Metal Detecting Permission-And How To Get It.

  • By: Admin
  • Date: January 29, 2024
  • Time to read: 8 min.
getting permission to metal detect on land

One of the biggest and scariest issues facing, not only the new metal detectorist but seasoned ones as well, is getting metal detecting permission or a permit for a plot of land. Often we see a fields or a plot and think to ourselves, “That looks a good place to detect”, but where do we start to get the relevant permission?

As I mentioned in the beginners guide doing your research can point you in the right direction and also give you a few clues in whether all the effort you put into your research is worth it.

If you want to get the best out of your hobby, you will have to put the work in before setting foot on someone’s land. It is unfortunately a common thread of conversation in many metal detector clubs around the country, that there is ‘no decent land to detect on’.

 But all you have to do is take some time to do your research which you can then present to the farmer or landowner. This makes gaining permission much easier than going in underprepared.  

Metal Detecting Permission Research-Google Is Your Friend

This research you need to do to get metal detecting permission is made all the more easier with the internet. At the click of a button, with a bit of digging, you now have access to local maps, local history sites and various documents which show if a site is worth your time and effort.

All this research will enable you to answer the landowners questions such as, “Why do you want to detect on my land?” and “What do you expect to find?” Many times knowing a bit of history about their land, historical things that they may not be aware of, can sometimes change a no into a big fat yes!

Reasons for rejection to metal detect on private land

Even after all your research, there are still many reasons why metal detecting permission could be refused. Many metal detecting clubs approach landowners and gain permission for their club members, so any more detectorists searching their land is probably not something they would consider. Another reason could be that they may have had a bad experience in the past with land looking as if a labour of moles had taken up residence in their fields.

how to start metal detecting

Once you do get your metal detecting permission-Make sure you keep it

One thing you must do wherever you are actually detecting, is to work in a tidy and orderly fashion. After all the effort and time you have spent obtaining permission to search an area of land, you don’t want that permission withdrawn due to you leaving a mess. Do your best to leave the site as you found it. All holes should be filled and any rubbish, even if you didn’t put it there, should be removed. Even more importantly, if livestock is present, make sure you don’t do anything to endanger the animals.

Treat the land with respect-Learn to Cut A Plug

You need to know how to cut a ‘plug’. There are two ways to correctly dig a plug, when you get a target.

The first way, is best when there is grass on the surface. The plug should be a shoehorn or square shape about the size of a dinner plate. Cut down three of the four sides, around five or six inches down in a sloping action, a bit like an upside down pyramid. This will help you when you replace the plug. Lift the cut plug out and turn it over. Once the search is complete, just flip it back and compact it down again.

how to cut a plug when metal detecting

The second is used when the top surface is loose. This time cut the same way, with a slope to the cut, but this time all four sides are cut. This plug is then lifted out and placed onto a small sheet of polythene. When you have searched the plug, it can then be simply returned to where it came and lightly trodden down.

Permission for Metal Detecting-Where to start

Ok, back to the tricky subject of getting metal detecting permission. It always helps, when searching for permission, if you can address you request to the landowner by name. So your first port of call should be doing a search on the internet. Using Google Maps or Google Earth you can usually find the address of the farm shown on the screen. You can then turn to the good old phone book or Thompson Local (if in the UK) and start doing your detective work. Sometimes the listing doesn’t show the landowners name. If this is the case and further investigation doesn’t get you the information, then you will have to address your correspondence to ‘Dear Sir’.

Another method you could use is to do it the old fashion way. Boots on the ground, visit shops and pubs, especially pubs, in the area may give you the information to need to progress to the next step.

Letter giving permission to use property

Another thing to bear in mind is that, when you do get permission, you should do your best to have a written agreement with the landowner. Most you will encounter seem to prefer a verbal agreement and if this is the case you will just have to go with it. If you do need a written agreement you can find a suitable ones, which cover both parties, online HERE.

Face to face permission

There is more than one way to get permission and you could just knock on the door and ask the landowner for permission face to face. Once again if you do this, make sure you have done your research. But even spending hours searching the internet probably won’t stop you being sent packing.

knocking-at-door to get metal detecting permission

Everyone loves to receive a letter

When you take the option of writing a letter you have the advantage of taking the softer approach. You can introduce yourself and tell him a little about your passion.

This can give the landowner a bit of time to consider his response and to mull over his decision. Then even if he turns you down, it avoids a potential uncomfortable situation. Sometimes you will not even get a reply, but if you remember to include your email or phone number, there is very little else you can do in the situation.

A handwritten letter is probably better than a printed document, as long as your writing is of a standard that it can be read. You could always as a friend who you know has better ‘penmanship’ than yourself, to do it for you. If not, use a computer, print it off, then sign that.

Mention the NCMD or your club

If you are a member of a metal detecting organisation or a club, it doesn’t hurt to mention this. Or the fact that you have insurance to cover detecting.

Remember when you send the letter, to enclosed a self addressed envelope, as well as any corresponding print outs or maps, which supports your case. Also, after you have done your research,  be sure to include a map of the site you wish to get permission for, so there is no misunderstanding as to which field or plot you refer to.

What to do if you don’t hear anything?

If you haven’t heard back from the landowner after four or five weeks, you could then pay him a visit, taking with you the correspondence that was sent. It could be that it was lost, never passed on, or he just hasn’t got around to replying yet. Farmers are very busy people. If the answer is then a big fat NO, then you need to move on.

metal detecting permission and how to get it

Who owns the land?

Farmers are most likely the individuals you will be dealing with. So if that is the case the letter can then be addressed to that particular individual. But how do you do you approach if the land is owned by a company? A quick phone call to the company concerned will usually do the trick. Don’t go into too much detail but simply enquire who deals with issues relating to ‘company land’ and how they should be addressed.

Sir, Madam or is it Your Royal Highness

Another quick point when contacting individuals, make sure you address them correctly, whether by letter or face to face. If a person has a title you need to know how to start the letter and also the correct way to finish it. The same thing applies if a face to face meeting is granted. Always be pleasant and smartly dressed and if you feel that permission is being declined, accept it with good grace. It you do this they may change their mind at a later date.

getting detecting permission

Tips and tricks for gaining permissions to metal detect

  • Always mention your NCMD membership the insurance you hold
  • Google ‘farms’ or ‘farm shops’ to get websites, emails or Facebook pages where you can then approach sites.
  • Contact local campsites, fishing lakes, rural bed and breakfasts, shooting clubs. Any places you can think would get you a foot in the door or can give you someone’s contact details.
  • Contact historical groups in your area and ask for any advice they can give you
  • Think of family or friends who own land that may be suitable.
  • Try to make your approaches to land owners personal. Maybe you grew up in that area, or played there as a child.
  • When you approach for permission DO NOT mention the words ‘valuables’, ‘digging’ or ‘holes’.
  • Get some business cards printed. These can be handed out to any person you think may be able to help you. And they show you are serious and professional with your hobby.
  • Keep a record of any approaches, whether face to face or my any other correspondence and the response you received. This will prevent you approaching the same person twice.

Final Thoughts

One last bit of advice. Don’t give up. Do your research before you approach the owner of the land. Whether on the phone, by email or in person, be very civil, remember you need him more than he needs you. Be professional at all times and try not to take any rejection personally. If is very easy to get down when you get rejection after rejection, but just think, that pot of gold and that one big permission, could be just around the corner.