Apply for a scientific licence

Find out how to apply for a scientific licence, details you need to include and how to report and upload data.

A scientist looking for tadpoles in open country.A scientific licence is a type of Biodiversity Conservation licence. There are several classes of scientific licence for various activities.

If you are not sure whether you need a licence or are unsure about which class to apply for, see our Scientific licences page for more details.

The following sections outline what you need to know about preparing, submitting and following up your application.

Information to include in your application

Once you begin your online application, you will be asked to provide your full legal name, date of birth, contact details, qualifications and organisation details.

If you have collaborators or staff who will work independently under the licence, you should list them by name as associates.

People who will not be working independently under the licence do not need to be listed as associates. These include students or volunteers working under the supervision of the licensee or third parties engaged under contract. However, you should list their involvement in the methods section of the online application.

You can list up to 5 associates in the online application. If there are more than 5 associates, you can attach a list of their full legal names, dates of birth and contact information in the attachments section of the online application.

Dates of birth are used to match records in the government licensing database but do not appear on the licence. Individuals’ details are then available for future applications, making it a faster process. Supplying accurate details for everyone also helps us to maintain an accurate database.

We don’t always contact your referees, but we may do so to check details in the application. Please note that we may provide any information you’ve included in the application to your referees.

You should supply details of your organisation when you are carrying out a project on its behalf or under its management. This includes projects by academic staff and students at universities, or by employees of consulting companies and so on.

Use the ABN/ACN matching tool in the online application to make sure you enter the details correctly.

You may list an alternative contact address, but you should still provide the organisation’s address and details.

You can apply to work anywhere across National Parks and Wildlife Service managed lands by nominating the parks, reserves or other areas in the location data page.

You can nominate up to 50 locations online, and more in an attachment. You can also choose locations at a National Parks and Wildlife Service area, region or branch level.

Please be specific about which locations you want to conduct your research in. The Wildlife Team will discuss your application with the relevant area managers.

Some activities may not require a scientific licence and can be authorised via a consent issued by a park authority under Section 26 of the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2019.

A scientific licence is not required for research on park if your activities do not involve;

  • harming or attempting to harm protected animals or an animal that is a threatened species (including threatened invertebrates)
  • picking protected plants or a plant that is a threatened species
  • damaging declared areas of outstanding biodiversity value
  • damaging the habitat of threatened species or threatened ecological community (this also includes harming any animal or picking any plant)
  • dealing in or attempting to deal in animals or plants that are protected, a threatened species or part of a threatened ecological community
  • liberating animals.

You should contact the local National Parks and Wildlife Service area office for approval at least 2 weeks before commencement of activities.

Species and locations

You can choose up to 50 species or threatened ecological communities in the online application. You can list more in an attachment if needed.

If your project involves flora or fauna surveys, choose 'ALL FLORA', 'ALL FAUNA' or other 'ALL' options. To find these, select the 'species type' and then enter 'ALL' in the look-up box.

You can also choose an entire family or genus.

Most terrestrial plants and most vertebrates are available to select in the online application. However, there are some omissions, including fungi, most invertebrates and species that have recently been taxonomically revised.

If the species you want to work on isn't listed, choose the most relevant generic option, such as 'ALL INSECTS', and list the exact target species in the methods.

If your activities require a Biodiversity Conservation licence and also involve the collection of abiotic (non-living) sample types, or your focus of work is not available in the online flora or fauna list, then enter the species type 'OTHER' and provide relevant details in your methods.

Abiotic sample collection usually does not require a scientific licence unless the work is to be undertaken in a threatened ecological community, the habitat of a threatened species or a declared area of outstanding biodiversity value. If collecting samples from a national park or reserve, the activities must be authorised via a consent issued by a park authority under Section 26 of the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2019.

Extra information

  • Additional questions (DOC 74KB) must be completed for all licence types.
  • An Animal Research Authority must be provided for applications involving animals.
  • Applicants for education licences to house any native animal other than a blue-tongue lizard, central bearded dragon, eastern snake-necked turtle, Children's python or green tree frog at a school will require an ethics approval from the NSW Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee.
  • Applicants for bush regeneration projects will need to supply additional information including:
    • a site action plan (this should include a map of the site and identify all present threatened species, habitats of threatened species and threatened ecological communities)
    • a program of works.

Refer to the Caves access policy for specific requirements to access karsts environments for research purposes. If the karst environment you intend to work in is also an identified area of outstanding biodiversity value, the habitat of a threatened species or makes up a threatened ecological community, please apply for a scientific licence.

A summary must be provided within the 3,000 character limit in the application form. However, if you need to provide additional information you may attach additional documents.

You can supply up to 5 relevant attachments to support your online application. These include maps and diagrams. Each attachment needs to be no larger than 4MB.

You can email additional supporting information to

Please include your name and licence application number in the subject heading. Make sure attachments are no larger than 7MB.

Please contact the Wildlife Team for further advice if you cannot email extra information.

After you submit your application

Assessing and granting licences usually takes between 28 and 56 days. It may take longer if extensive consultation is required, such as for translocations of threatened animals.

The length of licences varies, depending on the type of project and licence class.

Licence amendments are possible, but please review your initial application carefully before submitting it to ensure it includes all the species, sites and associates you are likely to need for the project.

You can request minor amendments to a licence while it is current, such as adding new locations, species or methods. Keep in mind that even minor amendments involving work on animals will likely require an additional animal ethics approval.

You may need to submit a new application if you wish to substantially modify the activities covered under the licence.

Changes to associates may be managed directly by the licensee. If you want to change the principal licensee, the existing licensee must submit a written request by email, because an amended licence will need to be granted.

You can request minor amendments by email to

Reporting obligations

If you plan to carry out surveys, research or other biodiversity assessments, you must provide a full report of plant and animal observations and data collection. You’ll need to include the following details:

  • species name
  • observation date
  • observer name
  • location description
  • coordinates
  • accuracy.

If you are licensed to conduct presence/absence (ecological) surveys, you will need to enter data about any threatened and protected plants and animals you encounter.

Other licensees need to report only plants and animals that are the target of their licensed activity, but incidental observations are highly valuable and you are encouraged to enter these.

Upload data to BioNet Atlas (previously Atlas of NSW Wildlife) using the most recent version of the BioNet Atlas spreadsheet.

To upload your spreadsheet, you need to register for login access to BioNet. Scientific licence holders are expected to register so that they can upload information and fulfil their licence requirements.

If you have difficulty uploading your data, please email the BioNet Team at