Birds: licences for photography

A licence isn’t usually needed to photograph wild birds. Licences are only required where actions might otherwise constitute an offence.

Most bird photography doesn’t need a licence. But a licence is required if photography:

A licence isn’t required to photograph Schedule 1 birds that are well away from the nest. But many such species are more prone to disturbance during the breeding season and may be disturbed even from great distances. You must be very careful to act within the law.

NatureScot issues a small number of licences each year to allow specific Schedule 1 species to be photographed and disturbed at, on or near the nest. We only grant licences to experienced individuals able to show their skill in photographing breeding birds.

Bird welfare is the most important factor when we assess any licence application.

How to apply

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

Download the Licence application form – bird filming and photography

Read about Wildlife photography in Scotland: Licensing

Licence returns

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

Bird photography licence return information should be submitted to us using our bird photography return form. Email us your completed form, giving your name and licence number in the subject line.

You must also attach or link to a sample of the images/video you have taken.

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.

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: