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Do I need a general licence or a game licence?

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