How To Get Landowners and Farmers Permission To Metal Detect

Wherever you go metal detecting (apart from UK Crown estate beaches) you WILL need permission from the landowner. If you do not get permission you could be in some serious trouble with the law. 

Perhaps the most stressful thing about the hobby of metal detecting is getting permission from landowners to allow you to metal detect on their land.

Over the years I’ve been metal detecting I’ve quit and sold my equipment perhaps 3 times, largely due to having nowhere to go.

It wasn’t until I implemented the following advice I will give you in this guide, that I found myself with lots of permissions and enough land to last a life time.


Give up calling landowners on the telephone.

Stop posting on Facebook Groups.

I’m not saying the above doesn’t ever work, because I myself have had one or two from the thousands of letters, phone calls and posts I’ve put out there.

What I am saying is it’s a waste of time and there are more successful ways to get metal detecting land permissions.

Especially if you want to end up with some good places to go metal detecting.

When you make that phone call you have to bare in mind its easy for them to just put the phone down, in fact this is 2022 many people do not like getting phone calls. I know I don’t!

Facebook posts are just annoying now. Too many people are doing the same thing and in the same groups which just gets peoples backs up from the very start.

What you need to remember is that permissions is hard to get and be prepared for many No’s, however keep persevering with my advice and you will get there.

Here’s the most successful ways to get permission to metal detect.

Knock on doors.

The most successful way of getting permission without a shadow of a doubt is to knock on the doors and speak to landowners directly.

90% of my metal detecting permissions have been gained this way.

However don’t expect every person who answers the door to be kind, happy to see you or at all interested in what you are about to ask.

I’ll often go for a drive, take a look at where the farm houses or farms are nearby to the field where I want to detect and just pull in.

Knock on the door, be polite, apologise for the intrusion, explain why you are there and talk about your passion for the local history. Don’t tell them you metal detect to make money!

A great idea once you have some interesting finds is to take them with you to show the landowner, this can often peak curiosity and swing things in your favour.

Once you have asked for permission another tip is to stay completely silent and await your answer, its an old sales technique that really can help.

Don’t be too pushy and remember your manners, if its a no, ask if you can leave your contact details in case they ever change their mind.

Move on to the next.

Remember the more doors you knock at the more chance you have of getting a permission.

Ask family and friends.

Sometimes its much easier to get onto land if you have an introduction or connection the the land owner.

I’ve gained metal detecting permissions by doing this quite a few times, I ask my friends if they know of any landowners/farmers, then I ask if they could ask the question.

If your friend or family member knows the landowner personally its like they are vouching for you which can really help with a yes.

The more friends and family you ask the more chance you have of getting some land to metal detect on.

Local Bars/Pubs.

Depending on where you live another tactic to getting metal detecting land permissions is to frequent pubs/bars.

Get to know people in there, don’t just delve right in to ask.

I live in the UK so have met many landowners and people who know landowners in village pubs and got to know them a little first before asking the question.

I’m not sure if this is the same in the USA, but either way the more people you get to know the more chance you have of finding someone with land or that knows someone with land that can introduce you.

Offer Your Services.

If you have a trade or skill that you think could be of service to the landowner, why not offer an exchange?

You do a job for them in return for permission to metal detect their land.

Unfortunately I don’t have much to offer but I always tell the landowner that if there’s anything they need help with just to ask.

I do know of people that have done small jobs for free for landowners and ended up with permissions.

You’re more likely to be able to get a yes if you can offer the landowner something in return.

Send a letter

Although I really do believe that writing a letter is not the best way to get permission. It’s a lot of hard work for a very very low success rate. As low as 1%. I once sent out 100 letters and had 1 yes (and it was a one time thing)

That being said you may have more luck and if you’re not confident and haven’t had luck with other methods then its worth a try.

I’ve seen many peoples posts and letters over the years and some you’d just not even read.

So here’s a template I’ve wrote for you, you can fill in the blanks or amend. Just to give you an idea of how a metal detecting letter should be.

Metal Detecting Permission Letter Template

Metal Detecting Permission Letter Template.

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