Research and testing using animals

The development of drugs and medical technologies that help to reduce suffering among humans and animals depends on the carefully regulated use of animals for research.

We respect the fact that people have strong ethical objections to the use of animals in scientific procedures. We have legislated so experimentation is only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

The use of animals in scientific procedures is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 which requires a three-level licensing system - personal licence, project licence and certificate of designation.

Granting licences

Under the 1986 Act, project licences are only granted for specified permissible purposes:

  • where there are no non-animal alternatives
  • when the benefits expected from the programmes of work are judged to outweigh the likely adverse effects on the animals concerned 
  • the number of animals used and their suffering must also be minimised

Applying for a licence

Applicants are strongly advised to read the relevant guidance on the operation of the act (new window) and the act (new window) itself before starting to complete the application forms.
You can download the codes of practice (new window) relating to the care and housing of laboratory animals, which include breeding and humane killing.

  • Each person who undertakes work under the Act must hold a personal licence
  • The programme of work must be authorised in a project licence
  • The places where scientific procedures are carried out must be licensed under a certificate of designation
  • The licensing charter is our service to those applying for and holding licences and certificates under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986


Annual report

This is the second year in which our two units, animals scientific procedures division (ASPD) and inspectorate (ASPI), have come together to produce one report of our year’s work. It provides details of our core statutory work in terms of licences issued and inspections performed during the year.

Read the complete animals and scientific procedures inspectorate and division annual report 2009.

Wickham Laboratories

The government has published a report by the Animals Scientific Procedures Inspectorate of a review of compliance at Wickham Laboratories.
A written ministerial statement on the report was issued on 30 November 2010. 


The full report of the 2009 statistics on scientific procedures on living animals is available on the Research and statistics section of the website.
The key points are:

  • just over 3.6 million scientific procedures were started in Great Britain in 2009, falling 1 per cent (-37,000)
  • breeding to produce genetically modified (GM) animals and harmful mutants (HM) increased by 10 per cent (+143,000) to 1.5 million procedures, accounted for by mice (+161,000
  • excluding such breeding, the numbers of procedures fell from 2.3 million to 2.1 million (-8 per cent or -180,000)
  • for the first time, procedures using genetically ‘normal’ animals were less than half the total (48 per cent)
  • there was an increase of 9 per cent in numbers of procedures involving mice, a fall of 7 per cent for non human primates, and falls for most other species
  • the total number of procedures was a third (+33 per cent or +905,000) higher in 2009 than in 2000, mostly accounted for by breeding to produce GM and HM animals (+834,000 higher, of which mice +734,000). Excluding such breeding, the total was slightly higher than in 2000 (+3% or +70,000).

ASPA e-newsletters

These newsletters are for those with licences granted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and others with an interest in the use of animals in scientific research and testing.

If you would like to have the newsletters sent to you by email, please send your contact details to


We publish details of project licences granted under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to contribute to greater openness, and to greater public understanding and debate, about the use of animals in science, and how it is regulated. These abstracts are produced by the project licence holders and the Home Office bears no authorial or editorial responsibility for the content of the abstracts.

The project licence holders are owners of the copyright relating to abstracts. Requests for any permission to reproduce any part of the material must be made to the project licence holders via the Home Office. There is no legal obligation for the licence holders to provide abstracts although we actively encourage their publication.

Abstracts from March 2010 onwards can found in the publications area. Abstracts before March 2010 are on the archived version of the Animals in Scientific Procedures website (new window).

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