Hold a bird gathering under the general licence

What counts as a bird gathering, and the conditions you must meet to hold a gathering under the general licence.

You don’t need to apply for the bird gatherings general licence.

The bird gatherings general licence was updated on 27 November 2018. Bird gatherings are permitted, subject to some specific identity and health checks and biosecurity measures. Our avian influenza (bird flu) guidance gives more details on current disease risks.

You can hold a bird gathering (a gathering of poultry or any other birds kept in captivity, including birds kept as pets) under this licence as long as

  • you meet the conditions of the licence
  • you give the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) at least 7 days’ notice

The licence is not available (that is, you can’t hold a gathering) in an avian disease control zone (Protection Zone, Surveillance Zone).

You could be prosecuted if you don’t meet the licence conditions. Your permission to operate under this licence could be suspended or withdrawn.

What counts as a bird gathering

Gatherings include (but are not limited to) bird fairs, markets, shows, sales, exhibitions, vehicles used for pigeon racing and some premises used for dealing or internet sales.

You should read the notes to the licence where we have set out full details of what counts as a bird gathering (and what doesn’t).

Notify APHA

You must notify your local APHA Office at least 7 days before a bird gathering. You’ll need to give them the following details:

  • date (or range of dates) of the gathering
  • location of gathering (full postal address and postcode, and CPH number (if applicable))
  • types and numbers of birds expected
  • purpose of the gathering (for example, show, sale, racing
  • your name, address and contact number, and an email address and mobile number if you have them

APHA will tell the local authority about the gathering.

Keep records for 3 months

You must keep records of bird gatherings for at least 3 months after each event, including:

  • name, address and contact number of anyone moving birds to and from the gathering
  • types and numbers of birds exhibited, raced, bought or sold at the gathering

APHA or the local authority may ask you for this information.

Prevent disease spreading

You must take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of notifiable avian disease onto, within and off the premises where the gathering is held. This includes sending biosecurity advice to all participants before the event.

You must comply with the requirements which are included in the licence (in particular in paragraphs 6-10 and 15).

Avian influenza risk

Defra or APHA could withdraw this licence immediately if the risk of the spread of avian influenza (bird flu) increases.

If there is an outbreak in the country the general licence will be withdrawn in the disease controlled zones. You’ll be told if your planned gathering is in the zone.

Tell APHA if you suspect your birds have a notifiable avian disease.

Contact APHA

Contact your local APHA office if you want advice on bird gatherings or you suspect avian influenza or any other notifiable avian disease.

Published 14 May 2015
Last updated 5 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Page now available in the Welsh language

  2. Updated licence published: gatherings are not banned in the Higher Risk Areas put in place today. Definition of ‘vehicle’ added to licence.

  3. Updated licence published: gatherings are not banned under the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone arrangements put in place in England today.

  4. Updated notes as the Prevention Zone in certain areas of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside has now been lifted.

  5. Updated with the new general licence which applies from 15 May 2017.

  6. Updated with plans to lift the ban on gatherings, across England from 15 May, except in certain areas of Lancashire and Cumbria.

  7. Updated following the announcement that the ban on poultry gatherings will be lifted on 15 May 2017.

  8. We've added more information about what does or doesn't count as a bird gathering.

  9. We've added some clearer information about what does or doesn't count as a bird gathering.

  10. Added biosecurity advice for bird gathering organisers (licencees) and participants.

  11. Updated following the announcement of a temporary suspension on certain bird gatherings from 20 December 2016.

  12. Removed reference to vet assessment as this is a general licence and is therefore not carried out on a case-by-case-basis.

  13. First published.