Collections and the Law

Natural Science Collections and the Law

The document below is intended to give keepers of natural science collections guidance on the legalities of holding specimens. It is not intended to be definitive: for further information/clarification please contact DEFRA (Animal and Plant Health Agency - APHA) or Natural England.

If anyone has anything they would like to add/amend to this document, experiences any problems operating under this guidance or would like some help or advice, please contact us by email to

We have also also made selected presentations available from our 2016 and 2023 Natural Science Collections and the Law Seminars. Note that the CITES presentation by Nichola Burnett contains very easy tables to check when museums would need a licence to charge for activities that may include CITES specimens.

Substances controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001

As you may know, NatSCA has been working on resolving the problem of museum drugs licensing with the Home Office. Museums are required to have a licence to hold drugs in their collections and it is illegal to transport or supply drugs without a licence.

We hope to be able to update this information soon.

For further information please consult the Home Office website.

Nature Conservation Legislation

Rhino Horn

Human Remains

Nagoya Protocol

Shipping and Loans