Captive Parrot License Programme Explained


Who is in charge of the programme?

Belize Forest Department Wildlife Programme administrates and governs the licensing programme.

Belize Bird Rescue provides advice, and supplies the resources necessary to carry out the initiative. We have no legal authority within this Government of Belize programme.


Why is this happening?

The law has always stated that it is illegal to hunt, capture or keep a native parrot. This law is in place to safeguard the wild populations. It is now recognised that unrestricted hunting of wild parrots for the local pet trade is unsustainable and wild populations are now falling to dangerously low levels.


Who can apply?

One person from a household must be the applicant, and therefore the registered keeper of the bird.  There can be only one application for a maximum of two birds per household.


How do I apply?
You need to complete a Captive Wildlife Permit application form, and submit it to the Belize Forest Department by fax, email, mail or in person.


Where do I get an application form?
Forms and minimum standard instructions are available for collection and submission at the following locations:
Forest Department Belmopan, Orange Walk, San Ignacio, Savannah (Independence), Machaca (Punta Gorda)

PDF download: application form and minimum standards
Word document download for email submission


Can I license any bird?
The permit applies to indigenous parrots: that is parrots that were taken from the wild in Belize.

There are nine species of parrots indigenous to Belize. View pictures of these birds (Pdf 282kb)


What are the licence conditions?
1. The bird must have been in captivity for at least 1 year: no baby birds will be licensed
2. Your bird must be hand tame: you must be able to pick him up without harm or distress to you or the bird
3. You may not keep more than 2 birds per household
4. Your bird must not be sick or injured in any way
5. Your enclosure and husbandry must meet minimum standards for that species
6. You bird should not be a wild-caught scarlet macaw (certain exceptions apply, assessed individually)


My bird is not a parrot, do I still need a licence?
If the bird was removed from the wild in Belize, it is an indigenous bird and is covered by the Wildlife Protection Act. You need to seek permission from the Forest Department to keep the bird. You should still use the same Captive Wildlife Permit application form, but you may be required to conform to different terms and conditions.  


If I apply, am I guaranteed to keep my parrot?
Basic conditions of the indigenous parrot permit are:

  • Your bird cannot be a baby

  • Your bird must be hand-tame

  • The bird must be in good health

  • You must conform to the minimum standards of care

  • Your bird must not be a prohibited species (currently scarlet macaw applications are being reviewed on a case by case basis)

  • You must not have more than 2 birds in your household

If you conform to these conditions, then Forest Department are unlikely remove your bird.


What happens if I do not conform to minimum standards?
You will be given a probationary period to bring the enclosure and care of the bird up to standard. If you conform fully within the period of time given then Forest Department are likely to grant a permit. If you do not, then Forest Department may confiscate your bird(s)


I have submitted my application but I haven’t heard anything
The Wildlife Programme Officers already have hundreds of inspections to carry out. Please be patient and they will come into your area in due course. Once you have submitted your application, you are advised to bring your conditions up to minimum standards as soon as possible: you are more likely to be granted a permit on first inspection if you conform.


I was given permission to keep my bird in the past. Do I still need to apply?
Yes. There have been very few official permits given. It is unlikely that the permit you have is still valid, and minimum standards have been implemented so you will need to conform. Verbal permission is not an official permit under the new license conditions. You must apply for the new permit and your bird needs a leg band to show he is licenced.


When does the license period end?
The latest Forest Department deadline for applications was October 2016. However there has been an unofficial extension that will end shortly. If you have not already done so, please submit your application quickly.


What happens after the final deadline
All captive birds that have not had a permit application submitted for them will be confiscated. The owner may face charges or a fine.


What happens when I get my licence?
You will be issued with an official permit. Full permit conditions can be seen at the bottom of the page.
You bird will be fitted with a permanent leg band. This does not hurt the bird at all. The band has a unique number which applies to that bird and corresponds to his official permit. The band cannot be removed for refitting as it will break. If you need to remove the band for medical reasons, you should visit a veterinarian or contact Forest Department immediately.


How long does the permit last
It is valid for the lifetime of the bird, provided you maintain standards of care
If you move house, you must inform the Forest Department: the bird is registered to you at that address, you cannot transfer to another address or to another keeper without a reissue of the permit.


What happens to my bird if it is confiscated?
The bird will be taken to the Government sanctioned rehabilitation centre where it will undergo a long rehabilitation process to return to the wild.


Can I appeal if my bird is confiscated?
Yes. You may contact the Forest Department stating the reasons why you believe you bird should be returned. In certain circumstances the bird will have been removed for its own immediate safety until conditions can be improved or to seek expert/medical advice.
You have 7 days to appeal. If your appeal is successful you will be required to conform to minimum standards and conditions before the bird can be returned.


I heard some people had their bird confiscated without warning. Why?
FD will confiscate the following birds:

  • Obviously baby birds

  • Very sick birds

  • Birds in immediate danger due to exceptionally poor living conditions

  • Birds that are not hand tame

  • Birs that exceed the maximum allowed 2 per household

  • They may also confiscate wild-caught scarlet macaws which are the prohibited species (reviewed on a case-by-case basis)


My bird spends all day in a tree - do I still need a cage?

If his wings are clipped or he is unable to fly in any way then YES, you need a cage - for his own safety and protection. Read more.


My parrot is not listed on the indigenous parrot poster. What does that mean?
The bird has been brought into Belize from outside the country. Imported parrots must have 3 permits:

  1. CITES papers, which are issued in the country of origin. Birds that have been taken from the wild will not have CITES papers. Hybrid birds will not have CITES papers. Birds that have been bred in captivity and have not been registered with CITES will not have CITES papers. All CITES registered birds will have a solid leg band (it has no gap or join in it). It is illegal under international law to transport a CITES registered species without a CITES permit

  2. BAHA import papers, issued in Belize. Birds coming into Belize must first be tested for several diseases, and then registered with BAHA as free from disease before importation. BAHA must grant permission for the bird to enter the country and will have a record of all legally imported birds. It is illegal to bring any bird or animal into the country without a BAHA permit. Violators risk having their animal destroyed

  3. Forest Department import permits: birds coming into Belize also require import permits from the Forest Department. The Department will have a record of all birds imported legally into the country

I imported a bird and I have all of my paperwork. Do I still need this licence?

No. But you should conform to minimum standards. Forest Department have jurisdiction over the standard of care of the bird. 


I want a parrot but I don’t want to break the law
Belize Bird Rescue urges those wishing to own a bird to consider a budgerigar (parakeets) as a pets. They are better suited to living in cages, and especially larger aviaries. They live well with multiple birds and are comfortable with less space, time or attention than a large parrot, particularly if they have a mate. They are captive-bred in Belize and are available for sale. As of this moment they do not require a Forest Department permit, although you should conform to minimum standards of care for the sake of the bird. 


How do I encourage wild parrots into my garden/property?
Planting appropriate food-sources and providing a safe and natural environment is by far the best way. See here for some ideas.


Can I surrender my bird for rehabilitation?
Yes, contact Forest Department or Belize Bird Rescue to arrange.


You have not answered my question!
Please feel free to email us with any questions or suggestions.


Below are the full conditions for the Captive Wildlife Permit with respect to indigenous parrots

  • This permit provides for only the Parrot(s) listed above and is not transferrable

  • This permit is granted only to the person named above and is not transferable

  • The Parrot(s) shall only be kept at the address above: Forest Department must be notified immediately of any address change in order to re-inspect the conditions

  • This permit does not allow the sale, exchange or gifting of the licensed Parrot

  • The Parrot must be treated humanely and always be kept in proper living conditions in accordance with Forest Department minimum standards

  • This permit does not allow public exhibition of the licensed Parrot(s)

  • The authorized person on this permit is required to consult a licensed veterinarian in the case of illness or injury. Veterinary records should be kept and presented to the Forest Department upon request

  • The Wildlife Officer or any other person or agent authorized by him may on his behalf periodically inspect and examine the licensed Parrot(s) and make recommendations for improved care and management

  • The numbered leg band fitted by the Wildlife Officer or agent must not be removed. Unauthorized removal of the band may invalidate this permit

  • The person named on this licence is required to inform the Forest Department of the death or loss of the licensed parrot(s)

  • The Parrot(s) remain the property of the Government of Belize at all times

Any contravention of the above conditions will result in confiscation of the Parrot(s) and the permit holder will be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) on the first count.