Newts and toads: licences for surveys and research

You’ll usually need a licence to survey great crested newts or natterjack toads as most of the common survey methods disturb animals.


We think that only about one-sixth of all great crested newt breeding ponds in the UK have been identified. Natterjack toad populations are also likely to be under-recorded.

You will require a licence to use the most common survey methods for great crested newts, including:

  • torching
  • egg searches
  • terrestrial searches
  • netting
  • bottle-trapping

You don’t need a licence to conduct eDNA sampling, however.

The most common survey methods for natterjack toads include:

  • terrestrial searches
  • egg searches
  • netting
  • listening out for their distinctive call

You’re likely to require a licence from us to use all but the last of these techniques to search for natterjack toads.

Licences are only granted where there’s no satisfactory alternative. This is one of the three strict European protected species licensing tests that must be met.

Science, research, education and conservation

You should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to great crested newts and natterjack toads.

How to apply

To apply for a licence for survey purposes, fill in the application form and email it to [email protected].

Download the Licence application form – amphibian survey

You shouldn't complete the form if you already hold an equivalent licence with Natural England or Natural Resources Wales.  Instead, email [email protected] and we'll ask the agency for a reference.

In your email, let us know:

- you name, address and telephone number
- what type of licence you're applying to us for
- the name of the agency that issued your existing licence
- the licence number

Our standard survey licences cover disturbance and the taking of great crested newts by hand, net or funnel trap.  If you need to be licensed for another activity, such as pitfall traps, you must:

- be licenced for it by Natural England or Natural Resources Wales
- provide us with two references specific to this activity using our licence application reference form.

To apply for a licence for scientific, research or educational work, or for conservation purposes, email us at the same address with:

If this is your first licence application for this activity, we’ll need two references from you. Your referees should be familiar with your work in this area and able to vouch for your competence.

Licence returns

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

Newt and toad survey licence return information should be submitted to us using our great crested newt or natterjack toad survey return forms. Email us your completed form, giving your name and licence number in the subject line.

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.


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
Telephone: 01463 725 364
Email: [email protected]

Find out more

Accompanying notes for survey and monitoring licences

Data Protection notice

Guidance on trapping great crested newts

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