Birds: licences for public health and safety and air safety

People and wildlife usually coexist happily but sometimes the presence of nesting birds close to people can result in problems.

Where wild birds pose a threat to public health or safety and there is no satisfactory alternative, we may issue a licence to permit certain actions that might otherwise constitute an offence.

This may include situations where problems arise as a result of some bird species using houses and other buildings as nest sites.

Read our information note to find out:

  • what constitutes a public health and safety issue
  • the definition of a satisfactory alternative

Gulls - public health and safety

If gulls are causing a public health and safety risk, you should address the issue as soon as possible. If you don't, the risk may increase and a solution to the problem is less likely. Read our Guidance on gull management.

You can apply for a Gull (Public Health and Safety) Licence online using the online service. If you wish to apply for multiple sites, you will need to submit a separate application for each site.

The system only allows new applications to be submitted, issued and returns submitted. If you have previously held a licence for a site, you must submit a new application each year.

If you are unable to use the online application above, you can request an application form by emailing ([email protected]) or calling (01463 725364).  Please note this method of applying will take much longer for us to process.

The licensing of lethal control of Chicks and adults will continue to only be issued as a last resort.  We will only consider licensing lethal control when we are satisfied that:

  • The presence of chicks was unforeseen or unavoidable
  • the presence of chicks is causing a public health and safety issue
  • the is no satisfactory alternative left available to try
  • killing of chicks or adults is the last available solution

In the event of eggs hatching on a property which currently has a licence for nest and egg removal, a new licence or amendment to an existing licence for the lethal control of these chicks will only be granted if:

  • Chicks have been found in a location where they pose a risk to public health or safety and cannot be removed without significantly harming the bird.
  • A nest containing newly hatched chicks is at severe and likely risk of starting a fire, however in this case a licence for relocation within close vicinity of the nest site would be preferable to lethal control.

If neither are applicable then a licence for lethal control will not be granted.

You can provide returns for your gull health and safety licence online. Multiple returns can be submitted for each licence and these should be submitted as soon as possible after an activity is carried out.

You are required to submit regular activity returns throughout the licenced period, this allows:

  • Licence holders and applicants to record activities throughout the season and better detect if permitted numbers are likely to be exceeded.
  • NatureScot to fully consider any amendment requests based on activities carried out to date.
  • NatureScot to carry out compliance monitoring of licensed activities.

We welcome your thoughts on how we could improve the online application process. Use the Feedback link on the online Application or email us at the address below if you have any comments.

See our Gull identification & annual cycle guide.

Air safety

Birds may pose a risk to air safety. If you require a licence for this purpose please email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Your name and contact details
  • The site name and location
  • The bird species you wish to be licensed for

Other species or purposes

Where wild birds other than gulls pose a threat to public health or safety you can use our Licence application form to take or kill wild birds, their nests or eggs to apply for a licence.

Download the Licence application form – to take or kill wild birds, their nests or eggs

For some situations where birds pose a threat to public health and safety, you may instead use one of our general licences.  These cover relatively commonplace and low-risk situations, and you don't need to apply to use them.

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence. 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.  We must receive a return before we can renew a licence.

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.


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: