Non-native species licensing

You must apply for a licence if you wish to release or plant a non-native or former native species outside its native range.

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

It is an offence to:

  • release or allow to escape from captivity or otherwise cause any animal to be at a place outwith its native range
  • plant or otherwise cause to grow any plant outwith its native range

Unless you hold a licence from us, it’s also an offence to keep any invasive species of animal or plant listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Keeping and Release and Notification Requirements) Amendment Order 2012.

How to apply

To apply for a non-native species licence, email

To assess your application, we will consider:

  • the reason for your licence application – i.e. the need you aim to address
  • alternative solutions that wouldn’t require a licence – and why they’re not feasible
  • potential impacts – i.e. the risk of the species spreading into the wild, the effects if it did, and how you’ll minimise or manage this risk

Scottish Natural Heritage is the licensing authority for all non-native species. For some actions, you may also need permissions from other agencies such as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

We work closely with Forestry Commission Scotland to assess any forestry related proposals, e.g. to plant or allow natural regeneration in a wild area as part of a woodland creation or restocking scheme.

Conservation translocations

Conservation translocation proposals may also involve moving species, including former native species, beyond their native range.

In such cases, you should apply the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations.

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

Find out more

Data Protection notice

Licence Application Form - to register a non-native biological control agent as an 'Approved Product' on General Licence GL/NNS

Non-native species - General Licence GL/NNS - to release certain non-native species outwith their native range for use in the control of crop pests and diseases

Licence application