Start now on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) website
You may need a wildlife licence to take photographs of wild birds or certain protected animals in Northern Ireland.
How to apply
Apply online on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) website.
You may need to provide evidence in support of your application, including examples of past photographic work. You must also provide details of any previous convictions for wildlife offences.
You may not need a licence in some circumstances, eg if you intend to erect a hide far enough away from a bird’s nest that it will not cause a disturbance.
Call NIEA’s Wildlife Inspectorate for advice if you’re not sure whether a licence is required.
Northern Ireland Environment Agency
028 9056 9557
Fees and charges
You don’t need to pay an application fee.
NIEA publishes a code of wildlife photography that is issued along with your licence.
Whether or not you need a licence, you should always try to obtain the landowner’s permission before taking photographs on their land. You should also follow their instructions, eg with regard to access routes.
Fines and penalties
You may be fined up to £5,000 or imprisoned if you commit an offence. Fines may also be increased if you disturb protected wild birds such as birds of prey, swans, terns or warblers.
It is a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly:
- disturb any wild bird when it is nest building or is in or near a nest containing eggs or young
- disturb the dependent young of such a wild bird
- damage or destroy, or obstruct access to, the shelter of a protected animal
- damage or destroy anything which conceals or protects the entrance to the shelter of a protected animal
- disturb a protected animal while it using such a shelter
Protected animals include badgers, pine martens, common newts, common lizards, freshwater mussels and certain species of butterfly.