Bird gatherings licence: April 2021

Certain bird gatherings are currently permitted in Scotland under the general licence which came into effect at 12:00 hours (mid-day) on 21 April 2021. The organiser of the gathering is responsible for ensuring that the conditions of the general licence are complied with, including strict biosecurity requirements.

General licence to arrange a fair, market, show, exhibition or other gathering involving the collecting together of captive birds in Scotland

Non-compliance with this licence constitutes an offence under section 73 of the Animal Health Act 1981, a person may be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding £5,000 or both.

A veterinary risk assessment has been carried out in accordance with article 4(2) of the Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (Scotland) Order 2007 (“the Order”). 

The veterinary inspector is satisfied that, under the conditions of this licence, certain bird gatherings and the transit of birds to and from those gatherings will not significantly increase the risk of transmission of avian influenza virus.

The veterinary inspector grants the following licence under article 4(1) of the Order. 

This licence permits the collection of captive birds at fairs, markets, shows, exhibitions or other gatherings subject to the conditions set out in the Schedule, with the exception of:

  • Galliformes  (including pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkey, guinea fowl);
  • Anseriformes (including ducks, geese, swans);
  • poultry; and
  • racing pigeons gathered for mainland Europe pigeon races.

This licence applies in Scotland, including in the higher risk areas (HRAs) identified by Scottish Ministers under Article 3 of Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/1136 (the Decision) and in accordance with Article 4(4)(e) of the Decision, which permits, subject to the compliance by the licensee with the conditions in the Schedule, the gathering of poultry or other captive birds in the HRAs.

An epidemiological assessment has been carried out in accordance with Article 4(1) of the Decision.

This licence may be varied, suspended or revoked at any time.

Coming into force:

This licence will come into effect at 12:00 hours (mid-day) on 21 April 2021.


Sheila Voas, Veterinary Inspector, 20 April 2021

Animal Health and Welfare Division
Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Economy
Scottish Government
P Spur
Saughton House
EH11 3XD


1. The person arranging the gathering is the licensee and is responsible for ensuring the conditions in this licence are complied with.

2. The licensee must take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of avian  influenza onto, within and off the premises where the gathering is held.

3. The licensee must distribute biosecurity advice at the event to any participant, including the recommendation that birds should be inspected for signs of illness before travelling to any gathering, and any birds travelling from a gathering to any premises (whether they are returning stock or new) should be isolated from other birds at that premises and monitored for signs of illness for at least one week.

4. The licensee must have in place written contingency arrangements that explain what should happen if there is a notifiable avian disease incident at or near the event. The plan must include details of:

i. how birds suspected of notifiable avian disease will be separated from other birds;

ii. how birds will be kept at the premises until an APHA Veterinary Inspector has given instructions for birds to leave the premises, if notifiable avian disease is suspected at the gathering; and

iii. how birds will be kept at the premises if movements off the premises are restricted because the gathering subsequently becomes located in a notifiable avian disease control zone.

5. The licensee must notify the Inverness Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA),  (irrespective of where the gathering is being held in Scotland) at least 7 calendar days prior to the eventContact details for APHA are:

APHA Field Services (Inverness)
Longman House
28 Longman Road

Inverness, IV1 1SF
Telephone: 0300 0600 709
Fax: 01463 711495


6. The notification must include:

i. the date (or range of dates) on which the bird gathering will take place; and

ii. the location of the gathering (including address, postcode and CPH number if applicable); and

iii. details of the licensee (full name and full contact details); and

iv. anticipated numbers and type(s) of birds that will be gathered together.

7. Where gatherings take the form of dealing or internet sales, notification to APHA may be made annually, providing the anticipated frequency and volume of sales in addition to requirements at paragraph 6.

8. Any changes to the information provided that occur between notification and the event itself, must also be notified to the APHA Inverness office as soon as possible.  

9. The licensee must make a record of all people who bring birds to a gathering, or take such birds from a gathering, and keep the record for at least three months following the end of the gathering. The record must include at least the following information:

i. Full name

ii. Home address (including postcode)

iii. Telephone number

iv. Number and type(s) of birds

v. Details of the locations that birds came from and went to, after the gathering

10. The licensee must not allow any cage, crate, basket or other container onto premises being used for a gathering that is visibly contaminated with bird droppings, bedding or other material of bird origin, other than that from, or provided for, the birds brought to the gathering, and must make this requirement known in advance to all those bringing birds to the gathering.

11. The licensee must also:

i. ensure that a veterinary surgeon is available during the whole time that birds are present at the gathering and ensure they are consulted if birds show signs of ill-health or welfare problems; and

ii. ensure that an expert, designated by the licensee, inspects each bird on arrival for signs of ill-health or welfare problems and refuses entry of any bird failing this inspection; and

iii. ensure that cleansing and disinfection facilities are available to gathering attendees on site, and good biosecurity practices are encouraged; and

iv. report any signs suggestive of notifiable avian disease to APHA: no birds should be allowed to leave the premises until APHA have confirmed this can be permitted; and

v. ensure that any feed to which captive birds had access, and all bedding, droppings, other material of bird origin and other contaminants derived from birds at the gathering and which are left on the premises when the gathering has ended are:

a. destroyed; or

b. treated so as to remove the risk of transmission of disease; or

c. disposed of so that birds do not have access to them; or

d. disposed of as Category 2 material under Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002.

e. where practicable, cleanse and disinfect those parts of the premises contaminated by such materials; and

f. ensure that any cages, crates, baskets or other containers not removed from the premises by those attending the gathering are cleansed and disinfected as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of the gathering and in any case before they are used again.

12. Where a gathering is held on a vehicle (for example, to transport racing pigeons to the start of a race), the licensee must ensure that condition 10 above is applied to the vehicle.


(These notes do not form part of the licence)

1. Definitions:

"other captive bird" means any bird, other than poultry kept in captivity and including any bird kept for shows, races, exhibitions or competitions (such as ornamental birds and racing pigeons).

"poultry" means all birds that are reared or kept in captivity for the production of meat, or eggs for consumption, the production of other commercial products, for restocking supplies of game or for the purposes of any breeding programme for the production of these categories of birds.

"premises" includes any land, building or other place.

“expert” a named person(s) appointed by the licensee who is an experienced bird keeper with experience of the species of bird(s) attending the gathering.  The person does not need to be a veterinary surgeon but must be sufficiently experienced to identify signs of ill health.

“gathering” is interpreted to mean an occasion at which poultry and/or other captive birds are brought together from different locations for any purpose, and afterwards either go back to their original locations or go on to more than one new location, and includes:

i). a fair, market, show, sale or exhibition; and

ii). the collection of pigeons from different lofts on a vehicle for pigeon racing.

2. This licence permits the gathering of other captive birds which include:

  • Columbiformes (including doves and pigeons);
  • Passerines (including finches, budgerigars and canary);
  • Psittaciformes (including parrots, macaws, cockatiels);
  • Falconiformes (including hawks, harriers, buzzards, eagles);
  • Strigiformes (including owls); and
  • Racing pigeons gathered for pigeon racing within the UK, Republic of Ireland and the Crown Dependencies.

3. The following are not considered to be gatherings and do not, therefore, need to be licensed—

  • collection of birds at a licensed slaughterhouse for slaughter;
  • a collection of birds which have all come from the same single premises (a dispersal sale or ‘re-homing’);
  • an event involving only eggs (no live birds are present);
  • birds which are brought together from different locations, but where no birds move off the premises within 13 days of the last bird arriving on the premises;
  • catching-up of wild game birds (where they have come from multiple locations but are then moved to a single location afterwards, and remain there for breeding or other purposes);
  • any occasion when all the birds brought together are from the same epidemiological group.

Here, “the same epidemiological group” means that because of the way the birds are kept or managed on a day-to-day basis, (e.g. common housing, tended by the same personnel) they are deemed to be of the same health status and of the same level of risk with regards to the introduction of notifiable avian disease.

4. Under article 11(8) and Schedule 2 to the Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003, where an area is declared to be an infected area this general licence will no longer apply.  Article 13 (racing pigeons) of the Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003 requires that:

“(1) An organiser of a show or race which takes place wholly or partly in Scotland shall ensure that all racing pigeons entered for the race or show have been vaccinated against paramyxovirus 1 in pigeons.

(2) Every person who owns or keeps racing pigeons shall keep a record of every race or show for which any such racing pigeons are entered.”

5. Article 14 (cleansing and disinfection) of the Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003 requires that:

“(1) Any person in charge of premises on which poultry or racing pigeons are or have been exposed for sale or exhibited shall thoroughly cleanse and disinfect those premises, their fittings and any receptacle used for the exposure or exhibition of such birds as soon as practicable after use and in any event before they are used again.

(2) A veterinary inspector or an inspector of a local authority may, by notice served on the person in charge of any premises or vehicle on or in which any birds are or have been, require that person to cleanse and disinfect the premises or vehicle and any fittings or receptacle in such manner as that inspector may require and may prohibit the movement into the premises or vehicle of birds until the cleansing and disinfection has been completed to the satisfaction of the inspector.

(3) Without prejudice to the bringing of proceedings under the 1981 Act, where a notice under this article is not complied with, any person authorised by the Scottish Ministers or the local authority may enter the premises or vehicle to which the notice relates and carry out the work of cleansing and disinfection required and the cost of such work shall be recoverable as a debt from the person on whom the notice was served.

(4) For the purposes of this article “cleansing” includes the disposal of all litter, droppings and other matter in a manner which does not present a risk of the spread of disease.”

6. Disinfectants approved for use against avian diseases in Great Britain are listed at:   

7. Anyone in possession of any bird or bird carcase that they suspect may be infected with avian influenza virus, paramyxovirus 1 or Newcastle disease must immediately notify the local APHA office. Contact details can be found on the Scottish Government website at:  

8. In the event of disease outbreak, gatherings of poultry and other captive birds are not permitted in a Protection or Surveillance Zone, and this general licence does not apply within those zones.  Birds originating from a Protection or Surveillance Zone are not permitted to attend gatherings.

9. Contact your local APHA office or local authority for further advice on biosecurity measures and any other legislation that may apply.

10. Non-compliance with this licence may constitute an offence under section 73 of the Animal Health Act 1981 and may render a person liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months and/or a £5,000 fine on conviction.

It is your responsibility to ensure that APHA has been notified of the event.

Bird gatherings licence: April 2021



Animal Health and Welfare 
Scottish Government
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Saughton House

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