A wildlife licence gives a person permission to carry out an activity affecting an animal or plant that would otherwise be illegal. Licences are only issued for certain purposes, which are set down in the law, and only where there is a valid justification.
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A licence is required by anyone who wishes to carry out an activity prohibited under wildlife legislation. For example:
If your activity is not covered by a General licence or Class licence you need to apply for an Individual tailored licence (see 'types of licence' below).
For some licensed activities (e.g. surveys, certain research activities or implementing mitigation works in relation to developments), you may be required to provide information or references demonstrating your technical expertise. The relevant application form will explain what you need to provide.
Find a full list of our application forms if you wish to apply for several different licences.
Find advice, licenses and application forms by individual species if you are concerned with a specific species.
We will aim to provide a licence or refusal (including an explanation) within 30 working days. In certain emergency situations, we issue licences more quickly. You may not assume that consent has been granted if you do not receive a response within 30 working days. Most licences and general advice are provided free of charge. The relevant application form will give full guidance. (see how to apply above)
Natural England has introduced a new chargeable pre-submission screening service offering an enhanced level of advice for European Protected Species mitigation licensing.
All other advice and guidance in relation to species licensing and licences are presently provided free of charge.
All licences are time-limited and generally require a report of activities completed. If you are unable to complete an activity before a licence expires you should contact us as soon as possible to renew or extend your licence.
Please note: extensions cannot be issued once a licence expires and a new licence will need to be issued. To avoid any delays that reissuing may cause please ensure that you request any extension or licence modification before the licence expires.
If you need renew a licence for an ongoing activity (e.g. to manage a problem species) then you can request a renewal when you submit your report of action taken under licence. Repeat licences are issued at the time of year they will be required so you may not receive your renewed licence within the 30-day timeframe set out above.
You may not assume that consent has been granted if you do not receive a response within 30 working days. This is because wildlife licences permit activities that are ordinarily unlawful and which can only be permitted if certain legal tests aimed at protecting the environment and the welfare of wild animals are satisfied. If you proceed without a licence then you may commit an offence. Please note that most wildlife offences carry a maximum penalty of £5000 and / or 6 months in prison.
If any information required to assess your application is missing or incorrect then the ‘clock’ will be stopped while we will contact you to obtain the information.
Where it is not appropriate to issue a licence for the activity requested then we will write to you to explain this.
In certain situations, for example emergences, we can issue licences more quickly. If timing is an issue for any reason, please contact Customer Services Wildlife Licensing for advice.