Environmental management – guidance

Wildlife licences

Get a licence for activities that affect wildlife in England.

You may need a licence if you want to disturb or remove wildlife in England, or damage habitats.

You’ll need to have a good reason, for example:

  • to prevent damage to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, property, or archaeology
  • to protect public health and safety (including air safety)
  • to carry out maintenance and development of land
  • for science, education and conservation
  • to prevent disease amongst species
  • to keep or release non-native species
  • to sell, own, exhibit, or transport protected species

The activities you can get a licence for vary from species to species.

You can be fined up to £5,000 and get up to 6 months in prison if you don’t have a licence when carrying out an activity that needs one.

Types of licence

There are 3 basic types of licence. You’ll need to apply for each type differently.

General licences

You don’t need to apply for a general licence, but you must:

  • be eligible to use them
  • follow the rules given in each licence
  • submit an annual report to Natural England if required

See the full list of general licences available.

Class licences

For each class licence you must:

  • register with Natural England to use that licence
  • be eligible to use the licence
  • follow the rules given in each licence
  • submit records and annual reports if required

How you register, and how long it takes, depends on the licence. For some you’ll need to complete a registration form. Registration usually takes around 15 days.

See the full list of class licences available.

Individual licences

You need to apply for individual licences, and may need to provide references or proof that you’re qualified for this licence.

It usually takes 30 working days to get an individual licence.

Licences generally last for 1 year. You can sometimes apply for an extension by contacting Natural England.

How to apply

For licences that require you to submit an application or registration form, you can apply:

  • by post or fax
  • online (if you need to apply for several licences)

The sign up process for applying for licences online can be time consuming and you will need a Government Gateway account. If you just want 1 licence, you will find it quicker to apply by post or fax.

Apply online

If you regularly need class or individual licences you may want to sign up to use the online application system.

You’ll need a Government Gateway account to log in.

Before you start

The process is different if you’ve never used the service before.

  1. Register with Natural England.

  2. You’ll be sent a letter in the post asking you to send proof of your identity.

  3. You’ll get your documents back.

  4. Register with Government Gateway (if you don’t already have an account).

  5. Log in and select ‘CWM’ as a service you’d like to use after you’ve logged in.

If you’ve already registered and have a Government Gateway login, you can sign in.

Apply by post or email

Find the licence or application form you need:

Keep or release non-native species

You must get a licence to keep or release non-native species in England, Scotland and Wales:

Non-native species are:

Release a non-native species

It’s an offence to allow a non-native species to escape into the wild, or release it, if you don’t have a licence.

You must apply for a licence to release non-native species.

Keep mink, grey squirrel and coypu

You must apply for a licence to keep mink, grey squirrel and coypu for exhibition, science and education purposes

These licences last for 5 years.

Keep non-native bumblebees

You must get a licence to keep non-native subspecies of bumblebee in commercial glasshouses or poly-tunnels for crop pollination

Get help

Contact Natural England wildlife licensing.

Wildlife Licensing
Natural England
First Floor
Temple Quay House
2 The Square

Natural England Wildlife Management and Licensing
General queries and wildlife management licensing: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk
European protected species mitigation licensing: eps.mitigation@naturalengland.org.uk
Science and conservation licensing: wildlife.scicons@naturalengland.org.uk
0845 601 4523
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm
Find out about call charges
Fax: 0845 601 3438