Wood pigeon resting in a snowy tree

General licences for birds

General licences permit ‘authorised persons’ to perform certain actions affecting birds, which would otherwise be illegal, without individual licences.

We have made some changes to the General Licences.

These include changes to the species which are on certain licences. These changes came into effect on 1st  April 2020. What are the 2020 changes to the general licenses?

General licences cover relatively common situations where there’s unlikely to be any significant conservation impact. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific circumstances.

You don’t need to apply to use a general licence. But you must be sure that the licence is appropriate and that you meet the licence conditions in full. Abuse of, or failure to comply with, the conditions could constitute an offence.

General licences cover certain types of activity relating to birds, for example:

  • preserving public health
  • protecting air safety
  • preventing the spread of disease

General licences for 2020

Read our General licences for Birds valid for 2020.

If you are looking for General Licence 14/2020 for stoat trapping, you will find it on the Stoats - Licence forms and guidance page.

Our latest General Licence Consultation ended on 9 October 2019.  Read our report on the 2019 General Licensing Consultation.

On the back of the consultation we are making changes to our General Licences, which will be effective from 1st April 2020.

Read our General Licensing Changes Briefing for further information.

Read our General Licensing of Designated Sites update

Anyone intending to use a General Licence from 1st April 2020 on certain Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation must comply with site based standing conditions, covering disturbance of species and damage to habitats.  If you can meet the standing conditions then you can proceed with your activities without the need to contact us.  If you cannot meet the standing conditions set out for the site then you will need to apply for a permission by contacting our Licensing team at [email protected] or on 01463 725 364.

Trap registration

As of 1st April 2020 NatureScot Licensing will be taking over Trap Registration from Police Scotland.  In order to use traps under our General Licences you will be required to register with us.  Please see our Trap Registration page for further information.

Restrictions on use of general licences

NatureScot can prohibit the use of General Licences 01, 02 and 03 by certain persons and/or on certain areas of land, where we have reason to believe that wild birds have been taken or killed by such persons and/or on such land other than in accordance with the general licence.

For further information about our framework for implementing restrictions and the general licence restrictions we currently have in place, please see our 'General licences for birds - restrictions' page.

General licence returns

A condition of some general licences is that you must submit a licence return to us. The general licence will tell you what return information is required and how to submit it.

You should email licence returns to [email protected] in an appropriate format (e.g. table, spreadsheet). Enter ‘General licence return’ and the location details (e.g. Edinburgh Airport) in the subject line.

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Contact

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]