Guidance

Become a volunteer bat roost visitor

Find out what a volunteer bat roost visitor (VBRV) does and how to get trained and licenced to carry out bat roost visits.

The role

Natural England’s VBRVs visit bat roosts in homes, churches and other public buildings to:

  • reassure and educate people affected or distressed by bats
  • advise on timing and methods for building maintenance work and pest control
  • reduce the possibility of bats being excluded from their roosts

VBRVs play an important part in the conservation of bat species. Find out more about the role in the summary of Natural England's bat advice service contract (PDF, 73.2KB, 8 pages) with the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT).

How to become a VBRV

You need a level 1 VBRV bat class licence to carry out bat roost visits for Natural England. To gain this you must be trained by a trainer with a level 2 VBRV bat class licence. For more information see bats: protection and licences.

You must be at least 18 years old to train for a VBRV class licence.

Find a trainer

Before registering as a trainee VBRV you must find a registered and licensed trainer who’s willing to train you. Contact your local bat group to see if they have a trainer. If you’re unsuccessful Natural England can try to find a trainer for you but cannot guarantee to do so.

VBRV trainers will use their experience and judgement to decide if they can train you. They should give you a clear and reasonable explanation for their decision if they do not want to take you on. If you’re not satisfied with this explanation please email batvolunteers@naturalengland.org.uk.

Register as a trainee

When you’ve found a trainer, register as a trainee VBRV by completing the expression of interest form. You’ll then receive your email induction pack and an invitation to a telephone induction conversation.

Vaccination against rabies

You do not need vaccination against rabies if you’re a trainee VBRV.

If you’re a level 1 or 2 licensed VBRV, you must complete a course of vaccinations against rabies before visiting roosts. You must get regular boosters whilst you remain a VBRV.

You can get vaccinated at your doctor’s surgery.

You can claim for any surgery charge for administering the vaccinations. See ‘Claim out-of-pocket expenses’ on Natural England’s volunteer’s support directory for more information.

Training for a VBRV licence

You’ll accompany your trainer and other VBRVs on a number of roost visits until you’ve the right knowledge, skills and experience to gain your licence.

Health and safety training is compulsory and consists of 4 modules which are emailed to you (with an associated online test) and include:

  • asbestos awareness
  • risk management
  • working at heights
  • dealing with aggression and violence

If you’ve done equivalent health and safety training elsewhere, Natural England will consider this in lieu of the 4 modules.

The time it takes to be trained depends on:

  • ability
  • prior experience
  • number and frequency of available roost visits

You will not be granted a licence if you do not reach the level of competence or skill required.

Register for your VBRV licence

You must hold a licence to carry out bat roost visits. See level 1 VBRV bat class licence for more details about registering.

A level 1 VBRV bat class licence only covers your official duties as a VBRV carried out under Natural England’s bat advice service. It does not cover any other activities, whether carried out in a voluntary or paid capacity. For details about licences for other activities see bats: protection, surveys and licences.

Further information

See the bat workers’ manual for information on:

  • bat protection law
  • guidance on handling and identifying bats

Contact Natural England

Contact Natural England at batvolunteers@naturalengland.org.uk for:

  • further information on becoming a VBRV
  • forms and advice
  • current health and safety information
Published 15 December 2008
Last updated 31 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Update to rabies advice

  2. Updated summary of bat advice service contract.

  3. First published.