,521.00
  • Interim Inspection - £2,291.00
  • Renewal Inspection - £2,322.00
  • Transfer of licence - £959.00

This fee is not refundable if we have already carried out our inspection of your business.

Tacit approval will not apply to this type of licence because it is in the public interest that East Herts Council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from East Herts Council within a reasonable period, please contact us on 01279 655261 to discuss your application.

Public register

Details of all licenced animal boarding activities are available on our online Public Register. You can find information on how to use the online Public Register on the Public Registers page.

Appeals and complaints

If you are refused a licence, you should discuss this with the inspecting officer who will explain why you have not been successful and what works are needed in order to enable the Council to issue a licence.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received you should use our complaint form where it will be directed to an appropriate manager depending on the nature of your complaint.

Consumer complaints

Depending on the nature of the complaint, we would always advise that in the first instance 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 should email environmental.health@eastherts.gov.uk with the details of your concerns.