Through the contact-us tab we have received a lot of queries about training for bat licences, so to help you out, please find below some information about bat licences and training.

The first question to ask is do you need a licence for the type of work or study you wish to undertake?

Do remember that some bat work can be carried out without holding a licence of any kind. For example, bat detector activity surveys and emergence counts don’t require a licence. A licence is only needed if there is a possibility of disturbing bats, such as by entering a bat roost.

It is worth noting that all bat survey licences require a significant amount of training and field experience to achieve; no single course will qualify you for a licence.

There are two main types of licence that our Bat Group members hold, or are training towards. A summary of the key types of licence is set out below. Further down the page you will find even more detail on these two licence types.

1. Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors Licence 

(issued for the purposes of conservation)

  • Volunteer bat roost visitor (licence WML-CL15)
  • Volunteer bat roost visitor trainer (licence WML-CL16)

2. Survey licence 

These licences are issued for the purposes of science and education including research. They are issued by Natural England, based on four levels:

  • Level one – to survey bats by observation only (licence WML-CL17)
  • Level two – to survey bats using artificial light, endoscopes, hand and handheld static nets (licence WML-CL18)
  • Level three – to survey bats using artificial light, endoscopes, hand and handheld static nets, mist nets and acoustic lures (licence WML-CL19)
  • Level four – to survey bats using artificial light, endoscopes, hand and handheld static nets, harp traps and acoustic lures (licence WML-CL20)

The Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor’s Licence

Who is it for?

This licence is for volunteer Bat Roost Visitors (VBRV). These are licensed volunteers who visit householders who have bat roosts and who are either planning some work that may disturb the bats or are unhappy with their bats and may need some reassurance. On behalf of Natural England these volunteers provide advice and reassurance about bats to homeowners (this free service also includes churches). The licence only covers official duties on behalf of the Natural England free advice service. The “call-outs” for VBRVs generally come through the Bat Conservation Trust’s:  National Bat Helpline

Training for this licence:

The training scheme for this licence is entirely voluntary. Northumberland Bat Group currently has one active trainer who takes on one or two trainees each year. We hope to have a second trainer active soon….  Trainees must cover all of the relevant theory relating to bat work and then do a number of accompanied roost visits to gain practical experience. Once our trainer considers that a trainee is competent (bat knowledge, practical bat work and ability to talk to householders), she will sign you off for your licence. Depending on the number of VBRV callouts attended, it can take two years or more to gain your VBRV licence. 

The training follows the steps set out in the Bat Workers Manual. Those training for this licence type must be linked to a specific trainer and be registered as a volunteer with Natural England. However a trainee can gain additional experience by attending training courses and accompanying other licensed bat roost visitors on visits. Trainees should keep a log of their experiences.

For more information see the Natural England advice.

Survey licence

Who is it for:

These licences are for all bat related activities (both voluntary and professional) outside of the Natural England volunteer bat roost visitor advice service.

This includes:

  • Bat box checks,
  • Hibernation surveys,
  • General survey work,
  • Professional survey work,
  • Use of harp traps, mist nets and acoustic lures for development purposes.

Anyone who wishes to work as an ecological consultant would be highly likely to need to hold this type of licence.

Training for this licence:

Unlike the VBRV system, there is no specific training scheme relating to this licence. Sign off is instead via two references (individuals that hold this licence type).

A trainer (someone who holds a VBRV trainer licence) cannot sign individuals off for this licence type. They can however act as one of the two referees if they also hold a survey licence. Our NBG trainer does hold this type of licence too.  

Some of the training for this licence is possible through Northumberland Bat Group – particularly for those wishing to use the licence for bat group or voluntary activities such as:

  • Bat box checks,
  • Hibernation surveys e.g. those monitored as part of the NBMP,
  • General surveys.

Your local bat group (NBG) is the best place to start for anyone wishing to get involved with bats. Some of the training for this licence can be gained by attending NBG events, as well as training courses which are great for learning bet theory, bat biology, ecology and legislation and some experience of survey skills.

BCT (and other providers) offer a number of training courses which provide a good foundation for those wishing to undertake professional bat survey work. Some of these courses may also be suitable for other individuals wishing to train for this licence type. However, following on from these courses, an individual would still need to get a substantial amount of experience in the field before showing the competence to be signed off by two referees. Individuals should also try to gain experience by accompanying surveyors who already hold this licence type on surveys.

A log book should be kept of all courses, reading, bat group activities and other bat experience as this will all help an individual in working towards a licence. The log book can be used to inform your referees about all of the training that you have done, even if it has been self guided.

If your plan is to become an ecological bat consultant there are two options:

  1. Find other licenced bat consultants who may be willing to take you along on some of their contract work.
  2. Pay to attend a licencing course – a few trainers run their own licensing training courses.

It can be difficult to gain the necessary experience (outside of bat groups) for this licence. On average it takes 1-2 years to get a Level 1 licence, and then lots of handling experience to gain the necessary skills to gain the Level 2 licence.  BCT is currently working to try and help those finding it difficult to gain a licence, particularly those who wish to undertake professional bat survey work. BCT has published a professional training standards document that provides information about the skills and knowledge an individual would need to become an ecological consultant.

If you have read this far and are still interested in becoming a licenced bat worker, then please use the Contact-Us page to email us and make yourself known. To be taken on as a trainee, we would anticipate that you are also willing to give time to the Bat Group, to help with call-outs and to attend bat walks and other events. 

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