Non-native species licensing

Support provided by NatureScot

What does this involve?

You'll need a licence if you wish to release or plant a non-native or former native species outside its native range. This applies to non-native animals and plants. You should apply to NatureScot for a licence if your work could otherwise result in an offence.

It is an offence to release a non-native animal species or allow it to escape from captivity outwith its native range. It is also an offence to plant a non-native plant or otherwise cause it to grow outwith the range where it would naturally occur.

To apply for a non-native species licence, contact the Licensing Team at NatureScot.

To assess your application, NatureScot will consider:

  • the reason for your licence application – that is, the need you aim to address
  • alternative solutions that wouldn’t require a licence – and why they’re not feasible
  • potential impacts – the risk of the species spreading into the wild, the effects if it did, and how you’ll minimise or manage this risk

Am I eligible?

Anyone can apply for a non-native species licence in Scotland.

What does this cost?

This is a free service.

Who is this for?

Anyone whose work involves the release or planting of a non-native or former native species outside its native range in Scotland.

How long does this take?

Processing times vary.

Next steps

To apply for a non-native species licence, email

You can also visit the NatureScot website for more information.

Support provided by NatureScot

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