Permits ~ US Federal


Federal permits can be somewhat challenging, especially because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies that require permits have suffered increasingly serious staffing shortages over the past decade. The agency’s own regulation states, “the Service will process all applications as quickly as possible. However, we cannot guarantee final action within the time limit you request.”

The Ornithological Council recommends that you submit all permit applications at least 90 calendar days prior to the date you intend to start work/import/export but in the case of endangered species permits, allow up to six months. The processing of endangered (but not threatened) species permits requires publication in the Federal Register, along with a 30-day public comment period.

In September 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a new online permit system. As of December 2020, some USFWS permits are available on the new system and some are not; for those that are not yet available as epermits, you must still download, complete, and return your permit application. Information is provided in each category below as to whether the permit is available yet as an epermit. 

To help you to help the agency expedite your permit applications, the Ornithological Council has published an article outlining “application best practices.”

Always feel free to contact the Ornithological Council if you have questions about permits or need assistance with your permit applications.

OC Import Guide (updated July 2020)

A Guide to the Processes and Procedures for Importing Bird Products into the United State for Scientific Research and Display

If you have any questions after reading the Import Guide or find areas that require further clarification, please contact the Ornithological Council.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act permits

Permits to work on public lands

Endangered Species Act permits 

CITES permits and Certificates of Scientific Exchange

External link: U.S. Fish & Wildife Service Permits page