Guidelines for Research and Collecting Permits in CR

Everyone who captures, handles, or transports plants, animals, or microorganisms in Costa Rica for  scientific study must register their project, obtain government wildlife service (MINAET) research permits, and submit biannual reports to the government. Anyone collecting plant samples or capturing wild animals for teaching purposes or scientific research (pollinia or scat samples, re-capture, among others) must pay an additional fee for a collecting license, even if specimens are later released. Collecting permits must be obtained even for purely observational research if it is to be carried out in a National Park. Research and the related collecting permits (if needed) are valid for six months, and can be renewed. The export of wildlife from Costa Rica for scientific purposes also requires one or more government export permits.

Research regarding access to Genetic and Biochemical Elements and Resources of the Biodiversity must follow the specific regulations stated in the Costa Rican Government Decree

Permit Types

A single permit authorization can cover all the participants of a course or a research project, as long as the principal investigator or course coordinator is willing to assume responsibility for the actions of the associated researchers. Many foreign researchers study in Costa Rica under the auspices of permits  obtained by local collaborators, either individual or institutional, for joint projects. Local collaborators' permits are valid for one year and are renewable.


Any researcher the Soltis Center assists in obtaining government research permits must agree that:

  1. The Soltis Center reserves the right to refuse service to projects which it feels may undermine its relationship with the Costa Rican authorities or scientific community, or to withdraw at any time.
  2. The burdens of proof and of timely application are on the applicant. The Soltis Center will not take responsibility for delays caused by late application or incomplete documentation.
  3. The Soltis Center will charge a service fee for assisting the researchers to obtain the permits.

Research reports required

Biannual reports to the Ministerio del Ambiente, Energia y Telecomunucaciones (MINAET) are required for all investigators registered in the government permit system. These should include a statement of progress (with reference to the project proposal originally submitted), and an account of the collections made. These reporting obligations must be written in Spanish. Research permits are not renewable unless reports are received by the government.


Researchers are required to send copies of the publications originating from research done in Costa Rica to the National Library and MINAET. The Soltis Center also requests that all reports and publications be forwarded through its office in Costa Rica if the Center assisted the permit application, along with two copies for the Center library.

Requirements for Research and Collecting Permits (for first-time project approval by the government)

  1. Curriculum vitae of Principal Investigator (3 pages maximum).
  2. MINAET permit application form completed.
  3. The Soltis Center permit application form completed.
  4. Project proposal. A brief (1 to 6 pages) Spanish summary of the research proposed. Specify the nature and purpose of the project; the collecting to be done (tax, numbers, locations, etc.); the persons and institutions involved; the use(s) to which the specimens will be put and the eventual disposition of them; and a description of the techniques that will be used for capture, preservation, and/or study of live organisms. Include Title, Introduction, Objectives and Methods. It is extremely important to include a chronogram (time schedule).
  5. Passport-size photos: One if only registering your study, two if collecting.
  6. Copy of your passport: First pages, with personal data and photo.
  7. Official letter of endorsement from the institution with which you are affiliated (It has to be on letterhead and should bear the institution's seal.)
  8. Written authorization signed by the land owner(s) when collecting from private property. If the project will be developed at the Center property, the Director of the Center must approve it.
  9. Your payment of $50 for research permit alone and $35 if collecting (for a total of $85 if you are collecting)
  10. Research assistants need also to send two passport size photos, a copy of the photo page of their passports, and pay $35.
  11. Once these requirements have been completed and all documents received, it takes a minimum of 30 natural days to obtain a permit. A research permit is valid for six months and is renewable.

Additional charges that may apply

Proposal translation, permit delivery if not at the Soltis Center, weighing, packing and shipping material for exportation, transport of equipment and materials, among others. Please directly contact the Center Director or Manager to obtain an estimate of these expenses.

Requirements for Exporting Specimens or Materials

  1. A letter from the Natural History department at the National Museum or from a scientific contact at the University of Costa Rica stating one of the following:
    1. You deposited a duplicate set of specimens with them.
    2. You have agreed to return your specimens at a later date.
    3. Due to nature of your collection, leaving duplicates is not necessary.
  2. Payment of $5
  3. Arrival port (city, state, country).
  4. Name, address, phone and institution where the collection will be housed.
All those requirements are the responsibility of the Researcher. If the Center assistance is needed to obtain the letter (Requirement 1), leave duplicate specimens with local scientists on your behalf, or if the specimens are alive and require additional sanitary inspections, some extra fees will be charged.

Additional Requirements if the Specimens or Materials are to be shipped and not carried-on by the Researcher

  1. Name or description, number and net weight of specimens that are going to be exported.
  2. Total gross weight of each box, bag or bottle to be exported.
  3. Numbers of boxes, bags, bottles to be exported.
  4. The exact date you wish to export.
  5. For exporting living organisms or green materials, please contact the Center Director for specific regulations.

Renewal of Research and Collecting Permits

  1. Project report/update in Spanish.
  2. A newly completed form: "Solicitud de Permiso para Realizer Investigaciones" (in Spanish)
  3. One passport size photo only if you are collecting (for new collecting carnet/license).
  4. Payment of $50 for project and collecting license renewal.
  5. New permission letters from landowners if new sites are involved.
  6. New version of any original requirement if your status has changed. For example, occasional updates in your resume, new letter from your institution if you have changed institutions, among others.
  7. Research Assistants need to send two passport size photos, a copy of the photo page of their passports, and pay $35.
  8. Once these requirements have been completed and all documents received, it takes a minimum of 30 natural days to obtain a permit. A renewed research permit is valid for 6 months and is again renewable.

The Center Address in USA:

Texas A&M University
International Affairs
Research and Education Center in Costa Rica
Bizzel Hall West
4251 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4251
Tel (979) 458.5568

The Center Address in Costa Rica:

Texas A&M University research and Education Center in Costa Rica
San Isidro de Penas Blancas
P.O. Box 80-4417 La Fortuna
San Carlos, Costa Rica.