Complete Guide to Securing an Exemption Certificate for XL Bully Owners

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XL Bully sitting with his owner celebrating obtaining an exemption certificate

Do you need to apply for an exemption certificate for XL Bully? An exemption certificate for XL Bully dogs is mandatory in England and Wales to comply with breed-specific legislation. Our guide cuts through the complexity of the application process, eligibility, and the vital steps to maintain your dog’s legal exemption. Stay ahead of the legal curve to ensure your beloved XL Bully can remain by your side without worries.

Key Takeaways

  • An exemption certificate is mandatory under the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act for XL Bully owners, requiring eligibility assessment, application before January 31, 2024, securing third-party liability insurance, and ensuring the dog meets breed standards.
  • Compliance with the exemption includes getting your XL Bully neutered and microchipped, adhering to specific deadlines based on the dog’s age, and maintaining the certificate by meeting conditions like muzzle and lead usage in public.
  • Financial responsibilities for XL Bully owners involve a one-time exemption certificate fee of £92.40, obtaining third-party liability insurance, and understanding the training and prohibited actions post-ban to avoid criminal offenses.
  • Scotland’s recent implementation of the XL Bully Ban will result in XL Bully dogs falling under breed-specific legislation across the nation. This ban, mirroring measures in England and Wales, aims to address growing concerns.

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Understanding the Exemption Certificate for XL Bully Dogs

XL Bully dog in a natural setting

The exemption certificate serves as a passport, enabling your XL Bully to legally reside with you. The UK government, under the Dangerous Dogs Act, requires this certificate for specific dog breeds, including the American Bully XL. The certificate of exemption is the culmination of a process involving eligibility assessment, application, and maintenance of the exemption status.

This path must be traversed carefully because abandoning an XL Bully dog is a criminal offence.

If you have missed the deadline for an exemption certificate, check out our article here.

Eligibility Criteria for XL Bully Exemption

You can find all relevant details on the UK Government’s website on the Official Definition of a XL Bully for detailed information.

In the case you need to contact the authorities to determine your dogs breed, here are the contact details:

Index of Exempted Dogs
Telephone: 020 8026 4296
Find out about call charges

Dogs Index
PO Box 68250

Applying for Your Dog’s Exemption Certificate

Dog owners are required to apply for the exemption certificate before January 31, 2024. The application can be submitted through the Government’s website or via post, and up to 30 dogs can be included in a single postal application.

Alongside the application, you must secure third-party liability insurance for your XL Bully. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to your dog being unlawfully possessed, leading to its seizure by the authorities.

Maintaining Valid Exemption Status

Obtaining your dog’s exemption certificate is not the end of the process. It’s vital to ensure that your XL Bully always wears a muzzle and is on a lead in public, and they must be kept in a secure environment to prevent escape. Your vet will also need to complete and submit the VCN01 form to Defra to maintain the certificate’s validity, which is available on the Government’s website.

Any failure to comply with these conditions could lead to the owner committing a criminal offence, potentially resulting in the seizure of the dog.

The Path to Compliance: Neutering and Microchipping

Neutering and microchipping procedures for XL Bully dogs

Neutering and microchipping your XL Bully dog is a key step in the exemption process. These procedures are not just for compliance with legal requirements but also promote responsible ownership and management of these dogs.

XL Bully owners are advised to take the following actions:

  • Discontinue breeding their dogs immediately
  • Ensure that their dogs are neutered and microchipped if this has not been done already
  • Follow specific deadlines for these procedures based on the dog’s age.

Timeline for Mandatory Procedures

The deadlines for neutering and microchipping your XL Bully are clear-cut and dependent on the age of your dog. If your dog was older than a year as of January 31st, 2024, the procedures should be done by June 30th, 2024.

On the other hand, for dogs younger than a year on that date, the deadline is December 31st, 2024.

Finding a Registered Vet for Procedures

Once you’re clear about the timeline, the next step is to find a registered vet to perform the procedures. Your vet should be able to confirm the neutering of your XL Bully and fulfil the necessary documentation, such as the VCN01 form. No specific additional qualifications are needed for the vet to perform these procedures on your dog.

You can locate registered veterinary practices authorized to perform these procedures using online directories or resources offered by national veterinary associations.

Financial Responsibilities: Insurance and Fees

Exemption certificate cost for XL Bully dogs

Owning an XL Bully dog comes with certain financial responsibilities. One of the significant costs you’ll need to factor in is the fee for acquiring an exemption certificate, which stands at £92.40.

Another critical cost is securing third-party liability insurance, which provides protection for the owner in the event that their dog causes injury to another person, their property, or other pets.

Cost of the Exemption Certificate

The fee for acquiring an exemption certificate for your XL Bully dog is a one-time cost of £92.40 for each individual XL Bully dog. It’s crucial to remember that this fee is not an annual payment but a one-time cost.

Securing Third Party Liability Insurance

Third-party liability insurance, also known as third party public liability insurance, is a crucial element of the exemption process. It provides coverage for expenses and compensation related to accidental injury or damage caused by your dog. This insurance is essential for XL Bully owners due to legal requirements and its role in safeguarding against potential damages or injuries caused by the dog.

The typical expense for this insurance may vary, but it can offer coverage of up to £2 million per event in case your dog causes injury or damage. XL Bully owners can acquire it through the companion club, as stated in the source text.

Training Requirements: Muzzles and Leads

landscape-oriented featured image showcasing a dog trainer in training

With the exemption certificate and insurance taken care of, it’s time to focus on training requirements for your XL Bully. This includes muzzle training and understanding lead regulations. XL Bully dogs must wear a muzzle when in public and be walked on a lead at all times.

Commencing muzzle and lead training for your dog now is advisable to ensure their familiarity with these regulations before they become mandatory on 31st December 2023.

Importance of Muzzle Training

Muzzle training is an essential part of the journey for XL Bully owners. It enhances safety for veterinary teams and contributes to improved treatment outcomes. Utilizing positive reward-based training is recommended for XL Bully owners to habituate their dogs to wearing a muzzle.

Organizations like Dogs Trust and the Blue Cross provide guidance and training options for muzzle training, and in some cases, you may even consult a council dog warden for assistance.

Basket Muzzle

Fitting your XL Bully with a muzzle will become a legal requirement starting 31st December 2023. Accordingly, we have selected a muzzle available on Amazon that is specifically designed for the comfort and breathability of your XL Bully. This choice ensures a secure fit, while simultaneously allowing your dog to pant and drink water. You can check out muzzle training guide here.

Top Selling

Basket Muzzle

  • Allows dogs to pant when hot or stressed and drink

  • Can be heat shaped to fit different dog nose shapes

  • Strong Thermo Plastic Rubber (TPR)


Lead Regulations for Exempted Dogs

In addition to the muzzle, it’s important that XL Bully dogs are kept on a lead in public. The lead must be held by an individual who is at least 16 years old.

It is advisable to use a harness with a no more than 2 meter dog lead for your XL Bully. The recommended lead should be heavy-duty and strong to ensure the safety and control of the dog.

Front Range™ Dog Lead

Top Selling

  • Combines a strong connection with an elegant design

  • Includes a padded handle, Ruffwear's unique lockable Crux Clip™ hardware, and a bold design

  • Keeps you comfortably connected to your canine companion


Double-Clipped Harness

Top Selling

  • Front Range Harness is a padded everyday dog harness

  • Easy to put on and comfortable for dogs to wear 

  • Features two leash attachment options


Prohibited Actions Post-Ban

Consequences of abandoning an XL Bully dog

Having secured the exemption certificate and met all requirements, understanding the post-ban prohibited actions is of paramount importance. These include:

  • breeding
  • selling
  • advertising
  • rehoming
  • abandoning
  • allowing an XL Bully dog to stray.

Breeding XL Bully dogs after the ban will constitute a criminal offense and will be subject to penalties as prescribed by the law.

Consequences of Abandoning an XL Bully

Abandoning an XL Bully dog, or in other words, an XL Bully dog abandon, can have serious legal consequences including fines and/or criminal charges.

Restrictions on Ownership Numbers

Legal restrictions on the ownership of XL Bully dogs stipulate that it is prohibited to possess an XL Bully dog unless it is listed on the Index of Exempted Dogs. Nevertheless, it is possible for multiple exemption certificates to be granted to the same owner, enabling them to lawfully possess more than one XL Bully dog.

The exemption process can seem daunting, so here’s a breakdown into more digestible steps. From understanding breed standards to completing the application forms, we’ve got you covered.

The application forms for the exemption certificate are available on the official government website. The process involves:

  1. Submitting personal information
  2. Providing contact details
  3. Indicating the number of XL Bully dogs you possess
  4. Submitting any relevant supporting documentation.

Assessing Your Dog Against Breed Standards

Start by evaluating your dog in accordance with the breed standards. These include specific traits, such as a minimum height at the withers and the demonstration of a large size, muscular body, and blocky head, typical of the XL Bully breed type. You should check your dog’s size and height at the withers, as per the physical conformation standard developed by Defra and the guide provided by the UK government.

Completing the Application Forms

After your dog conforms to the breed standards, proceed to fill out the application forms. The required documents for this process include proof of microchipping, dog’s vaccination record, proof of third-party liability insurance, and proof of neutering.

Owners can complete the exemption certificate application form through email or post using the PDF form available online. To apply for a certificate, sample forms for the application can be found online on the official UK government website, which can assist owners in correctly filling out their applications.

Support Resources for XL Bully Owners

Securing an exemption certificate need not be a solitary or overwhelming task. There are several support resources available for XL Bully owners, including organizations offering assistance and avenues for accessing behaviour and training help.

Organizations like Dogs Trust provide assistance to XL Bully dog owners, offering complimentary muzzle training, along with hands-on support and guidance.

Organizations Offering Assistance

Nationally recognized organizations such as the RSPCA provide guidance for American XL Bully owners offering a range of support for XL Bully dogs and their owners. Local organisations such as rescue and rehoming organisations and housing associations may also be willing to accommodate exempted XL Bullies.

The RSPCA offers financial assistance for specific expenses such as neutering, while rescue organizations may help with the exemption application fees for dogs acquired before the specified deadline.


The journey to securing an exemption certificate for your XL Bully dog may seem daunting, but with the right guidance and resources, it’s a manageable process.

From understanding the breed standards to navigating the application process, and adhering to the legal requirements and training protocols, you can successfully secure your dog’s legal status.

Remember, every step taken is a step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of your beloved pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a certificate of exemption for XL Bully?

To get a certificate of exemption for your XL Bully in England and Wales, you can apply through the Government’s website or by downloading the form to apply by post. It will be a criminal offense to own an XL Bully without this certificate starting from 1 February 2024.

What is the new law on XL bullies?

The new law on XL bullies, which came into force on December 31, makes it illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or let XL bully dogs stray in England and Wales. They must also be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.

Can you insure an XL Bully UK?

Yes, you can insure an XL Bully UK, but you’ll need to have third-party public liability insurance, which can be provided by Dogs Trust Membership and must renew annually for the life of the dog.

Can you have a XL bully in a council house?

You may have an XL bully in a council house by following the proper procedure, which includes reapplying for permission through your local housing office and meeting specific requirements such as signing a Responsible Dog Owner Agreement and obtaining third party insurance. Keep in mind that housing legislation prohibits certain breeds, so it’s essential to adhere to the regulations.

How do I know if my dog qualifies for an exemption certificate?

To know if your dog qualifies for an exemption certificate, check if it meets specific breed standards such as a minimum height at the withers and physical characteristics typical of the XL Bully breed type.

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