Licensing process

Read more about the licensing application process, from average processing times to adding persons to a licence.

Applying for a licence

A protected species licence application for development projects should not be made until the necessary planning permissions and consents are in place.  This should be considered when signing the relevant licence application declaration.

Not all of our licences require you to submit a licence application form. Often an email is all that is needed. Each species licensing guide tells you how to apply for licences for that species.

Alternatively, you can search our licence application forms by species.

General licences for birds and general authorisations for deer don’t require any kind of application. You must be sure that you’re using the licence or authorisation for the correct reason and abide by all the listed conditions.

Hard copies not required

We no longer require applicants to send hard copies of licence application forms. Emailing us your completed form (or details) is enough.

The following licences can be applied for online, without the need to email or post a form:

No application fee

NatureScot doesn’t charge licence application fees. Nor is there a charge when we issue you with a licence.

You may incur a cost, however, if you require the help of a professional or specialist such as an ecologist or licensed bat worker to conduct a species survey.

Processing times

We aim to assess all applications as quickly as we can. We will acknowledge your application by email on receipt and then consider it as soon as possible.

We email licences to licence holders as soon as they’re ready.

Processing times vary by licence type, and they also depend on the complexity of the project or quality of the application forms and supporting documents we receive.  We may also require to seek advice from specialist species advisors which may also lead to a delay in processing.

Urgent cases

We can’t usually prioritise licensing applications marked as urgent over applications received at any earlier date.

You should submit your application well in advance of the date you require the licence to start. You can apply at any time of year, even if the licence is for a specific time period.

Licence amendments

You can amend any licence by emailing [email protected], stating the licence number and detailing the changes required.

To add persons to your licence, let us know their names. You must also tell us whether each person is to be an:

  • ‘agent’ – i.e. able to operate independently of the licence holder
  • ‘assistant’ – i.e. can only work under the supervision of the licence holder

But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

The licence holder is ultimately responsible for the actions of agents or assistants.

Licence returns

Most of our licences require the licence holder to submit returns. We won’t amend or renew a licence until we’ve received accurate returns information. You should consider your return as early as possible to avoid delays.

Our species licensing guides explain if returns information is required for a licence. The licence itself will also set out what is needed.

You can also search for licence return forms by species.

Find out more

Data Protection notice


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]

Last updated: