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Bird licences - photography

Do I need a licence to photograph a wild bird?

In most circumstances a licence is not required to photograph wild birds.  Licences are only required if your actions might otherwise constitute an offence.  In relation to birds this would most likely mean photography of Schedule 1  PDF document  bird species whilst they are at, on or near the nest.  There is no need for a licence to photograph wild Schedule 1 birds well away from the nest.  However, many of these species are especially prone to disturbance during the breeding season and can be disturbed from great distances. Therefore you should be very careful to make sure that you act within the law.

Scottish Natural Heritage does issue a small number of licences each year to allow experienced photographers to photograph certain Schedule 1 species at, on or near the nest.  Licences are only granted to people who are able to demonstrate their skill in photographing breeding birds.  The welfare of the birds is the most important consideration in the assessment of any licence application.

Find out more about licensing and photography and licence requirements  PDF document

Licence application form for bird photography  Word document

Licence returns

It is a condition of every licence that a return is submitted to licensing@snh.gov.uk.   Please submit your return using this return form  Excel spreadsheet   clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Photography licence returns must be accompanied by a sample of pictures/footage taken.

Renewals and amendments

If you hold a licence which you wish to renew or you wish to amend your licence you can:

  • telephone 01463 725364 (please make sure you have your licence number to hand); or
  • email licensing@snh.gov.uk putting your licence number in the subject.

For further information or advice please email licensing@snh.gov.uk or telephone 01463 725364.