Birds: licences for possession

It’s an offence to possess wild birds, bird parts or eggs, unless the item was killed or taken legally.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 bans the possession of:

  • wild birds (dead or alive)
  • parts of wild birds
  • the eggs of wild birds

It is not an offence if you can show that the specimen was killed or taken legally – for example, prior to the Protection of Birds Act 1954.

A licence thus isn’t required to possess birds stuffed and mounted before 1954, or eggs taken prior to this date. But it would be your responsibility to show that items had been taken legally were the police ever to question you.

Trade in wild birds

It’s illegal to sell, offer or advertise for sale any dead wild bird or egg, except for certain species listed in Schedule 3 of the 1981 Act (and then only if certain criteria are met).

Importantly, General Licence 11/2023 and General Licence 12/2023 permit some trade in dead birds, as long as you can satisfy the conditions.

For other situations, you may wish to contact us to request an individual licence for possession of wild bird specimens. We may be able to issue such a licence for certain reasons, like education, taxidermy or sale of a specimen.


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]

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