The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 aims to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals, they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public and which safeguard the welfare of the animals. Any person that wishes to keep any animal as listed in the prescribed list in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne must obtain a Dangerous Wild Animals Licence (DWA Licence) from the City Council.

List of Dangerous Animals for which a licence is required (pdf, 50 kb)

This does not apply to any dangerous wild animal kept in a zoo; a circus; premises licensed as a pet shop; or a place which is a designated establishment within the meaning of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

A person is held to be the keeper of the animal if they have it in their possession. They remain the 'keeper' and therefore are responsible for the animal, even if it escapes or it is being transported etc.

How to apply

Apply online

Exotic, dangerous and wild animals licence

Other ways to apply

How much will it cost?

The Licence will be issued subject to compliance with the Licence conditions and payment of the Licence Fee.

There is an application fee payable upon application and subject to annual renewal. However, should we require the expertise of an animal specialist this may incur further costs at your expense before a Licence is issued.

The application process

Any applicant for a DWA licence must:

  • be at least 18 years old;
  • own and process, or propose to own and possess, all of the animals that are to be included on the licence, unless there are circumstances which the City of Newcastle upon Tyne consider exceptional;
  • not have been disqualified under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 from keeping any dangerous wild animal.

To apply for a Dangerous Wild Animals Licence, applicants must complete and submit an application form with the relevant fee.

The City of Newcastle upon Tyne will arrange for an authorised Veterinary Surgeon/practitioner to undertake an inspection of the premises and produce a report, which the Council is legally obliged to consider when determining the the application.

The fee for this service is additional to the standard Licence fee. You are welcome to request that the premises are inspected by the vet you normally use for the treatment of your animals. If you do not wish to do this, the Council will appoint an appropriate Veterinary Surgeon or Practitioner as it sees fit.

The City of Newcastle upon Tyne will not grant a Licence unless satisfied that:

  • it would not be contrary to the public interest on the grounds of safety, nuisance or otherwise;
  • the applicant is a suitable person to hold a Licence and is adequately insured;
  • animals will be held in secure accommodation to prevent them from escaping;
  • accommodation for animals is suitable with regards to the construction, size, temperature lighting, ventilation, drainage and cleanliness,  and which is suitable for the number of animals proposed to be held in the accommodation;
  • animals are provided with adequate food, drink and bedding materials and will be visited at suitable intervals;
  • appropriate steps will be taken for the protection of any animal concerned in case of fire or other emergency;
  • appropriate steps will be taken to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases;
  • while any animal concerned is at the premises where it will normally be held, its accommodation is such that it can take adequate exercise.

How long will it take to process my application?

If we have not contacted you to make arrangements to authorise a Veterinary Surgeon to inspect your premises within 14 days of your application, please contact us to check that your application was correctly made and received.

Applicants are advised the application process can be fairly lengthy due to the necessity for a veterinary inspection. The Council will endeavour to issue a Licence within a period of 10 weeks from receipt of application, however if we have been unable to determine your application within this time a Licence will not be automatically granted due to animal welfare implications.

For renewals, please be reassured that if we have received your application form and fee before the expiry date of your existing Licence, we will treat your premises as if they are in possession of a valid Licence whilst the application is being processed. Applicants, who are late requesting renewal, thereby allowing their Licence to lapse, are advised to contact us immediately.

How long does a licence last?

The period of validity of a licence will be a maximum of two years. Licences will come into force immediately upon their being granted, except for renewals of a licence applied for before the expiry of the licence they are to replace, in which case the subsequent licence will come into force from the date of expiry of the licence it replaces.

Licences must be renewed before their expiry if the Licence holder is to continue to keep the animal(s) named on the Licence. Licence holders will receive a written reminder from the City of Newcastle upon Tyne prior to the expiry of their Licence.

In the event of death of anyone to whom a Licence has been granted, the Licence shall continue in force for a period of 28 days as if it had been granted to the personal representatives of the deceased. After a period of 28 days the Licence expires, unless application is made for a new Licence within that time, in which case it continues, until the new application is determined.

What conditions will be attached to a licence?

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 provides standard conditions that must be specified on a Licence. In addition to these conditions the City of Newcastle upon Tyne may impose others as they think fit.

If the City of Newcastle upon Tyne proposes to insert in a Licence a provision permitting any animal to be for any continuous period exceeding 72 hours at premises outside of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne it shall consult the authority in whose area those premises are situated.

As part of the Licence conditions, you are required to ensure that you have adequate Public Liability Insurance which provides cover for the animal(s) which you have on site.

You must ensure that any policy you take out provides sufficient cover against any damage which may be caused by the animal should it escape. The level of insurance will depend on many factors which may include the species and number of animals you wish to keep.

The City of Newcastle upon Tyne may at any time vary the Licence by specifying any new conditions of the Licence or varying or revoking any condition of it (exceptions apply to those conditions specified by section 1(6) of the DWA Act 1976).

Rights of entry

Local Authorities may authorise competent persons to enter premises either licensed under the Act or specified in an application for a Licence, at all reasonable times, and producing if required their authority, and the authorised officers may inspect these premises and any animal in them.

Powers of seizure

In addition to powers of inspection, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 also gives the Council powers to seize any animal being kept on premises which are unlicensed or failing to comply with a condition of their Licence.

Animals may then be either retained in the council's possession or be destroyed or otherwise disposed of and the authority shall not be liable to pay compensation to any person in respect of these powers.

Where we incur any expense in seizing, retaining or disposing of an animal then the person who was the keeper of the animal shall be liable for those costs.

Offences and penalties

The following offences and penalties apply:

  • any person found guilty of keeping an animal covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 without a Licence shall be subject to a fine not exceeding level 5 (currently £5,000);
  • any person found guilty of failing to comply with any Licence condition shall be subject to a fine not exceeding level 5 (currently £5000);
  • any person found guilty of obstructing or delaying an Inspector or Authorised Veterinary Practitioner or Veterinary Surgeon shall be subject to a fine not exceeding level 5 (currently £5000).

Where a person is convicted of any offence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, or of any offence under:

  • The Protection of Animals Acts 1911;
  • The Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925;
  • The Pet Animals Act 1951;
  • The Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act 1962;
  • The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963;
  • The Riding Establishments Acts 1964 and 1970;
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973;
  • Animal Welfare Act 2006, Sections 4,5,6(1)(2), 7 to 9 and 11;

The Court by which he is convicted may cancel any Licence held by him/her under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and may, whether or not he is the holder of such a Licence, disqualify him from keeping any dangerous wild animal for such period as the court thinks fit. The cancellation or disqualification may be suspended by the Court in the event of an appeal.

Will Tacit Consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it using the contact details below.

Right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a Licence or by any conditions to which a Licence is subject or by the variation or revocation of any condition of the Licence, may appeal to the Magistrates Courts who may give such directions regarding the Licence or its conditions as it thinks proper.

A court which has ordered the cancellation of a person's Licence, or his disqualification, in pursuance of the last foregoing subsection may, if it thinks fit, suspend the operation of the order pending an appeal.

Complaints

If you want to make a complaint about any dangerous wild animals establishment, please contact us.

If you feel we have failed to provide you with good service or are concerned about the progress of your application, please contact Trading Standards. We will endeavour to resolve any concerns you may have.

The Council also has a formal complaints procedure.

The information on this page has no legal force and is not an authoritative interpretation of the law, which is a matter for the Courts. It is intended to help individuals and businesses in Newcastle, wishing to be licensed under the provisions of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 to understand in general terms, the main features of the legislation. The information is not a substitute for the legislation and you should refer to the text of the Act for a full statement of legal requirements and obligations. Where appropriate, you should seek your own independent legal advice.

Contact details

For further information or clarification, please contact:

Trading Standards Service, Public Safety, Regulation and Development, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.
E mail: tradingstandards@newcastle.gov.uk
Phone: 0191 2116121

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Page last updated: 
5 July 2017
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