UK Taxidermy law

Do you wish to Buy or Sell items of taxidermy.Euro eagle Owl - Mike Gadd

It is at this stage that licenses may be required. Whether a licence is required or not is solely dependant on the species we are referring to. If the species is protected by law, it generally needs some kind of licence. (for a list of commonly traded species, their status and the licenses required - see Species listing)
You will notice that some species require an individual licence (Article 10 or Schedule 5) where others are traded under the Wildlife & Countryside Act General Licenses

Where individual licenses are involved the regulations state that it is an offence to BUY or SELL a protected species without such a licence. However you normally need not apply for a licence to BUY anything as the purchase is covered by the SALE licence. It is therefore imperative that you either, see or in some cases receive a copy of the sale licence or get the number of that licence. Also it is a criteria of any licence that "Proof of legality must accompany the sale". A licence itself is not necessarily "proof of legality". So when buying taxidermy, if it is a protected species and whether a licence is required or not, it is imperative that you also get "Proof of legality".

When trading with bird species solely listed on the Wildlife & Countryside Act General Licenses, there is no necessity to show the licence, as it is what it says on the can, a General Licence - ie. everybody has the right to use it. However evidence of legal acquisition must be given with each sale and a record must be kept by the taxidermist.

As a Buyer just follow these simple golden rules and you will not go far wrong:-

  1. Purchase from a reputable source. There are many Taxidermists/Dealers that have strived for years to build a good reputation, those people will be known by that reputation, your local Police Wildlife Crime Officer may be able to help. If not contact the Guild of Taxidermist (for contact details see Useful contacts). If the Taxidermist/Dealer is a member of The Guild of Taxidermists, you can be sure he or she works to a code of conduct and operates within the laws. This therefore is a good place to start.
  2. Get proof of legality. It is the criteria of all licenses. This "proof" is a legal requirement and must be given by the seller. It normally comes in the form of a label on the base or case of the specimen, some operators may even give a "certificate of proof" - whatever its format, it must contain the following information:- (a) Specimen details. (b) Cause of death. (c) date of acquisition. (d) Log Number - (the traders own reference number) and (e) the licence number (if applicable)
  3. With species listed under EC Regs 338/97 (updated 1332/2005) it is imperative that you confirm the seller already has the Article 10 Sales licence in place. Without this, legally they cannot sell (or even advertise) - and legally you cannot buy. Once the trade has been agreed, make sure you either get a copy of the licence or at least the number. You will require this if, sometime in the future you wish to sell the specimen on. As stated, the proof of legality should give you the licence number.

To confuse the issue further, there are in fact two types of Article 10 Licence. (a) The Transaction Licence - this is the more common style and needs to be renewed with every trade. (b) The "Specimen Specific Licence" which will include details of a micro chip. This is the passport style licence that must be passed on to the new owner.

Many U.K. Birds are sold under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 "General Licence" which is issued by the Secretary of State to everybody, so a copy is not necessary.
A reputable trader will explain what licence you are getting. (See Species Listing for details of what licenses are required for different species)


As a Seller, the reverse of (2) & (3) above is applicable.
If you are selling second hand items, hopefully you have bought wisely and proof of legality along with the licence or the number is with the specimen.
Should the need for an EC Article 10 Licence arise,(Birds of Prey/Owls etc) you will find it difficult to obtain one without the necessary information (see Guild of Taxidermists Approved Taxidermy Inspectors).

Species covered the new Habitats Regulation such as ALL UK BATS; DORMOUSE; OTTER & SCOTTISH WILDCAT among others must have been acquired prior to the regulation coming into effect in Scotland or England/Wales & N.I. See HABITATS REGULATION under VARIOUS REGULATIONS on this website.

Buying and Selling of carcases.

The same rules apply - however a couple of points need underlining.

One common way of acquiring protected species - such as those listed Annex "A" of EC Regs 338/97 is natural deaths from Zoos, Breeders, Falconers etc. If money is changing hands for the carcase, a relevant Article 10 is required before the Zoo/breeder/Falconer sells the specimen. - This article 10 MUST be for the dead carcase, not the breeders certificate for the live bird or animal.

Another fairly common problem is when you are gifted an Annex "A" species from Falconers/Breeders etc. Under current Government policy if the specimen was legally acquired from the wild or not enough is known about the origin, a stipulation will be given on the Breeders Cert. (Article 10) for the live bird. Such stipulations may be "for educational display purposes only" or "display to the public for commercial purposes" or "this specimen may not be sold or exchanged or its parts & derivatives otherwise sold". Be warned that these stipulations will either be passed over to the Article 10 for the dead bird or such an Article 10 will be refused. I know it is frustrating and a total waste of a good legal specimen but that is the Governments policy.

When dealing with members of the public who think they can make a fast buck by selling a road kill to a taxidermist - remember if it's an Annex "A" species they are not allowed to sell unless they already have the Article 10 licence. For WCA specimens it is different as they too are covered by the General Licence (although they should report the sale to DEFRA by the end of the year.


This company or individual cannot accept any responsibility for information given that is either misinterpreted by the author or the recipient and which is based either on experience gained or a matter of law where the precedence is yet to be decided by a court of law. Any information or guidence given is purely an opinion, therefore it is recommended that accredited legal advise is sought where appropriate.

Copyright 2005