Bats: licences for surveys and research

Basic bat surveys don’t require a licence, but you’ll need one to handle or ring bats, or to enter roosts.


Basic ways to carry out a bat survey are to:

  • look for them outside – either leaving their roosts at dusk, or returning at dawn
  • listen for them with a bat detector

Such surveys don’t require a licence as your actions wouldn’t constitute an offence against bats or their roosts.

You will require a licence if you plan to:

  • catch and handle a bat for identification purposes
  • enter a roost to gain more information about the roost or its occupants

Licences are only granted where there’s no satisfactory alternative. This is one of the three strict European protected species licensing tests that must be met.

How to apply

Fill in the application form and email it to [email protected].

Download the Licence application form – bat survey

You shouldn’t complete the form if you already hold an equivalent licence with Natural England or Natural Resources Wales. Instead, email [email protected] and we’ll ask the agency for a reference.

In your email, let us know:

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • what type of licence you’re applying to us for
  • the name of the agency that issued your existing licence
  • the licence number

Our standard survey licences cover disturbance and the taking of bats by hand or handheld net. If you need to be licensed for another activity, you must:

  • be licensed for it by Natural England or Natural Resources Wales
  • provide us with two references specific to this activity using our licence application reference form

Science and research

You should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to bats (e.g. if bats are to be ringed, marked or radio-tracked).

To apply for a licence for scientific or research work, email [email protected].

You should include:

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • full details of your project – covering what and who will be involved, and where and when
  • a completed licence application reference form (if applicable)

If this is your first licence application for this activity, we’ll need two references from you. Your referees should be familiar with your work in this area and able to vouch for your competence.

Licence returns

A condition of any licence is that you must submit a licence return to us.

Bat survey licence return information should be submitted to us using our bat survey return form. Email us your completed form, giving your name and licence number in the subject line, and tell us if it’s an annual or final return.

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. But check your licence conditions first: you may be able to appoint agents and assistants without having to get them named on your licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.


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
Telephone: 01463 725 364
Email: [email protected]

Find out more

Data Protection notice

Accompanying notes for survey and monitoring licences

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