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.  European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes was implemented in the United Kingdom and other Member States from 1 January 2013. 

This version of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 incorporates the changes made by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3039) made on 18 December 2012.

Please do not take this document to be a definitive statement of the law. It should be treated as a working document and is provided for information purposes only.

A definitive version of the Act will appear in due course on  We have produced a ‘quick start’ guide to the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (as amended). We have also produced a transitional guide which explains how the changes to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) are brought in by the new European Directive.

Applying for 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

Applicants are strongly advised to read the relevant guidance on the operation of the Act and the amended version of ASPA before starting to compete 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 have an establishment licence.

The licensing charter is our service to those applying for and holding licences and certificates under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

You can read the standard conditions for establishment licences project licences and personal licences A>

Conflicts of Interest Declaration for Named Persons

It is important that any named person1 responsible for animal welfare under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 must not be in a position where he or she does not put his/her over-riding welfare obligations to the animals first. A person with a controlling financial interest or a substantial interest in the scientific outcome of a project might be presumed not to be suitable as such a named person in the absence of compelling circumstances to the contrary.

In order for the Secretary of State to determine whether an individual nominated to be such a named person is suitable, it is important to be fully aware of any real or perceived conflicts of interest which exist.  A separate declaration should be completed by each person nominated by an establishment licence holder to be such a named person and should accompany the Application for Designation of an Establishment, or the Application for Change(s), as appropriate.


Annual report

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

You can read the 2011 report.


The full report of the 2011 statistics on scientific procedures on living animals was published 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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