Bat licences for surveys and conservation work

You will need a licence if you plan to carry out any kind of survey, research or conservation work that may result in:

  • disturb, capture, or handle bats
  • carry out marking of bats
  • damage, modify or obstruct access to a breeding or resting place
  • disturb bats for the purpose of photography or filming

Apply for a survey licence

If you want to apply for a survey licence and have not had one before, you will need to show that you have the necessary training and experience. You will need to submit your completed licence and training logbook proforma with your survey and conservation licence application form.

Reference form

If you have not held a relevant licence from us before, your application must include a reference form.

Referees must be:

  • able to comment on their experience of working with the relevant species
  • their ability to use the methods and equipment proposed within your licence application
  • qualified themselves and must have held a relevant licence before
  • must have experience of your work for at least one survey season

We can only accept one reference from the company you currently work for. We may contact your referees to verify their statements.

Apply for a research project licence

We can issue licences for advanced survey and marking techniques, including:

  • capture using harp traps and mist nets
  • use of acoustic lures
  • fitting rings
  • fitting radio-tracking tags

Licences will be issued for specific sites and are for a limited period. Licensing these more invasive techniques requires a detailed scientific project method statement.

If you have not previously held a licence for the activities, methods or techniques requested, you will need to demonstrate appropriate training and considerable experience before a licence may be issued. Experience can be logged using licence and training logbook proforma which must be either endorsed by your trainer or be supported by a suitable referee.

Apply for a roost conservation licence

If you plan to carry out any conservation work, such as modifying roosting sites, primarily for the benefit of bats, you will need to complete the survey and conservation licence application form.
You must provide detailed information on the proposed works, including:
  • a method statement
  • diagrams showing clearly all modifications
  • location map and/or GIS layer
  • details of available survey results
  • evidence to support the purpose of the work
  • copies of any permissions or consents associated with the application
  • any relevant correspondence if the work falls within or near a designated site

Photographing and filming bats

You must apply for a licence using the survey and conservation licence application form if you are specifically disturbing bats or entering bat roosts to take photos or to film bats.

We only grant licences where there is a clear need for the photographs or filming to take place.

Only experienced photographers who can demonstrate that they can cause minimal disturbance to bats will be granted a licence.

Professional photographers and filmmakers must name a bat consultant or volunteer bat worker on their licence application. The bat consultant or volunteer will advise you if you have the necessary experience or training and appropriate methods to use.

It is not necessary for consultants to photograph bats in roosts to demonstrate their presence in survey reports.

When you don’t need a licence to photograph bats

A licence to photograph or film bats is not required if the photography causes no extra disturbance, for example:

  • non-flash photography in roosts while bats are present as part of a licensed survey and if using only natural light or low-level artificial light
  • flash photography in roosts and hibernacula if bats are not present
  • photography of bats caught in traps during licensed survey work
  • flash photography of individual or groups of bats for identification purposes. Where the licensed surveyor considers that this will cause less disturbance than handling or prolonged illumination of bats
  • photographing of filming of bats outside roosts where no additional lighting is used, or only infra-red illumination is used

Who can apply for a licence

Find out who can apply for a protected species licence

Renew your licence and report on your activities

If you want to renew your licence or report on the activities you have carried out under your licence, you will need to complete the survey licence reporting and renewal application form.

Amend your licence

You can ask for amendments to your licence using the relevant forms.

Amendment request form
Change of licensee
Change of ecologist form

Contact us

You can contact us for help at any time before or during your licence application.

Explore more

Last updated