Become a volunteer bat roost visitor

Find out what a volunteer bat roost visitor (VBRV) does and how to get trained and licenced to carry out bat roost visits.

Applies to England

The role

Natural England’s volunteer bat roost visitors (VBRVs) visit bat roosts in homes, places of worship and other public buildings to:

  • reassure people affected or distressed by bats
  • advise on timing and methods for building maintenance and pest control
  • reduce the possibility of bats being excluded from their roosts

VBRVs play an important role in bat conservation.

How to become a VBRV

You cannot go on bat roost visits as a VBRV on your own until you’ve got a level 1 survey licence.

To get this you must be trained by a trainer with a VBRV level 2 survey licence.

You must be at least 18 years old to train for a VBRV level 1 survey licence.

Find a trainer

Before registering as a trainee VBRV you must find a registered and licensed trainer who’s willing to train you. Contact your local bat group to find out if they have a trainer available. If they do not, Natural England can try to find you a trainer from neighbouring bat groups.

VBRV trainers will use their experience and judgement to decide if they can train you. They should give you a clear and reasonable explanation for their decision if they do not want to take you on. If you’re not satisfied with their explanation please email

Register as a trainee

When you’ve found a trainer, fill in the expression of interest form to register as a trainee VBRV. Natural England will then email you an induction pack and invite you to a telephone induction.

VBRV training

You’ll need to go on bat roost visits with your trainer and other licenced VBRVs until you’ve got the right knowledge, skills and experience to receive your licence.

You’ll also need to complete health and safety training. You’ll be emailed 4 modules to complete, plus an online test. The modules include:

  • asbestos awareness
  • risk management
  • working at heights
  • dealing with aggression and violence

If you’ve already done health and safety training, Natural England may agree that you do not need to do these modules. Email to find out if the health and safety training you’ve done meets their requirements.

How long it will take for you to finish your training and get your VBRV licence depends on:

  • ability
  • previous experience
  • how many bat roost visits you’ve completed

You will not receive a licence if you do not reach the level of competence and skill required.

Rabies vaccination

You do not need rabies vaccination if you’re a trainee VBRV. This is because your main role will be to observe and do surveys.

If you’re a level 1 or 2 licensed VBRV, you must either:

You can get vaccinated or have an antibody test at a GP surgery.

If you’re charged for your vaccination you can claim it back if you’re a level 1 or 2 VBRV. Ask your Natural England volunteer supervisor for an expenses claim form.

VBRVs who are paid to work with bats must pay for rabies vaccinations.

Antibody tests are not free to VBRVs.

Bat workers’ manual

Read the bat workers’ manual for:

  • bat protection law
  • guidance on handling and identifying bats

Contact Natural England

Email Natural England at for:

  • more information about becoming a VBRV
  • health and safety advice

Find out more about bat protection and licences.

Published 15 December 2008
Last updated 17 March 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance on how to find a trainer, register as a trainee and what volunteer bat roost visitor training includes.

  2. Update to rabies advice

  3. Updated summary of bat advice service contract.

  4. First published.