Animal Welfare Establishments
Operating an Animal Welfare Establishment (AWE)
An AWE is defined as places where relevant animals have been abandoned or otherwise separated from their keeper (including relinquishment or a seizure), or sick, injured or captured relevant animals that were previously living in a wild state.
Who requires a licence?
Any persons or organisations operating animal welfare establishments (AWE) (such as animal sanctuaries or animal rehoming centres) where 8 animals (excluding fish) or 5 dogs or 5 equines are kept at the same time by the operator of the AWE must be licensed. The 8-animal threshold excludes any animal under 4 months old if it was born within the AWE or arrived at the AWE with its mother.
Persons do not meet the criteria for licensing as an AWE if the animals are:
- Kept as pets.
- Kept at premises used for the care or treatment of animals by a person who is a veterinary surgeon.
- Kept by or are in the care of a local authority.
- Kept as part of farming or for use in the course of a business.
- Kept temporarily by persons licensed under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963.
- Kept solely for military, police or sporting purposes.
- Kept for exhibition for the purposes of education or entertainment.
- Dogs kept to be trained as assistance dogs.
The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021, regulation 3 and Schedule 1, Part 3 of the regulations.
General conditions for animal activities licences:
Specific conditions for this licence:
The Scottish Government has issued guidance notes for Animal Welfare Establishments: The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 - Guidance for Animal Welfare Establishments
How to apply
- complete an
- return it via email or to the address given in the contact box below; and
- pay the 'Pay for it' online at
An officer will then be in touch to discuss your application and arrange an inspection.
A veterinary surgeon will also be appointed by us to assist officers undertaking inspections in relation to licence applications. You will be invoiced separately after the inspection to recover any veterinary costs incurred.
You should note that after payment, full consideration and processing, your licence may not be granted.
The application fee will not be refunded to you even if your licence is not granted.
The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 allow us to issue licences with a duration of one, two or three years.
In determining the duration of a licence the Council must be satisfied that the period to be granted is appropriate on the basis of its assessment of the following:
- the risk of the applicant breaching the licence conditions (including any particular licence conditions to be attached to the licence by us in relation to that particular operator);
- the possible impact of any such breaches on the welfare of any animals; and
- whether the applicant is already operating to higher standards of animal welfare than required by the licence conditions
Ais required to be kept of licensed premises under this legislation.