Natural England - Bats


Advice and legislation relating to bats.

bat large image
Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) © John Black

Legal protection

All species of bat and their breeding sites or resting places (roosts) are protected under Regulation 41 of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010external link and Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981external link. It is an offence for anyone intentionally to kill, injure or handle a bat, to possess a bat (whether live or dead), disturb a roosting bat, or sell or offer a bat for sale without a licence. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by bats for shelter, whether they are present or not.

More information on European Protected Species

Advice and leaflets

Advice leafletSummaryAudience
Bats in churchesexternal link - TIN043Understanding legal obligation of those looking after churches used by batsEcologists, surveyors, church wardens
Bat Mitigation Guidelinesexternal link - IN136Impact assessment and mitigation plans advice for land-use planning and development where bats are known or suspected Planners, consultants, developers
Bat Workers Manualexternal link (JNCC)Information on bat ecology, legal status and licensingBat workers/volunteers, ecologists
Focus on bats: discovering their lifestyle and habitatsexternal link - NE23Frequently asked questions about batsGeneral public
Bats and human health: (107kb)pdf documentAdvice and disease risks from batsGeneral public, bat workers/volunteers
Bats: European Protected Speciesexternal link - SIN010best practice advice for farming and forestry on bat protectionFarmers, foresters
Bats: Remedial timber treatment products suitable for use in bat roostsexternal link - TIN092Approved list of remedial timber treatment chemicals and other safe products where bats roostHouseholders, builders, bat workers/volunteers
Bats in traditional buildingsexternal link (National Trust)Includes: biology of bats; legal protection; works that affect bats; best practice for historic buildingsHouseholders, builders
Bats and onshore wind turbinesexternal link - TIN051Impact on bats when assessing proposals for wind turbinesDevelopers, consultants, planners
Bat roosts and insecticide pest control productsexternal link - TIN146Guidance on approved insecticides to be used where there are bat roosts (e.g. cluster-fly treatments, wasp and bee control). For timber treatments see TIN 092external linkHouseholders, builders, consultants

Specific licensing guidance is included below in 'Licences and how to apply' next to the relevant application form

Licences and how to apply

Licences for activities prohibited under wildlife legislation are only issued for specific purposes, where there is valid justification. Your activity may be possible under a General licence or Class licence detailed below but you must ensure you are eligible and abide by their conditions.

Otherwise please apply for an individual tailored licence, each form below explains what you must provide. Licences and advice are provided free of charge (some exceptions). See our licences page for more information on: who needs a licence, what types there are and how long they take to obtain.

Class survey licences for bats

DescriptionWho can use this?How to register/report

WML-CL17 – (Level 1) to survey bats by ‘observation’ only (including the use of artificial light but not endoscopes): (245kb)pdf document

WML-CL18 – (Level 2) to survey bats using artificial light, endoscopes, hand and hand-held static nets.: (248kb)pdf document

WML-CL19 – (Level 3) using artificial light, endoscopes, hand, hand-held static nets and mist nets and acoustic lures: (253kb)pdf document

WML-CL20 – (Level 4) using artificial light, endoscopes, hand, hand-held static nets and harp traps and acoustic lures: (252kb)pdf document

Guidance on capture and marking of bats under the authority of a Natural England licence: (180kb)external link

Bat Class Licence FAQs: (295kb)pdf document

Any person registered with Natural England may use this licence

Please use application form WML-A34: (172kb)word document to register

Licence report form WML-LR-CL17-18-19-20: (120kb)word document

Template for References: (74kb)word document

Bat volunteer class licences

DescriptionWho can use this?How to register/report
WML-CL15 – (Level 1) to undertake activities for the conservation of bats whilst on official duties under the Bat Advice Contract: (256kb)pdf document

WML-CL 16 – (Level 2) to undertake activities for the conservation of bats whilst on official duties under the Bat Advice Contract and to train unlicensed volunteer bat roost visitors: (258kb)pdf document 

Bat Class Licence FAQs: (295kb)pdf document

Any registered volunteer bat roost visitor, with Natural England, may use this licence to undertake official duties under the Bat Advice Contract

Please use application form WML-A34: (172kb)word document to register

Licence report form WML-LR-CL15–16 to be used to confirm the wish to remain registered: (199kb)word document

Mitigation licences

Application formGuidanceReport/Renewal
Bat species in respect of development or public health and safety, damage or disease only.

Please note all 4 sections must be completed with each new application 
(e.g. barn conversions with maternity bat roosts present).

Template for References: (74kb)word document

European protected species – how to get a licence: WML-G12: (1.03mb)pdf document
If you wish to apply for an EPS Mitigation licence, please read this guidance first. It explains the information you must provide and why, and it will help you understand the process.

Bat mitigation guidelinesexternal link

Annexed licence frequently asked questions: (292kb)pdf document

Experience in bat mitigation: Guidance for ecologists: (179kb)pdf document

Providing unnecessary “over-mitigation/compensation” will not secure a mitigation licence: (69kb)pdf document

Guidance - Economic downturn & EPS mitigation licensing: (214kb)pdf document

EPS licensing and planningexternal link

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) and EPS: (483kb)pdf document

Report: (216kb)word document

Possession and sale licences 

These licenses allow legal possession of dead specimens for educational, scientific or disease purposes. There is no need to register for a General Licence

General Licences descriptionWho can use this?How to register
For possession of dead specimens by members of the Guild of Taxidermists WML-GL02: (129kb)pdf document
Annex IV species list: (148kb)pdf document
Members of the Guild of TaxidermistsN/A
For people submitting bats to the VLA for Rabies testing WML-GL03: (109kb)pdf documentAnyone (If you cannot be covered by a general licence you may need to apply for an individual licence for possession or sale - see below)N/A
Individual Licences descriptionGuidanceReport/renewal
EPS possession application form WML-A37: (426kb)pdf document (e.g. Non accredited museum holding EPS specimens acquired after 10 June 1994)

Guidance on possession, sale, transport and exchange of Annex IV species: (176kb)pdf document

You may not need to apply for a specific licence see general licence for possession

EPS sale application form WML-A38: (426kb)pdf document (all species) (e.g. collector selling EPS specimen)
Annex IV species list: (148kb)pdf document
WML-LR38: (208kb)word document

Research project licences


Bat species for science, education or conservation only WML-A34: (172kb)word document(e.g. surveys, research and bat roost visitor work)
Template for references: (74kb)word document

Guidance on references for applicants: (47kb)pdf document
Guidance on capture and marking of bats under the authority of a Natural England licence: (180kb)pdf document.
Report online: (107kb)word document

Enforcement and inspection

Please see our main enforcement and inspection page for more information.

Disease risk in bats

Rabies in bats

White-nose syndrome advice for batworkers

The Bat Conservation Trust in conjunction with Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, revised the white-nose syndrome guidance for bat workers in the UK and the Isle of Man.

This guidance has been divided into sections that define what is being asked of licensed and unlicensed bat workers undertaking hibernation and swarming surveys. We ask that all individuals visiting underground sites familiarise themselves with this guidance, particularly the sample protocols and decontamination advice. We also suggest regularly checking the Bat Conservation Trustexternal link website, to keep up to date with suspect cases under investigation.

Contact us

  • for general advice on bats, including bats in your home or church, please contact the Bat Advice service - via our contractors - the Bat Conservation Trust on 0845 1300 228 (from a mobile phone: 020 7735 6663 office hours only), email or visit the Bat Conservation Trustexternal link website
  • for licensing related queries contact us

Further information