All the latest news and advice concerning general licences and how they affect you.

General licences in England are currently issued by Natural England. You do not need to apply to use a general licence, but you are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions.

Below are links to the current general licences that are valid until 31 December 2023:

Valid until 31 December 2023

Where there is a need to manage or control wildlife and such activity is not covered by a relevant general licence then an individual or specific licence may be applied for. Find out more information.

For further information on England general licences, please call: 01244 573 000.

A table of information on general licences in England
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General licences are issued by government agencies to provide a legal basis for people to carry out a range of activities relating to wildlife.

By definition you do not need to apply for general licences but you are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions.


Defra’s general licences allow preventative action to be taken so you do not need to wait until damage has occurred.


The general licences require that, before and alongside their use, reasonable endeavours are made to achieve the purpose in question using lawful methods not covered by the licences, unless such endeavours would be impractical, without effect or disproportionate in the circumstances.

Defra advises users to keep a record of problems and their use of other lawful methods, but you do not need to submit those records to Defra or Natural England. 

Find out more detailed advice from Defra.


Defra’s general licences allow preventative action to be taken and there is no restriction on using decoys, shooting on stubbles, roost shooting etc.


Defra’s general licences allow the use of Larsen traps and other cage traps to trap pest birds.

As per the previous general licences that were revoked by Natural England, if you are carrying out bird pest control under a general licence on a SSSI, you also need Natural England consent.

Contact your local Natural England office if you do not have consent or are unsure.

Find out for more information from Defra on bird pest control on SSSIs.

If you are a BASC member and need further advice on general licences, please contact your regional team on 01244 573 000.


If you have a specific need to control a species not listed on the relevant general licence, you will need to apply for a specific individual licence from Natural England.