Otters: licences for land management

Land managers must consider any structures used by otters, which are protected even when not in use.

Otters spend much, but not all, of their time in water. They’re found all around Scotland’s coast and throughout inland rivers and lochs and even in our biggest cities. But they also use land well away from water, where structures can provide the shelter and protection important for otters.

Structures used by otters include:

  • natural cavities formed by tree roots
  • man-made structures with gaps – e.g. sea defences and bridges

Most land management practices are unlikely to affect otters or their holts, couches or other places of shelter. But you should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to otters.

A licence can only be granted if you can meet the three strict European protected species licensing tests.

How to apply

Fill in the application form and email it to [email protected].

Download the Licence application form – works affecting otters

Read the Guidance notes for application for a licence for European protected species

Read the Guidance notes on providing supporting information for a licence for European protected species

Licence returns

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

You should submit your return information using our licence return form for works affecting otters. 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

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