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Types of Animal Research Licenses

Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), three licenses need to be held in order to conduct research on a protected animal. These are an establishment license (PEL), personal license (PIL) and a project license (PPL). Licenses are issued by the Home Office in England, Scotland and Wales, and by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland.

Establishment license

An establishment license is required by any establishment where regulated procedures are carried out. This includes establishments that conduct the breeding and supply of laboratory animals. Establishments are mainly universities but can also be commercial organisations such as drug companies, contract research companies, non-profit making organisations, government departments or public health organisations. Under this license, each establishment must have at least one named veterinary surgeon, named animal care and welfare officer, named training and competency officer, and named information officer.

Personal license

A personal license is required by anyone who wishes to conduct regulated animal research procedures. This type of license is specific to the individual, and contains information on which procedures can be conducted, the species that can be used, the place in which the procedures can take place (which must hold an establishment license), and any details of required supervision. Training should be conducted prior to applying for a personal license to ensure proper research skills and knowledge. Further supervision by the project license holder will take place when a license is granted if necessary to ensure procedures are conducted competently.  A personal license will only be authorised if the applicant has appropriate education and training and is competent in applying regulated procedures. They must also be able to appropriately handle and care for the laboratory animals being used.

Project license

A project license is required for any research requiring regulated procedures to be conducted. This license specifies the work that can be conducted within the project, including any background information on the study, specific procedures that will be conducted and the establishment where the work is being conducted. The scientific rationale behind why animals are required for the study, and the number and species of animals required must also be included, with details of how procedures will have the minimum impact possible on the animals. Any amendments to the original project license application must also be submitted to the Home Office for review.

The Home Office provides guidance to support project license applications.

Before applications are sent to the Home Office for approval, the Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body (AWERB) for the establishment must scrutinise project license applications to ensure the 3Rs have been thoroughly applied.

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