How to register a bird listed on Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act

Guidance on how to register a bird listed on Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and how to correctly mark the bird.


Under Section 7 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, any captive bird of a species listed in Schedule 4 of the Act (as amended) must be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

If you keep any of the birds in the list, you must inform APHA and tell us the address at which the bird is being kept, even though you may not be the owner.

All birds listed on Schedule 4 must be fitted with a unique closed leg ring, microchip, or have a licence to be kept without a closed ring or a microchip.

Which birds must be registered

The following birds are listed in Schedule 4 and must be registered.

Name Name
Pernis apivorus Honey Buzzard
Aquila chrysaetos Eagle, Golden
Haliaeetus albicilla Eagle, White-tailed
Falco peregrinus Falcon, Peregrine
Accipter gentilis Goshawk
Circus aeruginosus Harrier, Marsh
Circus pygargus Harrier, Montagu’s
Falco columbarius Merlin
Pandion haliaetus Osprey

Please note that you are not required to register hybrids of these species.

Who must register the bird

If you keep a bird listed on Schedule 4, or have such a bird in your possession or control, you are classified as the ‘keeper’, even if you are not the owner of the bird. You must immediately register the bird in your name and inform us of the address at which it is kept.

It is a keeper’s responsibility to ensure that a bird listed on Schedule 4 is correctly registered. The ownership of a bird is irrelevant for registration, and the owner should not apply for registration if the bird is kept by someone else.

How to register a bird

Most keepers will obtain a bird from someone who has, or should have, already registered the bird in their own name. If the previous keeper has a blue registration document it should be passed on with the bird, and the new keeper is advised to check that the bird’s details on the document (e.g. sex, species, ring number, etc) match the bird before taking possession. The document will also state the name and address of the registered keeper.

The back of the registration document serves as a registration application form for the new keeper. This must be completed and sent with the £17.00 transfer fee to Centre for International Trade (CIT) - Bristol. If you are not given a registration document when you acquire a bird, you must complete this application form.

The previous keeper should notify CIT - Bristol of the transfer by detaching the disposal slip at the bottom of the registration document, completing it with the new keeper’s details and returning it to us as soon as the bird changes hands.


Registration of Schedule 4 birds

Registration of a Schedule 4 bird for commercial use

Registration of captive bred chicks and ring numbers

Licence application to keep a wild bird without a ring

Avian wildlife: casualty veterinary examination certificate

Licence application to keep a wild disabled bird

Chicks bred in captivity

All captive bred chicks must be initially registered as soon as they are ringed or micro-chipped. Complete the application form and send with the required initial registration fee to CIT - Bristol.

Registration of Peregrines and Merlins

Peregrine Falcons and Merlins must be registered with a blue registration document unless CIT - Bristol has already issued a valid Article 10 CITES certificate.

Article 10 certificates issued by other EU Member States are not valid for registration purposes.

If a Peregrine or Merlin is covered by a valid Article 10 Certificate issued by the UK, then the bird is already registered and there is no need to re-apply for registration in your own name.

For further information on Article 10 certificates, please visit our pages about CITES and endangered species.

Unregistered birds, imported birds and birds of unknown origin

All imported birds that are listed on Schedule 4 must be registered with us by completing this application form and by paying the required fee. This form is also used to register birds in the following instances:

  • bird of unknown origin
  • registering bird where blue registration document is missing and
  • for first registration of birds.

This includes Peregrines and Merlins covered for CITES purposes with an Article 10 issued by another EU country, as this certificate is not valid for registration purposes within the UK. Birds other than Peregrines and Merlins must be registered with a blue registration document.

All Schedule 4 birds are listed on CITES and therefore imported birds will be registered with their CITES compliant ring or microchip number.

Wild disabled birds listed on Schedule 4

You must register disabled wild birds as soon as they come into your keepership. If the bird is to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild within a short period of time it does not need to be marked and will be registered with a UR licence (i.e. a licence to keep a bird without a unique identifier) for a set period. If the bird is so disabled that a vet considers it is likely to remain in captivity permanently, it must be fitted with a microchip transponder and registered with that number. You should contact CIT - Bristol for the correct application form.

Our policy is to only issue Article 10s for wild disabled birds in exceptional circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please contact CIT - Bristol for advice.

When registration ends

You are advised to familiarise yourself with the circumstances set out below when registration ends automatically, and what you should do to ensure you comply with the law.

Registration ends when:

  • The permanent address where the bird is kept changes - return the registration document to CIT - Bristol with details of the new address and the date from when the bird will be kept there. A new registration document will be issued to you. See the section below for guidance on what to do if the change of address is only temporary.

  • The bird dies or is released - return the registration document and DOE ring (if fitted) with details of when the bird died or was permanently released.

  • The bird escapes - you should telephone CIT - Bristol to make arrangements for contacting you if the bird is found by someone else. If the bird is not recaptured within a few days, you must return the registration document, with a note of explanation. If you recover the bird at a later date, you must immediately register the bird with CIT - Bristol. There is no charge for this.

  • The bird is exported - return the blue registration document and confirm the export date. You may need to keep the bird ringed with the closed ring for export to the importing country.

  • The closed ring is removed or the writing or numbering ceases to be legible - inform CIT - Bristol that the ring is no longer legible, or was removed, have the bird microchipped and return the registration document to CIT - Bristol so the bird can be registered with the microchip number. It is important that the bird is micro-chipped by a veterinarian at the same time as the ring is removed if you intend to use it commercially.

  • The bird is permanently passed to another keeper - complete the tear-off slip at the bottom of the registration document with details of the new keeper, and return the slip to CIT - Bristol. If the bird is a Peregrine or Merlin and is registered under an Article 10 certificate, you do not need to provide these details to CIT - Bristol.

Temporary change of address or keeper

Short term or temporary changes of address, or keepership, does not necessarily affect registration. You are advised to check with us before the bird moves location.

Registration does not end automatically if:

  1. the bird is kept by its registered keeper but is no longer kept at its registered address as long as the bird goes back to its usual address within three weeks. Before the bird is moved, CIT - Bristol must be notified in writing of the details of the new address and the date from which it will be kept there, or

  2. the bird is kept by a person other than its registered keeper, as long as it is to be returned to its original keeper within a specified period:

  • where the bird is kept at a different address for up to three weeks

  • where the bird is at the same address but kept by a different person for up to six weeks

Penalties for non-registration

It is an offence not to register a bird listed on Schedule 4. If convicted the maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine for each offence, and the forfeiture of the bird concerned. Conviction also makes it an offence to keep any birds listed on schedule 4 for five years.

Wildlife inspectors may carry out unannounced inspections to check that any bird listed on schedule 4 are correctly registered and ringed. All inspectors carry an identity card that must be shown to the keeper before the start of an inspection, and in line with wildlife inspectors: code of practice and statement of service (PDF, 211KB, 7 pages) .

Bird markings

All birds listed on Schedule 4 must be registered with a unique identification number. The purpose of this mark is to identify the bird and it does not necessarily mean that the bird was legally acquired, or is legally registered or captive bred.

Captive bred birds must be fitted with closed rings soon after hatching. Breeders must get these rings from their own ring suppliers, and ensure they are marked with a unique identification number. To ensure the number is unique, breeders can include a postcode, their own initials, a telephone number, or the year the bird was hatched etc.

If there are physical or behavioral reasons why a bird cannot be close-ringed, it must be fitted with a microchip which complies with ISO Standards 11784:1996 [E] and 11785:1996 [E]. This is a microchip with a 15 digit code number. Keepers may decide to fit both a closed ring and a microchip, and both can be shown on the registration document.

If you fit different sized rings to a bird to account for gender variation in leg size and later remove one ring once a birds sex is known you should return the registration document to CIT - Bristol with an explanation. An amended registration document will then be issued.

If a bird cannot be ringed or microchipped, the keeper must apply to CIT - Bristol for a licence to keep the registered bird unmarked. These licences are issued for a stated period, on the understanding that the bird will be microchipped before the licence expires. The bird will be registered with the licence number ‘UR’ followed by five digits (eg. UR99999). Licences for birds kept in Scotland begin with URS, and those in Wales begin with URW.

It is very unusual for a captive-bred Schedule 4 bird not to be wearing a ring unless it is licensed to be kept un-ringed, or it is fitted with a microchip transponder. If you are offered an unmarked bird you are advised to ask carefully about its registration and origin.


Schedule of fees payable

Non-club members Fee
Registration of new birds £20
Transfers (payable by recipient) £17
Recognised club members Fee
Registration of new birds £14
Transfers (payable by recipient) £17
Zoos Fee
Registration of new birds £14
Transfers (payable by recipient) £17 for every bird received from non-BIAZA members, no charge if received from BIAZA members

All payments should be made in pounds sterling. Please do not send cash. Fees are payable on application. Applications will not be processed until the correct fee is paid.

Fees can be paid by:

  • cheque made payable to APHA
  • postal order (you should keep the counterfoils for your own records)
  • credit card - contact our Central Finance Department on 01904 455395 or All major credit and debit cards are accepted except American Express
  • BACS (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services), phone 0117 372 8774 for further information

Please note that the reduced fees apply only to members of such clubs who participate in the club inspection scheme. Members of recognised clubs who do not wish to be included in their club’s inspection scheme must pay fees at the non-club rates.


Centre for International Trade - Bristol
Animal and Plant Health Agency
1/7 Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol, BS1 6EB

Tel: +44 (0) 117 372 8774
Fax: +44 (0) 117 372 8206