To keep certain dangerous and exotic animals, individuals and businesses need to have a Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) licence issued by their Local Authority and have valid Public Liability Insurance which covers Dangerous Wild Animals. 

What animals require a licence?

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 is a Schedule of all animals which require a DWA licence.

Schedule of animals -(PDF  65KB)

Certain Hybrid or cross-bred animals may need a licence, depending on how far removed the animal is from its wild ancestor. If you are unsure you can contact the Appointed Animal Licensing Inspector for confirmation.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 

The Legislative Reform (Dangerous Wild Animals) (Licensing) Order 2010  amended the length of a licence to 2 years and allowed a licence to start immediately after being granted. 

Businesses which are operating as a Circus or a Licensed Zoo or Pet Shop are excluded from these licensing requirements. 

How do I apply for a licence?

All applicants must be over the age of 18 and must not be excluded from Keeping a Dangerous Wild Animal under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

An applicant must show a specialist knowledge in the species they wish to keep, with a clear understanding of its needs and welfare. They must have a clear understanding of the risks involved in caring for an animal listed on the DWA schedule.

It is recommended you make contact with the councils Appointed Animal Licensing Inspector to discuss submitting your proposed plans before an official application is made. 

When ready to apply, please complete the below application form and make the relevant application payment. 

Dangerous Wild Animal Application (Word 35KB)

How much does a licence cost?

Domestic application fee:

New applications: £300 / Renewals: £275

Commercial application fee:

New applications: £900 / Renewals: £800

Variation - £75 

Variation if inspection required: £200

The above payments need to be made alongside your application. 

No licence will be granted unless there has been a veterinary inspection. You will need to pay the cost of all inspections carried out by our authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner. All payments are to be made prior to the grant of a licence. 

What happens once I have submitted an application?

Once an application is received it will be checked by the councils Appointed Animal Licensing Inspector. They will be in touch with you to discuss your application and will liaise with the our authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner and yourself to arrange a suitable time to carry out your inspection. 

All premises are inspected prior to a licence being granted. The inspectors consider the following:

  • granting a licence is not contrary to the public interest to do so on the grounds of safety, nuisance or other grounds;
  • the applicant is a suitable person to keep the animals concerned; 
  • the applicants has strong knowledge of the species and the species welfare needs and requirements
  • the animal(s) will be kept in accommodation that prevents its escape and is suitable in respect of construction, size, temperature, drainage and cleanliness;
  • the animal(s) will be supplied with adequate and suitable food, drink and bedding material and be visited at suitable intervals.
  • appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the protection of the animal(s) in case of fire or other emergency;
  • all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases;
  • the animal(s) accommodation is such that it can take adequate exercise.

What happens after an inspection?

If an inspection is successful and all outstanding costs have been received, a licence alongside a set of conditions will be granted. A licence is granted for 2 years. 

Where a licence is issued, it will be subject to conditions which will specify that:

  • only the person named on the licence shall be entitled to keep the animal;
  • the animal shall only be kept on the premises named on the licence;
  • the animal shall not be moved or may only be moved in accordance with conditions specified in the licence;
  • the licensee must hold a current insurance policy, approved by us, which insures against liability for damage caused by the animal;
  • only the species and number of animals listed on the licence may be kept;
  • the licensee shall make a copy of the licence and its contents available to any other person listed on the licence as being able to look after the animal; 
  • we may at any time revoke or amend any licence condition, apart from those covered in the list above.

Alongside the above conditions, the council will include any other conditions considered necessary. 

What happens if a licence is refused?

It is advisable for you to speak to the Appointed Animal Licensing Inspector first to discuss why you have not been successful and what would be required before a licence would be granted.

You can appeal either against a refusal of licence, or of any conditions attached to it. You need to appeal to a Magistrates' Court.


A number of offences and penalties apply.

If you are found guilty of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence, or fail to comply with any licence conditions, you could be fined up to £2,000.

If you are found guilty of obstructing or delaying an inspector, authorised veterinary practitioner or surgeon, you could be fined up to £2,000.

If you keep a dangerous wild animal without a licence, or if you fail to comply with a licence condition, we may seize the animal from you and either have it destroyed or disposed of (to a zoo or elsewhere) without compensating you. If we incur any costs doing this then you will be liable to pay.