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

Public health and safety: Issues with nesting birds

Gulls - public health and safety

If gulls are causing, or expected to cause, 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.

It is now possible to apply for a Gull (Public Health and Safety) Licence online using the new service.  Each site that requires a licence must be applied for separately.

Currently the system only allows new applications to be submitted, issued and returns submitted. Any renewals from 2021 or earlier should be submitted as a new application.

If you are unable to use the online application above, you can contact us for an application form.  Please note this method of applying will take much longer for us to process.

We will not be licensing the killing of chicks from the start of the season.  We will only consider licensing this after the chicks have hatched and are satisfied that:

  • the presence of chicks is causing a public health and safety issue
  • all reasonable satisfactory alternatives have been tried
  • killing of chicks is the only solution

You can also provide returns for your gull health and safety licence online. You can submit multiple returns for each licence and these should be submitted as soon as possible after an activity is carried out. Submitting regular returns throughout the licence period 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: