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Permits

Research Permits from the Costa Rican Government

Research permits are required by the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) for research conducted anywhere in the country for both scientific research (projects) and academic research (courses).

OTS can support researchers and faculty throughout the permit process. The permit process and requirements vary by permit type. OTS charges for this service and the fee varies by permit type.

If you are researcher planning a project, please read the Scientific Research Section.

If you are faculty planning a course, please read the Academic (Course) Research Section.

For any questions or to request OTS support with a permit, please contact Enrique Castro.


1. Scientific Research

Scientific research may require a permit from two different institutions of MINAE:

CONAGEBIO: The National Commission for the Management of Biodiversity (CONAGEBIO) specifically regulates any work involving genetic or biochemical methods. See additional information on the CONAGEBIO website.

SINAC: The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) generally regulates research in Costa Rica not related to CONAGEBIO. It is the most common permit to be required. See additional information on the SINAC website.

According to SINAC, a Scientific Research Permit is an administrative act by which a person is authorized to carry out research activities that may or may not involve collecting wild organisms (but it does not authorize genetic and biochemical research methods). Costa Rica is organized into eleven Conservation Areas managed by SINAC; the permit will be submitted to each Conservation Area where the research will be conducted.

Please allow approximately 30 business days for processing time once all requirements are completed.

SINAC permits include several components that may be required depending on the project methods. In addition to the research permit, researchers may also need a collecting license, and export permit.

By law, SINAC requires all documents in Spanish.

Scientific Research Permit
Required for all research conducted in the country including private and public lands. Includes projects with or without collection or manipulation of habitat.
Requirements
SINAC application form

Note: This form should be sent to Costa Rica by courier after OTS staff review, with a hand-written signature (not scanned or jpeg), using one of these ways:

Via Courier (FedEx, DHL, UPS etc.):

Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OET)
Attn: Lisbeth Meléndez / Enrique Castro
Ciudad de la Investigación, UCR
De la entrada adjunta a LANAMME (Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales de la UCR) 400 mts Norte del portón acceso, edificio de ladrillo rojo.
Postal code: 11502
San José, Costa Rica
Tel: 2524-0607

Via mail:

Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OET)
Attn: Enrique Castro Fonseca
Apartado 16
Puerto Viejo Sarapiquí, 41001
Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: 2524-0607 ext. 2320

Click here for the form
Main researcher´s CV (short version, 2 or 3 pages)
Copy of main researcher´s passport or ID
Research project description form Click here for the form
Property owner´s letter(s): OTS will provide a letter for access to OTS-owned research sites. If your project requires access to other private properties, please add a letter authorizing your access for each property (hand-written signature or digitally signed). Click here for the template
OTS Service Fee
CR Nationals and Residents Foreigners
OTS Member institutions $50 $90
OTS Non-member institutions $75 $115
Result
An official resolution for each conservation area, valid for 6 months for foreigners and 12 months for Costa Rican nationals and residents.

SINAC requires a report 3 months after the permit expires. Click here for the template.

 

Scientific Collecting License
Required for each researcher or assistant collecting organisms (temporarily or permanently) or manipulating habitat. To get a collecting license you also must apply a Scientific Research Permit.
Requirements
Note: OTS will provide an endorsement letter supporting the project in Costa Rica if the researcher uses any OTS services or OTS stations. Without this letter, the researcher must have a support letter from the university with official “apostille.” For more info about the apostille process click here. Click here for the template
CV for each person that will be authorized to collect or manipulate habitat (short version, 2 or 3 pages)
Copy of the passport or ID for each person
Digital passport-like photo (jpeg file is ok) for each person
OTS Service Fee
CR Nationals and Residents Foreigners
OTS Member or Non-member institutions $35 $50
Result
A collecting license for each person in each conservation area, valid for 6 months for foreigners and 12 months for Costa Rican nationals and residents.

 

SINAC Export Permit
Required to export samples. You should start the issue process 30 days before your departure date. In the application form, you must specify exactly what needs to be exported and the final destination for the samples.

Note: Some samples (including, but not limited to) living organisms, material for a CITES organism, blood, or feces, require additional permits (i.e. phytosanitary permits). Please contact Enrique Castro for additional information.

Note: If you will export samples, SINAC will also provide an ATM document (Acuerdo de Trasferencia de Material/Material Transfer Agreement) to be signed by the main researcher.

Requirements
Export permit application form with a hand-written signature Click here for the form
Sworn statement letter, declaring that samples will be used for the purposes established with a hand-written signature (not scanned or jpeg).

Click here for the template

Copy of the passport or ID
OTS Service Fee
OTS Member or Non-member institutions: nationals or foreigners $55
Result
Export permit signed and stamped by SINAC.

In Costa Rica, biochemical and genetic resources and elements (components) of biodiversity are public domain assets; the government authorizes access to these components through the National Commission for the Management of Biodiversity (CONAGEBIO).

If your scientific research includes any of the following methods, among others, you must apply for a CONAGEBIO permit:

  • Genetics: DNA barcoding, DNA/RNA sequencing, molecular markers, PCR, electrophoresis, genomics and proteomics, genetic improvement, molecular phylogeny, molecular taxonomy
  • Biochemistry: Chromatography, mass spectrometry, extractions, compounds purification, primary and secondary metabolites, distillation, ELISA and hormonal analyzes

Please allow approximately 90 days for processing time once all requirements are completed and if the collecting areas only include La Selva and Las Cruces Research Stations.

If your project includes National Parks or several private properties, the processing time could increase. Please estimate one to three additional months for processing all of the requirements for non-OTS properties. It is the researcher´s responsibility to locate private property owners and work with them to gain access to their properties and acquire all of the required signed documents.

A CONAGEBIO permit is valid for up 36 months (renewable). In addition, this permit allows the export of samples with no need for an additional permit.

By law, CONAGEBIO requires all documents in Spanish.

CONAGEBIO Permit Requirements
Project information form that includes dates, methods, sites, etc. (CONAGEBIO refers to this form as the “technical guide.”) Click here for the form
Personal information form, one per person collecting or exporting samples Click here for the form
Sworn statement letter, accepting all CONAGEBIO regulations Click here for the template
Project description in Spanish (research proposal)
Copy of passport or ID for the Main researcher and others associated with the project
Letter that designates legal representation in Costa Rica Click here for the template
CPI: Consentimiento previamente informado/Informed prior consent. This requirement is an agreement with each property owner about the conditions to access the genetic or biochemical biodiversity elements. OTS will provide the template.
OTS Service Fee
CR Nationals and Residents Foreigners
OTS Member institutions $150 $250
OTS Non-member institutions $200 $300

 

CONAGEBIO Stages Duration
Complete all of the requirements Depends on researcher
OTS submits all requirements to the CONAGEBIO web platform One week
CONAGEBIO project revision  

Approx. three months

CONAGEBIO request for corrections
Researcher makes the corrections and OTS submits the changes to the web platform
CONAGEBIO approves the “technical guide” (project information form)
Researcher prepares and requests the CPI with private property owners, as well as completes the same process for any public lands.

Note: For private properties, the CPI process could begin when the CONAGEBIO review process begins, but the review process could generate some necessary changes to the CPI documents.

One month to six months depending on the amount of properties
Arrange for an appointment to sign all documents at the CONAGEBIO office in San Jose, Costa Rica.

 

Note: Documents must be signed in person by the researcher. Another option is for the researcher to arrange to have “Apostille” documents accepted; please contact Enrique Castro for additional information.

Depends on the researcher’s and CONAGEBIO´s schedule
CONAGEBIO final approval One week after signature
Result
Permit valid for all properties for 36 months. The permit includes an export permit.

2. Academic (Course) Research

MINAE also requires permits for academic courses that will conduct field activities involving biodiversity. The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) will issue the permit for academic research. Costa Rica is organized into eleven Conservation Areas managed by SINAC; the course permit will be submitted to each Conservation Area where the academic research will be conducted.

Please see the following table to determine which permits your course will need. The required permits vary by course and are determined by whether your course will conduct activities on private or public lands and whether the activities include biodiversity collection, and/or habitat manipulation:

Required Permits
Where do field activities take place? Will the course be collecting samples and/or manipulating habitat? * No Permit Academic Research Permit without Collection Academic Research Permit with Collection
Private lands: La Selva or Las Cruces Research Station, farms, other field stations, etc. No, observation only X**
Yes X
Public lands: Government protected areas like National Parks, Palo Verde Research Station, etc. No, observation only X
Yes X

*Note: If your course intends to export samples and/or perform genetic or biochemical methods, you must apply for Scientific Research Permits.

**Note: You must still have the property owner´s permission (i.e. OTS approval).

OTS can assist throughout the academic permit process. OTS facilitation of your academic course permit or licenses has associated fees.

Please allow approximately 30 business days for processing time once all requirements are completed.

Please read the following sections about course permits. To begin the permit process, please send an email to Enrique Castro outlining your proposed field activities. OTS will review your proposal and evaluate your need for a SINAC permit, as well as make recommendations to minimize impact to biodiversity.

Academic Research Permit without Collection
Required for academic research without collection or manipulation of habitat.
Requirements
SINAC application form

Note: This form should be sent to Costa Rica by courier after OTS staff review, with a hand-written signature (not scanned or jpeg), using one of these ways:

Via Courier (FedEx, DHL, UPS etc.):

Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OET)
Attn: Lisbeth Meléndez / Enrique Castro
Ciudad de la Investigación, UCR
De la entrada adjunta a LANAMME (Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales de la UCR) 400 mts Norte del portón acceso, edificio de ladrillo rojo.
Postal code: 11502
San José, Costa Rica
Tel: 2524-0607

Via mail:

Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OET)
Attn: Enrique Castro Fonseca
Apartado 16
Puerto Viejo Sarapiquí, 41001
Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: 2524-0607 ext. 2320

Click here for the form
Main professor´s CV (short version, 2 or 3 pages)
Copy of professor´s passport or ID
Course description form Click here for the form
OTS Service Fee
CR Nationals and Residents Foreigners
OTS Member institutions

$50

$90

OTS Non-member institutions

$75

$115

Result
An official resolution for each conservation area, valid for the dates specified in the application (maximum 6 months for foreigners and 12 months for residents and nationals).

 

Academic Research Permit with Collection
Required for academic research that includes collecting or manipulating habitat. You will receive an academic research permit, as well as a collecting license for each professor or assistant authorized to collect or manipulate habitat.
Requirements
SINAC application form

Note: This form should be sent to Costa Rica by courier after OTS staff review, with a hand-written signature (not scanned or jpeg), using one of these ways:

Via Courier (FedEx, DHL, UPS etc.):

Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OET)
Attn: Lisbeth Meléndez / Enrique Castro
Ciudad de la Investigación, UCR
De la entrada adjunta a LANAMME (Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales de la UCR) 400 mts Norte del portón acceso, edificio de ladrillo rojo.
Postal code: 11502
San José, Costa Rica
Tel: 2524-0607

Via mail:

Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OET)
Attn: Enrique Castro Fonseca
Apartado 16
Puerto Viejo Sarapiquí, 41001
Heredia, Costa Rica
Tel: 2524-0607 ext. 2320

Click here for the form
Course description form Click here for the form
Letter of official endorsement issued by the institution that supports or finances the course.

Note: OTS will provide an endorsement letter supporting the project in Costa Rica if the researcher use any OTS services or OTS stations. Without this letter, the researcher must require a letter from the university with official “apostille.” For more info about apostille process click here.

Click here for the template
CV for the main professor and each person authorized to collect (short version, 2 or 3 pages)
Copy of the passport or ID for each person
Digital Passport-like photo (jpeg file is ok) for each person
Property owner´s letter(s): For many courses, the only letter required would be from OTS. If your course requires access to other private properties please add a letter your access for each property (hand-written signature or digitally signed) authorizing. Click here for the template
OTS Service Fee
CR Nationals and Residents Foreigners
Permit OTS Member institutions

$50

$90

Permit OTS Non-member institutions

$75

$115

Each Collecting license – OTS Member or non-member institutions

$35

$50

Result
An academic research permit resolution, as well as a collecting license for each authorized person for each conservation area, valid for the dates specified in the application (maximum 6 months for foreigners and 12 months for residents and nationals).