U.S. Federal Permits


Note: 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

UPDATE 2023: The USFWS regional permit offices are dealing with significant backlogs for both new permits and renewals. Please submit your permits as early as possible – up to 6 months before the date you intend to start work/import/export and 9-12 months ahead for endangered species permits. 

Below, we provide information about the various types of federal permits needed in the U.S. Always feel free to contact the Ornithological Council if you have questions about permits or need assistance with your permit applications.

Types of Permits Needed

You will need permits to band/mark birds, collect birds or bird parts as specimens, or import/export bird part to/from the U.S. This chart shows the various types of permits; the links take you to further information, either here on BIRDNET or on agency websites.


Permit needed

Issuing agency


Banding / Marking

Banding permit


Can also collect blood and feathers when banding/marking, if requested in application.

For all MBTA species (may also need ESA permit for listed species)

Scientific Collecting

MBTA Scientific Collecting permit


Required for birds, parts of birds, eggs, and nests for scientific research, including blood samples, feathers, stomach and crop contents, tissue samples, cloacal and tracheal swabs.

For MBTA species (may also need ESA permitfor listed species)

Can request salvage authority so an additional permit is not needed.


Special Purpose Salvage


Can be authorized by Scientific Collecting, Banding, Education permits.

Import (chart serves as summary only – read the OC’s Import Guide before applying for any import permits)

MBTA import permit


For all MBTA species (may also need ESA permit and/or a CITES permit for listed species)

USDA import permit


For some imports (APHIS eFile Permitting Assistant can help determine if a permit is needed)

CDC import permit


For some imports – see Import Guide

Note that you may also need need location-specific permits – for your state and for any federal lands you’l be working on (National Wildlife RefugesPublic Lands managed by BLMNational Forests, and National Parks).

Additional Resource: the OC’s Import Guide 

A Guide to the Processes and Procedures for Importing Bird Products into the United States for Scientific Research and Display: This extensive guide, thoroughly updated in 2020 with additional minor updates as neede, provides a step-by-step guide for ornithologists importing birds or bird products into the U.S. for research and display, including template documents and checklists to follow. This guide is updated as agency permitting requirements change, keeping ornithologists in compliance with the many laws and regulations governing the import of bird products. Planning to import birds or bird specimens into the US? Start by reading this GuideIf you have any questions after reading the Import Guide or find areas that require further clarification, please contact the Ornithological Council.

External link: USGS Bird Banding Lab

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

External link: APHIS Permits page