Animal health and licensing

Animal health and licensing

Importing animals and animal products

Specific guidelines about the trade of animals and animal products have been produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Traders must follow detailed guidelines for products of animal origin in addition to the general checks at the point of entry into the UK. 

Newcastle City Council is responsible for policing and monitoring animals entering the country using either Newcastle International Airport or the River Tyne, within the controlled district of Newcastle City Council.

Animal Health Officers monitor this very closely as part of the measures in place to prevent such diseases as rabies from entering the country. Our duties also extend to any other animal, particularly those on the Dangerous Wild Animals list or a protected species. We are given full support and co-operation by officers from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the United Kingdom Borders Force (UKBF), as well as Northumbria Police.

Avian Flu

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.

APHA have now announced that new housing measures to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will come into force from 00:01 on Monday 29 November.

This now means it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread and to eradicate the disease. More information at:

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has also been declared across Great Britain effective from 5pm on 3 November 2021. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.

Separate AIPZ declarations have been made in each Great Britain administration.

Further details of the measures that apply in the AIPZ in England can be found in the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declaration (Pdf, 184 Kb, 7 pages).

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 - please select option 7).

All bird keepers (whether you have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.

You should register your poultry, even if only kept as pets, so we can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

For further information go to

Health inspections of farmed animals

Our Animal Health Inspectors carry out a disease risk assessment of all livestock farms in Newcastle upon Tyne. During a scheduled visit to a farm the Animal Health Inspector will check all Livestock related documentation, such as;

  • Flock and herd records of all movements on and off the premise

  • Veterinary medicine records, animal by-products disposal route

  • Stock on the holding will also be checked on welfare grounds and to ascertain whether or not they comply with current tagging/identity legislation

Keeping poultry on a domestic property

Keeping a few hens in the back garden to provide year round eggs is becoming more and more popular. There are no laws preventing you keeping hens, providing they are looked after properly and their welfare is taken seriously. However, it is advisable to check your property deeds or consult your landlord to make sure there are no covenants preventing the keeping of livestock. By law you must register with DEFRA if you are responsible for fifty or more birds. 

Buying a cat or dog

Animal lovers should take care when buying a new pet. Do not buy a cat or dog from an unknown source and be careful when buying animals advertised on the internet or in a newspaper. Illegally imported dogs and cats may carry diseases such as rabies and advertising may mislead you on details about the animal's history, breed or pedigree. DEFRA have produced guidance for the basic checks you should carry out when buying a cat or dog.

Abandonment and fly-grazing

Most abandonment and fly-grazing cases are a civil matters. If  you think the animal may be in distress you can report it to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. If you believe an animal has been abandoned or is fly-grazing  on land managed by the Council, please contact us on 0191 278 7878.

Animal licences

Animal movement licences

All animal movements are controlled by a general licence. In addition to the general licence, in respect of the movement of deer must be accompanied by a completed AML1 form. Movement must be reported to Local Authorities using the form AML1 within 3 days of the movement taking place. Forms need to be completed in triplicate. One copy is to be retained by the owner of the animals, two copies to the person buying the animals, one of which should be forwarded to the authority.

Dangerous and wild animals

Anyone who keeps an animal that is prescribed as dangerous and or wild must hold a licence to do so. 

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Anyone who keeps or trains animals for the purposes of exhibition must hold a licence to do so.

Feed hygiene

The Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005 requires all businesses that make, use or market animal feeds (including farms, but excluding pet food retailers) to register with the council. Find out more about feed hygiene registration.

Dog breeding

Anyone runs a business that breeds and sells dogs, or have a dog that has more than 3 litters in a year and sell the puppies, you need a licence to breed dogs.

Animal boarding

Anyone keeps dogs or cats overnight as part of a business, you may need an animal boarding licence

Selling Pets

Anyone who sells animals as pets needs a pet shop licence, even if they don't work out of an actual shop. 

Hire of horses

Anyone who hires out horses, such as riding establishments, needs a licence to do so.

Zoo licences

Anyone who keeps wild animals for exhibition other than a circus or pet shop must apply for a zoo licence


Details of all fees applicable for licences issued by the Council.


Trading Standards service, Directorate of Operations and Regulatory service, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Email:


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