Protected invertebrate species and licensing

We may license activities that would otherwise constitute an offence against protected invertebrates – insects, spiders, worms, crustaceans and molluscs.

The freshwater pearl mussel and marsh fritillary butterfly are among the invertebrates fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

Find out about freshwater pearl mussels and licensing.

Learn below about licensing in relation to the other invertebrate species listed on Schedule 5 of the Act (some of which receive only partial protection).

View the list of all Schedule 5 protected species, including invertebrates.

Surveys and research

You should apply to us for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence in relation to protected invertebrate species.

To apply for a licence for survey, conservation, scientific, research or educational purposes, email [email protected].

You should include in your email:

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.

Social, economic or environmental purposes

We can license activities for social, economic or environmental reasons (including development) that might affect Schedule 5 invertebrate species, as long as:

  • the licensed activity will contribute to significant social, economic or environmental benefit
  • there is no satisfactory alternative
  • there will be no significant negative impact on the conservation status of the species

Read the guidance on Licences for social, economic or environmental purposes

Read the guidance on Test 2 – No satisfactory alternative

If Schedule 5 invertebrates are likely to be present on or near to a site, we strongly recommend that a suitably experienced person conducts a survey. Where any protected invertebrates are found, a species protection plan should be drawn up.

To apply for a licence to work with protected invertebrate species for social, economic or environmental reasons, email [email protected].

You should email us the same information and reference form as required for a survey licence.

Licensing for other purposes

Contact us if you wish to apply for a licence for any other purpose in relation to protected invertebrate species. This includes preserving public health and safety or preventing serious damage to property.

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.

Find out more

Data Protection notice

Accompanying notes for survey and monitoring licences


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: