About the New AWA Standards for Birds

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published the final rule establishing new regulations and standards for captive birds to the Federal Register on February 21, 2023.  This rule applies to captive birds not bred for use in research.

Select information and resources about the standards, important dates, and licensing is included below.  To learn more visit the AWA Standards for Birds page and read the FAQ on the USDA Website.


The welfare husbandry standards for birds can be found under Subpart G – Specifications for the Humane Handling, Care, Treatment, and Transportation of Birds in the final rule. New licensees should also review section 2.4 of Subpart D – Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care.

In Preparing for a Prelicense Inspection at Your Facility, Dr. Cody Yager, the Avian Field Specialist in APHIS Animal Care, provides viewers with an overview of the standards.  Use the links below to view a transcript or jump to a specific section of the recording:

Important Dates 

  • August 21, 2023 –  Date by which current licensees and registrants must become compliant. Inspections conducted on or after this date will include all covered birds.
  • February 21, 2024 – Date by which a license or registration must obtained in order to continue conducting covered avian activity.
    • *November 23, 2023 –  Date by which new applicants for licensure should apply to allow for the recommended minimum of 90 days processing time prior to the February 21st deadline. 

Who Needs a License?

For exhibitors, a Class C license is required if you are exhibiting more than 8 pet bird species, or any non-pet bird with the exemption of 4 or fewer raptors.  A full USDA’s List of Pet Birds as Defined by the Animal Welfare Regulations is available on the USDA website.

To determine if your avian activity requires a license or registration, or to learn more about the application process, see the USDA resources below:


Questions can be directed to the USDA Animal Care office in Fort Collins, CO by calling (970) 494-7478 or emailing [email protected].

Last updated April 7, 2023