Tack shop legal issues

Green tack shop sign hanging down from wooden pillar

Some of the key areas where legislation is likely to affect your business are listed below.

What licences does a tack shop need?

If you want to supply animal medicines such as wormers for horses, cats and dogs which are classified as NFA-VPS (Non-Food Animals-Veterinarian, Pharmacist, Suitably Qualified Person) you must qualify as a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) and be included in the Register of Suitably Qualified Persons maintained by the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA).

SQPs can only supply these medicines if their premises are inspected and approved by - and registered with - the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Online retailers selling wormers and other licensed animal medicines can join the VMD Accredited Internet Retailer Scheme. This entitles them to display the VMD Internet Retailer logo on their website. You can find out more on the AMTRA and Gov.uk websites.

Sale of animal feed

Under the Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations (and similar regulations in Scotland and Wales) you will need to register with your local trading standards authority if you sell animal feeds.

Carrier bag charge

A minimum 10p charge applies for single-use carrier bags in England (other rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). You can get detailed guidance from the GOV.UK website.

You should also be aware of the following:

  • if background music is played in the shop you will need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. There is an annual fee for this which you can pay online on the PPL PRS website
  • farriers and shoeing smiths have to register with the Farriers Registration Council

Sale of NFA-VPS animal medicines

NFA-VPS (Non-Food Animals-Veterinarian, Pharmacist, Suitably Qualified Person) medicines can only be sold by people who have qualified as a Suitably Qualified Person and who are entered on the appropriate SQP Register, maintained by AMTRA (the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority). The premises must be approved by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. You can download the Code of Practice for Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) from the AMTRA website. The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) website contains comprehensive details of the legislation relevant to animal medicines.

Feeding stuffs regulations

These regulations regulate the preparation and sale of animal feedstuffs and require retailers to provide customers with a "statutory statement" (that is, a label) showing information about the composition of the product and its proper storage, handling and use. You will also need to register with your local trading standards authority.

Selling pesticides

EU Regulation 1107/2009 prohibits the use of active substances in plant protection products unless they have been approved. The Pesticides Directorate website includes a link to the European Commission's database of approved active substances and also provides guidance on how to search it.

Be aware that three key neonicotinoid insecticides, lothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam, were banned temporarily by the EU while a risk assessment was carried out. Following a review of the position, which ended at the beginning of 2017, the European Commission presented to the Member States on 23 March 2017 its draft regulations to ban neonicotinoids. At the time of writing (June 2017) the vote by Member States on the ban had not yet taken place.

Classifying chemicals

Under the EC regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (the CLP Regulation) chemicals such as hoof preparations and fly repellents must be classified and labelled correctly to indicate how they might be hazardous when stored and used. You should make sure you are aware of the potential hazards indicated by the different pictograms on a product's packaging. You can find out more on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

BETA Code of Conduct

Members of BETA (the British Equestrian Trade Association) are required to comply with a Retailer Code of Conduct. You can find out more on the BETA website.


There is a wide range of legislation that applies to retail outlets and that protects the interests of the consumer. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described and the retail price of goods must be clearly displayed. You will be responsible for making sure that all goods or services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Selling goods online

If you sell goods online then there's special legislation that applies to your business. For example, you must give customers detailed information about your products, delivery charges and cancellation rights and include certain information about your business on your website. There's detailed guidance on your legal obligations to consumers, and on the requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website. Information about special legislation for online retailers is also available on the Gov.uk website.

Carrier bag charge

A 5 pence charge applies in England, but small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees) are exempt. You can get detailed guidance from the gov.uk website.

Retailers in Wales and Scotland must charge customers at least 5 pence if they supply them with a single-use carrier bag. This applies to all types of single-use bag, whether they are made of plastic, paper or plant-based starch. There is detailed guidance on the Gov.Wales and Zero Waste Scotland websites.

In Northern Ireland retailers must charge customers a 5 pence levy on all bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence (including any bags that would otherwise be free of charge), whether they are single-use or reusable.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a tack shop

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • premises, premises contents and stock
  • customers' goods (for sale/repair)
  • goods in transit (being collected or delivered)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • product liability
  • motor insurance (for delivery vehicles)

Members of the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) benefit from preferential rates on insurance cover.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) also offers insurance services to its members.

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