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To open a zoo in England, Scotland and Wales, you will need a licence issued under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.

At least two months prior to applying for the licence, the applicant must inform the Animal Licensing team in writing (or email) of the following things:

  • the proposed location of the zoo
  • the types of animals and approximate number of each group kept for show at the zoo and how they will be housed and looked after
  • the approximate numbers and roles of staff to be employed in the zoo
  • the approximate number of visitors and cars/vehicles expected at the zoo
  • the number and place of all entrances to the zoo
  • how conservation measures will be put in place at the zoo

The applicant will also be required to publish notice of their plans in at least one local, and one national newspaper two months prior to making the application. This notice must include the proposed location of the zoo and inform the public that the application notice will be available to read at the Town Hall in Tunbridge Wells.

Make a licence application

Before you start

You will need:

  • details of the applicant, agent (if applicable), business and the premises to be licensed
  • details of any emergency key holder(s), insurance policy and veterinary surgery
  • to have read the relevant statutory guidance (links available in the form)
  • documents to be uploaded, these include:
    • plan of the premises
    • insurance policy
    • standard operating procedures
    • emergency response plan
    • prevention and control of spread of disease procedure
    • qualifications, knowledge and experience
    • training records
  • a credit or debit card to make your fee payment

If you require assistance with your application, please contact the Environmental Health team on 01622 602450 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Apply now

Changes to an existing licence

If you are an existing business and need to report a change of circumstances, please contact the Environmental Health team by email to or telephone 01622 602450. Please note, there is a variation charge for all changes.

Statutory guidance

The following statutory guidance applies to operating a zoo:

Further information

You can find out more about our fees and charges and the star rating scheme below.

Fees  and Charges


£1,670 for a licence, which must be renewed after the first four years and then after six years for each subsequent licence granted.

Veterinary fees will be charged in addition to this fee and are based upon an hourly rate determined by DEFRA including travel time.

Fees must be paid in full (along with any veterinary fees) prior to the licence being issued.

Other charges

Licence renewals

  • charged at the same rate as new applications as above

Requests for variations

  • administration amendment £40
  • inspector visit (if required) £87 (additional to administration charge)
  • vet fees will be recharged (if applicable) based upon an hourly rate plus travel time

Request for re-inspection (for all licence types)

  • £152 plus vet fees (if applicable)

Pre-licence application advice and visit

  • Charged at an hourly rate of £40 per hour.

Supplementary fee for additional licensable activity provided by a business at one site applied for at the same time

  • £72 for each additional activity (this is in addition to the appropriate Part A fee and corresponding Part B fee as above)

Making a payment

Payments can be made online. Please note, fees are non-refundable.

Star rating scheme

Licences can be issued for a period of either one, two or three years depending on the risk rating and level of compliance. This also corresponds with the star rating for the establishment.

The procedural guidance describes the risk-based system that must be used when issuing licences under the Regulations (with the exception of 'Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition' where all licences are issued for three years).

Use of this system determines both the length of the licence and the star rating that will be awarded. Local authorities in England are expected to follow it in full.

Welfare standards / risk scoring matrix

Minor failings * Minimum standards ** Higher standards **
Low risk 1 Star
1-year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 12-month period
3 Star
2-year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 24-month period
5 Star
3-year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 36-month period
Higher risk 1 Star
1-year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 12-month period
2 Star
1-year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 12-month period
4 Star
2-year licence
Min 1 unannounced visit within a 24-month period

* existing business that are failing to meet minimum standards
** as laid down in the schedule and guidance

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published Animal activities licensing: statutory guidance for local authorities to assist in assessing the regulations, which are available to be downloaded.