Collecting Permits

Last update: August 2014

I am often asked for tips on collecting localities and more-so about whether or not a permit is required.  I have broken down the rules for the US here, and started to add other countries as I dig up the details.  All of this information will pertain to noncommercial (scientific) use only.  Please comment if you notice any inaccuracies or have any additions or suggestions.  I am attempting to consolidate this information, not provide an infallible resource.  Do not rely solely on my advice because this information is subject to change, you should always call ahead and make contacts in that country before you swing a net.

Acquiring permission to legally collect is critical and should not be ignored.  If you are building a collection in hopes of donating it to a museum one day, this is a detail you can not avoid.  Most institutions require evidence that all of your specimens were obtained legally.  Illegal collecting will also eventually put you on the radar of the USFWS and may result in fines, confiscations and possibly jail time if you really flaunt the law.  Illegal (or sometimes even legal!) collecting in other countries can easily land you in jail – we have all heard the horror stories.

USA: Here is a list of federally protected species.  Many states also have additional state protected species that are illegal to collect.  I have not been able to find a comprehensive list, but each state’s wildlife department will have a list which you should check before collecting.

  • Private Land: Permission granted by landowner.
  • Public Lands/BLM: Permit usually not required.  Most BLM property is governed by the Wilderness Act of 1964 which (with recent updates) has separated scientific from “casual” non-commercial collecting.  Under Section 6302.15 “You may remove or disturb natural resources for non-commercial purposes in wilderness areas”.  So, collecting is permitted as long as it remains non-commercial, maintains the wilderness environment and is not previously restricted.  Insects are never mentioned but the regulation is vague.  Areas designated as “Special Areas”, such as National Monuments, Research Natural Areas or Wilderness usually do require permits.  It seems like there is a lot of leeway given to whomever is interpreting the law at the moment.   If you are unsure, contact the local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) office and ask.
  • National Forests: No permit required for recreational collecting.  All forests and grasslands are completely free range for collectors.  Keep in mind that rangers still do have the authority to close an area and ask you to leave, but this has never been my experience.  You should always call ahead and ask if you are unfamiliar with the area.  I also always carry a copy of the NFS letter to collectors just in case, download the new 2011 letter to collectors, and the original USFWS Collecting Letter here (.pdf).  Wilderness areas within forests are often closed to collecting, but ask ahead.  One strange rule that the NFS does have is that all scientific collecting requires a permit.  I assume they want to know about official research being conducted in their parks, but this line can be really fuzzy in my opinion.  I have gone on recreational collecting trips and discovered something that ends up in a publication.  Since the majority of my collecting is personally funded, I go ahead and assume it is recreational.
  • State Parks:Permit required in most states.  The only current exceptions that I know of are Michigan (thank you HDK) and Oklahoma, where they don’t care about collecting.  Some states will allow recreational collecting at the discretion of the park ranger, and you just have to call ahead and ask or show up with cookies.  More often than not a permit will be required.  This process hasn’t been too difficult in my experiences in IL or CA, and there are no wacky rules about specimen ownership and getting state-wide access is possible.  Having an institutional affiliation may be very helpful, but not required (each state is different I’m sure).  Applying for state permits has been a fast process in my experience, usually taking only a few weeks for approval.
  • Nature Preserves: Permit required.Many states have designated nature preserves or reserves and they are often governed by a separate entity from state parks.  The Nature Preserve Commission in Illinois requires a separate permit for every site you want to work in.  It also takes them 60-90+ days for approval, plan ahead accordingly!
  • National Wildlife Refuge: Permit required.  All refuges are strictly off-limits without a permit, and rules regulating your impact while on the refuge are strict.  Having a specific research target and institutional affiliation is required, along with detailed reports and specific institutions for deposition of specimens.  Any specimens collected on a NWR will remain property of the reserve system for perpetuity, and any future research on these specimens must be accompanied by written approval by the refuge.  That being said, more often than not those details are a technicality and not strictly enforced.  Every experience I have had with a NWR has been a great one; they are always run by well-educated biologists who understand the nature of research and are eager to learn about your discoveries.  They also tend to turn around a permit very quickly, I have never waited more than a week for approval.
  • National Parks:  Permit required.  Obtaining a permit for a park is extremely difficult and time-consuming.  Having never done it myself I do not know the full details, but there are many similarities to wildlife refuges.  In the case of a NP absolutely all specimens have to be deposited into an institution and identified by a unique reference code.  The NPS retains ownership and the right to call-back specimens if needed.  There are also long lists of rules that must be followed while within the park, including staying out of sight of tourists.  Permit approval can take many months if you are lucky.  Really does not seem worth the hassle.
  • National Monuments and Recreation Areas: Permit required.  Usually governed by the National Park Service and therefore obtaining a permit is difficult and mired in bureaucratic red tape.  However, some monuments are operated by the National Forest Service, BLM or other state agency – which means they are semi-autonomous and much more efficient.  Call ahead and ask, each one is different.
  • Land Trusts/Private Reserves:  There are countless private land trusts that act as independent preserves and all have their own process for permits. The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Society are a few larger ones – but local communities and private foundations can even have their own. While they are not governed by state agencies they are usually very cooperative and easy to work with regarding research permits.  Some trusts may require a state collecting permit before applying for theirs.

ANGUILLA:  Info via Caribbean Research Resources (CRR).

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA:  Info via CRR.

ARUBA:  Info via CRR.

AUSTRALIA: Exceedingly difficult to obtain permits.  Even with a permit, only a few representatives of each species you collect may leave the country.

BARBADOS:  Info via CRR.

BELGIUM:  Illegal to collect any federally listed species.  Private land: no permits needed.  Nature Reserves: permission often granted if you are collecting less well-known species.  If you promise a list of everything you collect and avoid things like butterflies then you will probably be granted permission.  Several of the large forests in the south will allow some day collecting but night access is restricted without permission.  Ask nicely and promise a list of species collected.  Here are links for permits in Flanders (north) and Wallonia (south).

BELIZE: Permits required for insect collecting and can take approximately 3+ months to process and cost $100USD.  If you are requesting to work in any conservation area, you must provide detailed contact information for your collaborators – they will be contacted (once), and if they don’t respond, your application does not move forward.  Expect to call regularly to check on your permit, and plan on spending a day in Belmopan to finalize the permit (or arrange to have a local collaborator take care of last minute details and payment).  Application can be found here. (info via John Shuey, thank you!)

BOLIVIA: Apparently Bolivia has made it very difficult to conduct research within the last few years.  The permitting process is very slow and can take 6 months or more, with no guarantee that the paperwork will come through in time.  Additionally, submission of the export permit requires approval that usually requires that all of your insects be shipped out of the country after you depart.  The export permit also requires all specimens to be identified to SPECIES, even if it’s Papilio sp. A, B, C… etc.  An expedition by a large US Museum in 2007 ended with all collected specimens being left in Bolivia awaiting export permits.  As of 2010, the specimens are still awaiting approval for shipment.  But perhaps you could have better luck, try contacting the Museuo de Historia Natural.

BRAZIL: Forget it.  OK – it is possible to obtain research permits for this notoriously difficult country. Although fairly difficult to achieve, Brazilian researchers who are in possession of IBAMA permits may be able to include foreign researchers on their permit to cover specific collaborative research projects that involve collecting and export of specimens.  Expect to work closely with potential collaborators during the application process, and plan on at least 9 months (or more) to move the many forms though many government offices.

CANADA: Much like the USA, Canada limits collecting in Nature preserves, Federal, Regional and Provincial parks to permit only. Provincial forests should be open to collecting like the US National Forests, but I am personally unaware of a statement clarifying the situation.

CARIBBEAN ISLANDS:  The Caribbean Research Resources website is incredibly helpful!  I’ve broken down some of their specific information here with links to the CRR site.

CAYMAN ISLANDS:  Info via CRR.

COLOMBIA:  Sounds like they are making permits all but impossible to obtain with contracts needed and fees reaching nearly $10,000.  This article discusses this new legislation that went into effect 28 December 2011.

COSTA RICA: Permits required.  Costa Rica is a very environmentally conscious country and is very vigilant about its biological treasures.  Because much of Latin America relies on hand-checked luggage your boxes of insects stand a high chance of being discovered, so do not risk it.  Their rules are strict enough that they even confiscate tourist’s seashells.  If you have a research project and institutional affiliation than obtaining a permit is easy.  Plan your destinations ahead of time and figure out what provinces you will be focusing on.  Each province in CR has a national branch that issues its own permits, which is spectacular because it speeds up the entire process and gives you a regional person to meet and talk to.  All permits are granted through the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energia y Telecomunicaciones (MINAET).  The local office is usually located within the regional national park, and most people speak broken english at worst.  Permits for Guanacaste are linked to at the very bottom of this page, with corresponding contact emails listed.  A standard project proposal, CV and basic information form is required for submission.  Once approved you are issued the paperwork on site when you arrive and a “collecting passport”, which is literally a passport like book with your image that grants you access to your approved areas.  The guy who issues you the permits will also help you fill out the export permit before you leave the country (pretty standard, list things as best you can to family if possible).  All in all, a very well oiled system that operates very efficiently.

CROATIA: Collecting is banned but it is possible to get permit from The Croatian Natural History Museum (Hrvatski prirodoslovni muzej). (according to Zdenek in the comments)

CUBA: Travel to Cuba for US Citizens is restricted but IS permitted for professionals conducting research.  Permits to travel there can be obtained via the Department of Treasure and this website.  As far as collecting permits you should find a local scientist and contact them (and then bring me with you).

CZECH REPUBLIC: No permits required for non-protected lands or protected species (as per Natura-2000 + a few others). Permits are issued by Departments for Environment, Agriculture and Forestry under Regional Bureaus (Krajsky urad, Odbor zivotniho prostredi, zemedelstvi a lesnictvi), if you need to collect in protected areas, you should ask relevant Nature Conservation Agency (http://www.nature.cz). (thanks to commenter Zdenek)!

DOMINICA:  Permits issued through the Forestry and Wildlife Division.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Permit required, but easy to obtain.  There are standard application procedures, similar to Costa Rica.  This is the page with application for research in protected areas (SAP-005 Form).  Here is a very detailed guide for obtaining permits in the DR.  It sounds like you will be able to hire Kelvin as a “consultant” who will help assure the permit process is completed. (This is not a paid endorsement, I have never used Kelvin’s services and can not vouch for him personally).

ECUADOR: Another difficult Latin American country to collect.  Permits are all issued through the Ministerio del Ambiente.  The entire system is fraught with infighting and red tape.  But, permits can still be obtained if you make a contact within the Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales.  Ecuador has large problems with drug smuggling and they are preoccupied with more serious crimes than insect collecting, so once a permit is obtained, you will not be hassled.  50% of collected species must be deposited in the national collection before departing the country.  A more detailed account of Ecuadorian permit issues here.

FIJI: Permit is only required for collecting on the national preserves, but most of the island is privately owned  and landowner permission is needed.  Export permit is required to leave the country and your insects must be inspected at a local biosecurity office before the permit is issued (one at the airport in Nadi).  They briefly check to make sure everything is dead and there is no plant or soil contamination.  There are also no legally protected species.  (Information directly from the Fijian Dept. of Environment, relayed through Hollie’s comment below, thanks!)

FINLAND: Collecting permits only required for protected species and nature reserves (Plenty of protected areas are not marked). Collecting with traps is prohibited on the Åland Islands. Export permits required.  Make a contact at the Finnish Museum of Natural History or University of Helsinki and that person could help guide you through any permits required (permits issued through “ELY centers).  Access to most private lands is not highly restricted, limited camping is permitted out of sight of homes – but permission is always good to obtain, especially when collecting.  (See comment below from Juha & Jyrki).

FRANCE: No permits required, except within National Parks.  France is very collector friendly, but as in many countries there are protected species to carefully avoid.  (Thanks to Opequin for this info).

FRENCH GUIANA: Collecting is allowed in all areas outside of National Parks.  There are also many collecting friendly tourist lodges that regularly host entomologists.

FRENCH WEST INDIES: As above, there are no permits required to collect on their Caribbean territories, excluding National Parks.

GERMANY: Complex.  Light trapping is forbidden without permit, which needs to be purchased from a “Regierungspräsidium“.  You should make contacts with a local museum who can help you with that process.  Day collecting is generally OK outside of preserves.  Check the protected species list here.  (Thanks to nomihoudai on the insectnet forums for this info.)

GRENADA:  Info via CRR.

GUADELOUPE:  Info via CRR.

HUNGARY:  Permits required for collecting on National Parks, Landscape Conservation Areas and simple Protected Natural Areas. Permits cost about 70 Euro. However, collecting outside of those areas is unregulated except for protected species (mainly butterflies), found here: PDF. (Thank you Koy Tóbiás)

INDIA: Forget it.

INDONESIA: Permits required and difficult to obtain.  Permits go by the acronym “LIPI” are issued by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, but they have a great website for this entire process.  I believe there is a strict quota per species, regardless of CITES status.

ISRAEL: Permit is required for collecting in nature reserves and national parks, or when collecting legally protected species (there are currently 14 species of protected butterflies, and several additional insect species being considered for legal protection). In privately owned lands, landowner permission is needed. Permits are issued by Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), however their website is not exactly scientist-friendly, with most forms written in the Hebrew language. Contact the Supervision and Enforcement Division u.achifa@npa.org.il, or the Science and Conservation Division u.mada@npa.org.il for details regarding how to obtain a collecting permit. Export permit is required to leave the country with the specimens and is obtained from either the NPA or the Plant Protection and Inspection Services (PPIS), depending on the species in question. (Thank you to Gil Wizen for this information)

ITALY:  Very collector friendly, permits required only for national parks – and in general like much of Europe there is a list of protected species that are off limits. (does anyone have that list?)

JAMAICA:  Permits required through the National Environment and Planning Agency and can take 6 weeks or up to 2 months.  Here is the Jamaica Wildlife Research Application (.doc).

LUXEMBOURG: All trapping is prohibited (bait, light, etc.)  Day collecting is allowed for Pieris, all other butterflies protected. Saturniidae, Sphingidae and Catocala species can not be collected.  Permits can be obtained from the Ministry of the Environment, but are reserved for legitimate research projects.  (Thanks to nomihoudai on the insectnet forums for this info.)

MALAYSIA: Permits are issued through the Wildlife Department, and it looks like an extensive process.  Give at least six moths for approval.

MARTINIQUE:  Info via CRR.

MEXICO:  Very difficult.  Permits are only granted to Mexican scientists and even collecting on private land without permit is illegal.  Collecting in MX requires that you be added under a scientist who has a permit and will sponsor your research.  Donating representatives of your collections back to that Mexican institution are also required. Further information is available here through the embassy.

NETHERLAND ANTILLES:  Info via CRR – North Islands and South.

NEW ZEALAND: The application process is described here. It is best to start the process at least six months prior to the research trip, as it may involve several offices from different regions of the country. If you want to collect insects and take them out of the country from conservation land then a research and collection permit from Department of Conservation (DOC) is required. To get one, start by contacting the local offices in those areas you intend to collect in. Determine which species you are going to collect, and whether they are considered “taonga” (culturally significant for the Māori people), or legally protected. In case of “taonga” species, further iwi consultation may be required. DOC used to have a system to determine if the collecting has high or low impact (permit type and fees vary) but it seems this was recently changed. If the species you want to work on is protected by the Wildlife Act you will need to apply for Wildlife Act Authorisation.
If you want to collect insects and take them out of the country from private land, DOC does not need to be involved unless these are
species protected by the Wildlife Act (follow the above link). However, prior permission from the landowner is a must.
New Zealand takes its natural resources very seriously, so be prepared to have your luggage thoroughly searched when leaving the country, even if you have the permits in hand. (Thank you to Gil Wizen for this information)

NORWAY: Collecting permits required for protected land and permits usually issued only to researchers.  There are 5 protected butterflies you must avoid, Parnassius apollo, P. mnemosyne, Plebejus argyrognomon, Scolitantides orion, and Coenonympha hero. Permits should be sent to the appropriate county governor for the region of your interest.

PANAMA:  Information via the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Research permits are available through the National Research Institute for $41. Also checkout this non-profit research center that looks like a wealth of information.

PUERTO RICO:  All permits for PR and outlaying islands of Isla Mona, Culebra, Vieques, and Isla de Caja de Muertos are handled through the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales.  Once a permit is issued travel to the islands of Mona and Caja de Muertos can be arranged for FREE – contact Wendy Bonetta for further information (wboneta@drna.gobierno.pr).  (via Caribbean Research Resources)

SAINT BARTHELEMY:  Info via CRR.

SAINT KITTS & NEVIS:  Info via CRR.

SLOVAKIA: Permits required for all areas, especially parks and preserves. Start with the Ministry of Environment.

SLOVENIA: Permits required, start with the Ministry of Environment. Protected areas highlighted on the Conservation Atlas.

SOLOMON ISLANDS:  As of 2003 there is a total ban on the export of all wildlife.  Scientific research is supposed to be allowed, but I am unaware of any permits issued.

SPAIN:  All collecting prohibited in all areas without permits.  Permits can be obtained through the Ministry of Environment, but each autonomous area requires their own permits.  Additional species are protected, such as Graellsia isabellae, but specific lists should be acquired from the permitting agency before collecting begins.

SWITZERLAND: Permits (autorisation exceptionnelle) required for protected areas and/or protected species and vary within each Canton.  A local branch of the “forest service” should be contacted before collecting (Service des Forets et du Paysage).  Here is the form for collecting in Geneva and for Valais. (Thanks to Archie in the comments below) 

TAIWAN: Collecting in unprotected areas allowed, but keep a safe distance from National Parks and be aware of protected species.

THAILAND: Collecting outside of protected areas allowed without permit.  However, carefully avoid these protected species (and Actias rhodopneuma). Contact the Forest Protection Office for more details. This site also has some good tips.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO:  Info via CRR.

TURKEY: Collecting permits required everywhere, see comments below from Geir Gogstad.

TURKS & CAICOS: Info via CRR.

UNITED KINGDOM: Similar to the USA, permits are required for land owned by the National Trust, Forestry Commisssion, National Parks, English Nature and local & national Nature Reserves.  Public lands are free to collect on.  And as in most countries, avoid protected species.  (Thanks to Matt Smith for this info, see comments).

US VIRGIN ISLANDS:  Permits required for the possession of “ANY indigenous island species”.  However this website is vague and lists only birds, bats and fish as animals that require permits.  As in a few US states insects may not legally count as animals and are not regulated.  Try to contact the USFWS field offices before visiting and collecting.  Export permits however would still be required.  There are 4 US endangered insects and 3 endangered arachnids on the island.

 

Safe Collecting!

Tvärminne Zoological Station, Finland

 

77 comments to Collecting Permits

  • HDK

    no State Park permit required in Michigan. never has been.

  • Opequin

    FRANCE

    No permit needed in France, amateur entomologists are welcome.

    Some species are protected : http://www.lepinet.fr/especes/protegees/liste_nation.php?e=p

    You can collect everywhere except in National Parks

  • Dave Rolfe

    Looks like basically the entire Papilionidae and most of the other butterflies of Thailand are protected. The list does not include Actias rhodopneuma which is now also protected.
    In the U.K. Permits are required for land owned by the National Trust, Forestry Commisssion, National Parks, English Nature and local & national Nature Reserves. These can be obtained from the relevant authorities but you need a very good reason to be collecting there. Apart from that, private land is as in other countries, with land owner’s permission. Common land can be collected any time but it is usually quite public so you could be in for grief from locals.
    Dave

  • Dave Rolfe

    Oh, forgot to mention, there are several protected species of butterfly and moth here. A list can be gotten from Natural England, see their website, or Butterfly Conservation.

  • Nice site.

    The list of UK species cited on the Wikipedia page is not the list of legally protected UK species. To see the correct list of all species including inverts go to http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/wca81-schedule5_tcm6-11356.pdf.

    Note that when a species is only partly protected, the phrase “sale only” – - also includes collecting for the purpose of exchange. This means you can collect for your own collection but cannot collect sell or exchange the species without a licence.

  • Hollie Leavitt

    I am planning a trip to Fiji in August and am very interested in collecting insects there for a university collection. This is my first time attempting to collect in a foreign country and I know only that I need collecting permits and export permits. Do you have any idea whom I might contact to obtain these permits for Fiji?

    Any leads would be greatly appreciated

  • Hollie Leavitt

    Thanks Chris. I will do that and promise to get back to you when I figure out what is needed/who should be contacted to collect in Fiji.

  • Claude Tessier

    Hi from Canada!
    I am wondering about collecting permits in Panama? Anybody knows?

      • Claude Tessier

        Thank you …but I had found that source as well. I gather that they are taking about research collecting permit, but it doesn’t apply to us private citizen, making a private collection, or does it? Is my interpretation of the information on that site correct?
        That still leave me with the question: do I need a permit to go, collect and leave without any problem?

        • I’m pretty sure you still need a permit. If you aren’t doing a research collection then you would be considered a “commercial” collector – even if it’s for yourself. This would involve many more complicated permits with lots of expensive fees (and/or bribes). I think the mindset of most permitting agencies is that either you’re a researcher or a seller, there is no middle ground for a private collector to just enjoy a hobby.

          But I encourage you to contact Panamanian officials and ask. You never know! But it might get tricky – you’ll be required to have an export permit regardless of your activity, and it may take a collecting permit to get an export permit…

      • Albert Thurman

        It’s possible to get scientific collecting and export permits for Panama through ANAM if you can get someone at the University of Panama to agree to “support” your research project, and you are affiliated with a University or Museum, even as a “research associate”, as I am with the McGuire Center at the Univ of Florida and the Mississippi Entomological Museum, and not an employee. You don’t have to go through the Smithsonian (STRI) if you can do this. I’ve obtained at least 10 permits since 2007, conducting 2 to 4 week collecting trips with various groups of “assistants” from all over the US, whether or not they are affiliated with a Univ or Museum or not. There’s several forms to be signed, and you have to have an agreement with someone at the Univ of Panama, and send them some identified specimens, but it’s possible if you make the effort, all documentation has to be in Spanish.

  • Roy Alain

    Hello from Québec City, Canada
    I was asking myself if someone knows a prolific state in USA to collect coleopterae during the day and at night in the middle of may.

  • andrewins

    How about New Zealand? Are there any restrictions for insect collectors?

  • Hollie Leavitt

    Hi Chris

    Here’s what I’ve found out about collecting in Fiji after contacting the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji:

    No collecting permits are required unless you are collecting on a national preserve. Most of the land in Fiji is privately owned, so of course you would need permission of the property owner. To get an export permit, you must take the collected and labelled insects to a Biosecurity office (there is one in the airport in Nadi). They will inspect to make sure that everything is dead, and that there are is no soil or plant material and then give the export permit. Currently there are no protected insect species in Fiji, so there is nothing you need to avoid when collecing.

  • Lisa

    Does anyone know about Peru?

    • I don’t know any specifics, but I do believe the collecting of big showy species like Morpho, Agrias, and some beetles is now protected to reduce exploitation. I would really appreciate any details you manage to dig up on permits!

  • Peru, like most other Latin American countries is difficult, but probably the least difficult. Like Ecuador everything needs to signed off by a government affiliated biologist to the species. The problem is that there are only around 10 of these biologists and 4 of them are currently sanctioned for something or other and the others have high fixed prices on the services they offer (bastards). That’s why it’s not to your favor if you’re trying to export only a handful of these things. There’s red tape involved, it’s a pain, but your best bet is to hire someone that has experience in exporting butterflies (like me) and have them take care of all the paperwork. You’ll most likely have to wait about a month to get them, and there are duties involved per butterfly but the duties are minimal and go towards the region in which the butterflies were taken out of. I love Peru, been living here three years now, but dealing with the government agencies can take it’s toll in grey hairs. For more info contact the offices of INRENA here in Peru or shoot me an email.

  • Ben Bolet

    One last thing, big showy species like morpho and agrias are still legal, there are even farms dedicated to raising morpho’s like didius and rhetenors. The only difference is there taxes are a little higher and you cannot export any butterflies during the rainy season, usually from December to March.

    • Thank you for this note Ben! So many countries are headed this way it’s sad, but Peru seems to take the cake with charging per specimen!

      (NB: as a note to readers, I can not personally vouch for Ben’s service he offered above…)

  • Chris,

    I agree to an extent on the way many countries are headed this route, but the Peruvian taxes per specimen are very small, most species are just 1 sol, which is equivalent to $0.27. Granted, when your talking about about a thousand + specimens, this can amount to quite a bit. However, this tax they apply goes towards the CANON Regional tax, directly benefiting the the district in which the butterflies came out of. This also helps regulate the amount of butterflies leaving the area and allows for the regional INRENA offices to be self-sustained. This is one of the very few times I will defend a taxation system, but there really would be no other way to provide a checks and balance system for the export of flora and fauna for both commercial and research means.

    Another thing I forgot to mention is that to export butterflies there’s even a license involved here in Peru, it’s a strenuous process that takes atleast a year, very costly and like getting a license at the DMV you have to pass a difficult Lepidoptera test, then present a plan to the government. After all that you get licensed and that’s another reason why there are only a few people out here that legally do this work. Then again, this is the country with the most species of butterflies in the world and I love my job, the hassle for me is definitely worth it. Not just anybody can do it, but it also protects the rainforest. If it wasn’t for these things it’s possible you have a “butterfly gold rush”. Anyways, this response turned out to be a lot longer than I anticipated.

    Happy Catching…

    -Ben

    • Phew .27 each huh – are you sure this extends to NON-commercial collecting? A standard trip for me would cost over $1000 just to get my specimens out of the country!

      And when it comes to export license I’m certain those do not apply to research permits but for commercial enterprises only. But I’m glad to hear they take things seriously when it comes to issuing these.

  • I should have clarified this, you still need a license to collect butterflies for research, but in these cases I believe that INRENA grants temporary butterfly catching licenses for foreigners for a fee. The process is no where near as grueling as if it’s for research. The problem is, however, justifying to INRENA that a thousand butterflies is for research. You could get help from the authority down here and across much of the globe, Gerardo Lamas, he hangs out and runs the lepidoptera section of the Natural History Museum and is one of the heads, if not the head of the biology department at the state university, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. He’s definitely the go to guy if it’s research related.

    About those $.27 per specimen, I had a friend from the States come down here back in May and we went out catching around the highlands near La Merced area of the Junin district, for his personal collection, nothing commercial. He tried to get around it, I tried to help him get around it, he ended up paying the tax which came out to just under $400. If there is a way around the tax, I am not aware of it.

    -Ben

  • archie

    In Switzerland rules related to collecting permits can be different depending on canton. In Valais a permit (autorisation exceptionnelle) is required for protected species, besides, collecting is not allowed in conservation areas. A permit can be obtained from the cantonal Office for nature and landscapes (Service des forets et du paysage).

  • Juha

    No collecting permits are needed for Finland, so there is no need to contact Fin. Mus. Nat. Hist. Exception is collecting of protected species or nature reserves/parks. Permits for these should not be impossible to get if you have a serious research project. The museum does not give these permits, but the regional environmental agencies. As indicated collecting on privet land is your legal right (even as foreigner), as long as you do not disturb the owner near his home (eg. collecting in his garden is not allowed without permission). And yes, people might be territorial about their mushrooms, berries, etc., but it is still your legal right to pick these. Finns are also very territorial about the private roads (something you may encounter if you move around on the countryside). This is how it works: You are allowed to walk, ride a bike or horse on ALL roads. You are allowed to drive on all roads unless there is an official sign prohibiting this. The owner may have a different opinion… Here are the protected species and what you will have to pay if you get caught: http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=22735

  • Keith Brumwell

    I’m a collector & hobbyist. I’ve been collecting in Mexico, Brazil, Belize & other countries & only in national parks & wildlife sanctuaries have I even been turned away. The first time I came back to the US with butterflies I declared them at customs, I was told to go to the inspection line. I was asked what I was bringing in, I told them. They looked at me like I was from the moon & told me to get out of there & quit wasting their time. So I have never declared them again. I’ve never had a problem. Now I’m planning a trip to Costa Rica in February & I’m wondering if a independant collector can get a permit to collect insects. Thanks

    • Glad you haven’t had any problems, but I would strongly discourage anyone else from trying your strategy. In places like Mexico and Brazil it is specifically illegal to collect without permit, and while the government agencies may not catch on for quite a while you are running a risk of arrest or jail time (or paying heavy bribes).

      You’re right that customs can be hit or miss, I’ve had agents look at me like I’m crazy too. But not declaring importations is illegal, and a customs officer should call Fish and Wildlife when you are telling them what you have. But, once you declare your items it’s out of your hands and in the discretion of the agent; if he says get lost then you’re off the hook. Submitting your 3-177 form is always a good idea too!

    • JC

      Hi
      How the things turn for you in your trip to Costa Rica. I am also planning a trip to Costa Rica next February and any tips could be appreciated.
      Thanks
      JC

  • Virginijus Sruoga

    Hi, do you know about permit requirement in China?

    • I don’t have any specifics on China – I only know that it is possible, but you must have a Chinese collaborator. They will have to join you in the field everywhere you go (possibly with other students/collaborators of theirs) as a condition of the permit; but every experience I have heard about has been a positive one.

  • TJ

    i want to collect in costa rica but i cant read the website -_- what would you think my chances of getting a permit is? i just want to add to my privet collection, i have no affiliation to a collage but i’ve studied insects since i was 3 and had a full collection of Tennessee species by the age of 10. that collection has grown to over 10,000 specimens, im 23 and im getting bored of the same old insects at my light trap but i still have a deep love for dynastes tityus and granti :) i need new opportunities to collect because im addicted to learning about insects and the art of pinning specimens, its just something i need to do before i die

    • If you’re going for fun-collecting than a scientific permit is not what you need and you wouldn’t be granted one without a research goal. Collecting in reserves though is not allowed without one, so I fear those are off-limits to you. You might still be able to legally collect on unprotected land in Costa Rica…but you will still need an export permit. I have no idea how easy or hard that can be without a scientific permit first.

      It seems like the best tropical American country to collect is French Guiana – safe, stable, and no permits needed!

  • Rose Jones

    I make jewelry out of butterfly wings in the US, and up until now have been using only US based sources for my bugs. But, I have recently stumbled across a supplier in Peru, who has offered to ship me “wings only” in laminated sheets. I.e. NOT the whole insects. I am wondering if sheets of wings, coated from both sides, no bodies, would therefore not need to be inspected, as they are really not the insects anymore? Any thoughts on this?
    Thank you!

  • Michael San Jose

    Hi, do you know about permit requirement in the philippines??

    • I believe obtaining permits for the Philippines is very difficult, and may require months of advanced planning. Unfortunately I do not have first had experience with this. When the California Academy embarked on their 2011 expedition permits were handled by a large multidisciplinary team of scientists working with Filipino colleagues – and probably with help from the embassy.

  • Koorosh

    Hi there,
    I was hoping to do some collecting in Turkey in the Dalaman region this September. It’s little more than just pure interest of what wasp and ant species there are, although I am ultimately going to be a Hymenopterist. Not after anything apart from genera and families which aren’t here for me to study in the UK. Any info on collecting here?
    Thank you

    • Can’t say that I’ve heard of anything regarding Turkey. I would look into any sort of environmental ministry and possibly contact your countries consulate in Turkey. Good luck, would love to hear how you do!

  • Benny

    Hello

    Does anyone happen to know, what about permissions for most african countries? I want to collect in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, maybe some more
    Thanks

    Benny

  • The place to get information for Papua New Guinea is from the National Research Institute: http://www.nri.org.pg/services/research_visas/visas.htm.

  • I loved when you said, “Brazil: Forget it”. In fact that is the truth, especially with butterflies (ants, for instance, are much easier to abscond). I find the excessive protectionism in here ridiculous, as the government allows farmer to burn their lands at will. I have been recently to French Guyana and I strongly recommend it to any entomologists.

  • Koy Tóbiás

    HUNGARY: collecting outside “protected natural areas” (there are 3 kinds: National Parks, Landscape Conservation Areas and simple Protected Natural Areas) is allowed by day or night, BUT you are prohibited to collect protected species determined by Hungarian law. The new updated law (including all plant and animal species, not just insects.)has just been published, see:
    http://www.greenfo.hu/uploads/dokumentumtar/magyar-kozlony-2012-evi-128-szama-fedett-fajlista.pdf
    from page 20903.
    Many diurnal butterflies have now become protected, like Gonepteryx rhamni or Argynnis paphia, but do not ask why! In the law after the scientific names you can also find the fine (theorethical value) you get for any specimen you catch without permit, in Hungarian currency (HUF). Good to know, that these species (or any part of them) are also banned to take in or out of the country, no matter where they were collected. This info may be especially important when you are coming from outside EU by car…
    On the other hand, for collecting inside protected areas you need permits. The procedure costs about 70EUR and if you do not have a good reason what you’d like to study and why, most likely you will not get it.

  • George

    Hello, do you know if a permit is required for hobby collecting in South Korea?

  • Nicole

    Do you have any information about collecting or transporting insects from Japan?

    I kinda got into the hobby of drying and displaying insects that were found in and around my home. I’m a military spouse who’s only just started a small collection, and now we’re getting ready to leave Japan, and I’m suddenly finding out how difficult it will be to get my collection to our new duty station in the states… I leave in about 8 weeks, so don’t know how I’ll get permits in time, so I have the bad feeling everything I have will just be thrown away… >_<;

  • Zdenek Faltynek Fric

    In the Czech Republic you can collect everything except protected species (all species included in Natura2000 + some others) and everywhere except National Parks and National Reserves. If you need to collect protected species, the permits are issued by Departments for Environment, Agriculture and Forestry under Regional Bureaus (Krajsky urad, Odbor zivotniho prostredi, zemedelstvi a lesnictvi), if you need to collect in protected areas, you should ask relevant Nature Conservation Agency (http://www.nature.cz). It strongly differs from Slovakia, where all collecting is prohibited and you can get permit for some protected areas but it is difficult to get it for another one… In Turkey, they banned anything, in Greece recently too. For Croatia, the collecting is banned but it is possible to get permit from The Croatian Natural History Museum (Hrvatski prirodoslovni muzej), if you have a reason. In Slovenia you can collect unprotected species.

  • Entomofou

    Hi Chris,

    Very nice website, thx !!

    Some precisions about France :

    National list of protected species of insects (all orders)

    Ile de France regional list of protected species of insects


    La Réunion department list of protected species of insects (first article)

    Moreover, Guadeloupe and Martinique are French departments, so, same rules than in the rest of France (idem for French Guyana). If no species from these places are mentioned in National list of protected species, there is no problem for collecting (Except in National parks, as mentioned by O. Pequin).

    Stéphane

  • Tyler

    Some state parks and state forests now require liability insurance for research collection permits. NY, Mass and VT do. This makes the process really difficult or impossible if you are not affiliated with an organization that provides this.

    On the other hand, the US National Parks system has an online permit application form that is very easy to use. I wish there were more national parks in the US, as this is now the most straightforward system to get a research permit for foreign researchers.

  • Michael

    I am an amateur entomologist interested in “recreational” collecting in Africa and SE Asia. Particularly Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Ghana and Madagascar (Africa in general). Does anyone know whether permits are required, and if so, how to go about getting them ?

    • George

      Hi Michael, it is very difficult to get permits in most of those countries you want to go to. Usually the “short cut” of bribing is the only way and this is how most local dealers get their parcels O.K.-ed for export. Papua New Guinea is a very dangerous place for an inexperienced visitor, with or without collecting permits. The danger is that there is no public security and you can be robbed or even killed by the locals. Every piece of land is owned by someone who can demand a price for entering. Collecting without the landowner’s permit is regarded as theft. Your best bet is to find a contact with the missionaries and get an invitation by them and then collect in their “territory”. But you still have to get permits from the government for collecting and exporting.A lot of hustle.

  • Zdenek Faltynek Fric

    Dear Michael, in all the places you mentioned the permits are required. Frequently it consist of two permits, one for collecting and one for export. When I visited the Ghana, it was organised by a friend so I do not know how easy it was, but getting the export permit was then easy. I have no idea about the other countries but you can google it.

    • Michael

      Thank you, Zdenek, for your reply. Unforunately, I have spent hours combing the internet looking for information on how and where to obtain permits in theses countries. Even the official Customs sites do not mention insects in particular, or have information on export permits for such. Collecting permits…impossible to find info on this on the internet. Even when I sent email to “officials” withiun the country with such inquiries, I do not get any reply. Furthermore, even if these collecting and export permits COULD be obtained, my concern is the cost would be prohibitive for just a sampling of species (1 or 2 specimens of any one species…maybe 100 insects or so). Very frustrating !

  • George

    Hi Chris,great site, congrats! I just wonder if anyone can give me some advice about the following matter. I have a relatively large. life-time coleo. collection which I will donate to a major Aussie museum. But I also have a lot of packeged specimens, mainly from other continents and I would like to sell these online. These were collected in countries before the strict permit laws were invented. I wonder if it is legal for me to sell these and send them to other countries like the US, England, Germany etc.? Australian law would allow this, but what about the countries of origin and the the countries where I would like to send them to? I can see a lot of similar material on the Net. Any ideas?I would greatly appreciate the info.

    • Hi George-

      I guess it depends. At least for the USA we’re not allowed to import commercial specimens without proper permits – this includes things legally collected with collecting permits from the country of origin. This process involves an expensive inspection fee required by Fish and Wildlife (in the order of hundreds of dollars), and if your specimens were old and collected before permits existed this would raise a major red flag. I would think even with the commercial import permit and inspection your specimens would stand a high chance of confiscation. Basically I would be skeptical of selling and sending specimens to anyone in the US, and if they choose to buy from you they are doing so at their own risk.

      If you donated these specimens for research shipping to the USA is possible, and not a big deal – but don’t be talked into labeling your package as something for “scientific research” if it’s not. In the end the more people busted for faking these shipments (there are plenty out there who do) will just make sending real scientific parcels impossible.

      I’m not really sure about other countries – most don’t seem to be as strict as us (our regulations are pretty ridiculous).

    • Zdenek Faltynek Fric

      Hi George, as I know, in majority of European countries there are no such regulations for import of dead insects with the exception of CITES. I get frequently material from various parts of the world and I the only troubles were with custom officers as they generally expect that when a custom value is not written on the package, then the value should be incredible high and they want to tax it. Unfortunately they do not distinguish if it is for commerce or for scientific research. I do not understand the over-regulations in some countries. The black market does not care about law, whereas research is affected by plenty of paperwork. It is quite silly when some species are missing in large phylogeny studies only because of listing them in CITES (and the species are farmed in large parts of Asia and offered for few dollars on eBay).

      • George

        Hi Zdenek,I agree with you about the black market. I am sure that most of the material offered on eBay or other similar online sites have no legal provenance.But who is going to investigate them all, and why? Entomologists collect a lot of insects, it is true, but this is absolutely nothing compared with the masses of insects (and other wildlife) killed by urbanisation, deforestation, agriculture and light-pollution all over the world.Even commercial collecting (harvesting)and farming should be condoned in most cases because in many tropical areas this could be the only “cash crop” to a struggling population. Anyway, this still leaves my original question without an answer… :-))

        • Zdenek Faltynek Fric

          Hi George, I thought that I answered at least some parts of your question – there are no such regulations in majority of European countries and therefore sending your non-cites specimens to Europe is legal. You do not need to show any documents about origin for the non-protected species.

          • George

            Hi Zdenek, thank you for your advice! I am new to selling, actually I have never sold a beetle during my 64 yrs of entomology and now I don’t want to create problems for myself. Reading the Insect Trading posts of this website makes me somewhat nervous. I posted a very small parcel with some tiny beetles to a German friend as a gift and two weeks later, it didn’t arrive yet.I just wonder if the Germans started to practice those Drakonian measures which are mentioned in the Insect Trading section?Anyway, thanks for your help!

  • George

    Hi Chris, thank you for your reply. I suspected that this is the situation, at least on the official level. But practice must prove different as there are huge numbers of specimens offered for sale by international dealers and amateurs and there are lots of US buyers.But my concern is not only the US import. I would be very much interested of hearing from others, did anyone experienced such difficulties with any of the European countries? I understand the CITES regulations, but I wonder about dealing with non-CITES species? Any info on this topic?

  • Michael Leonidov

    Thanks for the reply. Since I sent that email, I decided maybe Africa would be a better place to go. In the Cameroons, they have entire villages that collect Goliath Beetles and export them. Do you know anything about going there to collect Goliaths and other insects ? I understand there are no laws prohibiting collecting or requiring permits for export. I guess the problem is finding a village that would allow collecting on their “turf” ??? Any ideas, experience or thoughts ?

    • George

      Hi Michael, if I were you, I would make it sure to be very well informed about collecting and export regulations in Cameroon. It is true that Cameroonian dealers send out prcels without any permits but you as a foreigner may well be more strictly judged. I would also be somewhat doubtfull about whole villages occupied by Goliath collecting. But if it is true, I can’t imagine that the people of such village would receive you with open arms!Why don’t you go to French Guyana where things are a bit more relaxed? Or contact Dr. Maes in Nicaragua and get his advice. You find him via Google.

  • Geir Gogstad

    Very useful pages. I have looked for such compilated information on legislation for quite a long time. Turkey may be added to your list: License required everywhere, and may be quite difficult to obtain. Turkish law claim that even photographing insects is forbidden. However, outside the national parks no one seem to know. But be careful: a Dutch couple where arrested collecting in a national park and where presented to a fine of about 75 000 Euros each…..

  • Daniel

    Very informative page here, thanks for all the great info on collecting, and exporting.
    I was interested in Nicaragua, I didn’t see it posted or in the comments, but apologize if I missed it.
    I am planning on taking a trip there with my family from the US. I am a private collector of mosses, ferns, and various plants. I was wondering what the process is there on collecting plants and exporting them to the US, and whether or not you can do this as a private citizen or if you need sponsored by a scientific project.
    Thanks!

  • Alex6

    Hi , Congratulations for this website .Be able to share informations is so cool ! Brazil , Colombia, Bolivia ok ;-) … What about Argentina , Uruguay and Paraguay ? thank you

  • Laura

    Hi,

    Does anyone know about permits for collecting in the Philippines and China. I will be traveling to both countries later this year and would like to do a little collecting if possible.

    Thanks!

  • Jyrki Muona

    The information about Finland was not quite accurate.
    First, all collecting with traps is prohbited on the Åland Islands. You need a permit from the local administration – the region is an autonomous part of Finland with own internal system.
    In the mainland collecting in all protected areas is prohibited and you need permits from the so called ELY-centers AND the landowner. What makes this tricky is the fact that there are numerous small protected areas on privately owned land and these are frequently not marked. There is a free web-site from which you can see them all. Remember that not having known this is not an acceptable excuse.
    Collecting on private land cannot be compared with picking berries and mushrooms. It is certainly recommended one obtains the permit to collect on private land, simply good manners require this. Trapping is certainly not part of an “everyman’s right”.
    As to roads, private roads can be used, but not on a permanent base as the owner has to pay for their keep. Again only a very rude person would do this without permission.
    s.
    Jyrki Muona

  • Théo Léger

    Thank you for this complete list. May someone knows about the legislation in Poland ?

    Thanks !

  • Geir Gogstad

    Thank you for updating the information on permits in the US. For your information I have contacted a number of European entomology organisations to obtain info on the respective legislation in their countries. A list as to details accordingly will be provided within short.

    Geir G

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