General licences for birds

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

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 2018

Read our General licences for Birds valid for 2018

Restrictions on use of general licences

Scottish Natural Heritage 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.

Our framework for implementing restrictions details how we will consider evidence and put restrictions in place. Current restrictions in place are:

General licences for goose management pilots

Managing geese has become a focus where populations have grown in size.

General licences for goose management pilots in Orkney, the Uists and Lewis and Harris permit the sale of goose meat arising from the pilots. 

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 in an appropriate format (e.g. table, spreadsheet). Enter ‘General licence return’ and the location details (e.g. Edinburgh Airport) in the subject line.


Licensing Team
Telephone: 01463 725 364