Please note: Game licences and game dealers licences were abolished in Scotland with effect from 7 April 2011 when the new Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill was passed.

For more information on game licences visit

I have just been reading a recent issue about general licences. I have never had a game licence as my permission normally forbids the shooting of game, although I gather that a lot of people do not have one. I have no idea where to get one from either.

I have been shooting wood pigeons and rabbits for 30 years but I have never heard of a general licence before. Is it a new thing or have I just never actually known about it?

I have now looked on the web and found information about it but nothing about applying for one. Is it a bit like a game licence that people never actually seem to get around to applying for, or is it getting to be a you must have item?

There’s lots of good news here but can I first say ‘welcome to the 21st Century!’

You will be pleased to know game licences are no longer required in England and Wales although they are in Scotland. I expect they will be abolished in Scotland in due course as well but until then you can buy them at post offices in Scotland or through BASC’s Scottish office.

General licences have been in existence for around 15 years and the reason you have never heard of them is probably because you don’t personally need to have a licence.

General licences cover the shooting of pest species of birds by authorised persons, which broadly means anyone shooting with the permission of the landowner or occupier.

Briefly you may shoot pigeons and other species for the protection of crops or wild birds and for reasons of public health and air safety. Rabbits are not subject to general licence and may be shot by anyone who has permission from the landowner or occupier.

You don’t need to be in possession of a general licence but you should be aware of the conditions in them. They can be viewed at

  • pwlo

    removing of game licences (rather than making them sensible) is a big mistake, it will ,..and has done wonders for poachers, policing poaching is basically none existant, the licences gave an officer much more powers to identify and prosecute illegal activety, now it is easier to take game,and for them to selll game, and leaves this wide open to abuse, and a potential for a case of ecoli in sold game..via no controls on purchase and the butchering of game.. so now bought and sold no questions asked …one outbreak off Ecoli in game .. shooting estates could feel the finacial effects of a close down knee jerk action by the government on the sale of game… and it has been threathened in the 1990’s by governement, i have a copy of that government letter, de licencing ..a very bad move, no current bobbies have any idea about paoching laws, removing the licenses has made it easier to get away with it, even if the police bothered to turn out. ex PWLO