Do you need a licence for a Bird of Prey?

Thinking of buying a Bird of Prey? Find out what licences you'll need....

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If you own a Bird of Prey, you will need to register it if it’s listed under section 7, Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The bird will need to be registered as living with you at an address in England or Wales.

Birds of Prey that need to be registered are:

  • Honey Buzzard
  • Golden Eagle
  • White Tailed Eagle
  • Marsh Harrier
  • Montagu’s Harrier
  • Osprey
  • Goshawk
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Merlin

Your bird will also need to be close ringed or microchipped.

The birds listed on Schedule 4 are relevant for England and Wales and were reduced to only 9 in 2008/2009.

The Act is in place to protect wild animals and plant life within the UK from illegal poaching, and destruction.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate legislation.

Peregrines and Falcons will not need to be registered if you hold an Article 10 certificate for the bird, and it’s ringed or microchipped.

Buying a Bird of Prey

If you’re planning on buying a Bird of Prey, and the bird is on Schedule 4, the bird will need to be accompanied by an Article 10 certificate.

The Bird of Prey seller should also hold a blue registration document. You’ll both need to complete various parts of it. The seller needs to complete the bottom part of the document and send it to the CIT – Bristol (Centre for International Trade – Bristol).

And you’ll need to complete the back of it and send it off to the CIT – Bristol.

The bird should also be ringed or microchipped.

Get up to £5,000 of vet fees, death and theft cover with our Bird of Prey insurance. Non return cover also available as an optional add on (by telephone only). Call us on 0345 982 5505.

No registration documents available

If there are no registration documents available for the bird, but it has been registered before, you’ll need to re-register the bird. The form can be found at the Gov.UK website.

If you’re importing a Peregrine or Falcon from the EU, you’ll also need to register it. This is because their EU registered CITES certificate is not sufficient, according to CITES regulation.

You’ll also need to register imported birds from an unknown origin.

When don’t I need a licence?

In most cases you’ll need to register a schedule 4 bird. However, if your bird is a hybrid you won’t need a licence.

If you’re rehabilitating a sick or injured Bird of Prey or if its disabled and you’re an authorised person or place you also won’t need to register the bird. Instead you can treat it under a General Licence for up to 15 days.

Vets can care for disabled or treat and release sick birds for up to 6 weeks under a General Licence.

You don’t need to register for a General licence, but you should hold a copy of it, to understand what you’re able to do.

Do you need a licence to own a Barn owl?

Barn owls are listed on CITES as Appendix 1 (Annex A) birds, meaning that if you’re buying a Barn owl, you’ll need to see, or be given an Article 10 certificate.

Barn owls are also listed on Schedule 3, meaning they can only be sold if they’ve been bred in captivity. They should be wearing a closed ring or be microchipped.

Can you keep a Barn owl as a pet?

It’s not recommended by the Barn Owl Trust to keep Barn owls as pets. Wild, injured barn owls in rehabilitation, and parent reared birds will be particularly hard to tame.

Imprinted Owls can view their owner as either a mate or a competitor, meaning they’re hard to handle, and they can also be particularly noisy in breeding season. Particularly at night.

Owls that have been owner reared from chicks will also retain many wild qualities.

Using food to encourage flying can also be difficult. They’ll only eat when they’re hungry, and due to having no crop (as daytime birds would do) are full up quite quickly.

What is an Article 10 certificate for a Bird of Prey?

If you’re planning on using your Schedule 4 listed Bird of Prey for commercial purposes, then you will need to apply for an Article 10 certificate.

This is because some Birds of Prey are defined as endangered by CITES, meaning that all commercial movement and activity is regulated in order protect the birds.

According to DEFRA commercial purposes includes: “the selling of, the purchase, offering to purchase, acquisition for commercial purposes, display to the public for commercial purposes, use for commercial gain and sale, keeping for sale, offering for sale and transporting for sale.

It will also need to be wearing a closed ring or be microchipped.

Falconry Licences UK

To use your Bird of Prey for Falconry, you’ll need to apply for a Falconry licence from Natural England which are available here.

Application is free, and you will receive a decision within 30 days.