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 and the act itself before starting to complete the application forms.
You can download the codes of practice 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

The 2011 report covers topics such as licensing and inspection, compliance and infringement, and initiatives.

You can read the 2011 report here.

Transposition of EU Directive 2010/63

We published the government response to the public consultation on the options for transposition of the Directive on the 17 May 2012.

You can also read the written ministerial statement on the consultation response.

Draft regulations transposing the Directive and a consolidated, amended version of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 incorporating the changes set out in the draft regulations have been sent to stakeholders.  The documents are not yet complete and may be subject to change; however, together they show how the requirements of the new Directive are likely to be transposed into UK legislation.


The full report of the 2011 statistics on scientific procedures on living animals was publishd on 10 July 2012.   

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 2012, 2011, and post-March 2010 are available. 
Abstracts before March 2010 are on the archived version of the Animals in Scientific Procedures website.

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