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Panama Scientific Research Permit Application from the Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente)

Required for all marine, freshwater, and terrestrial biological resources fieldwork (including observations) and field courses in Panama and for genetic resources (any research involving the study of genetic structure of biological resources in the laboratory with organisms from Panama. Note: Permit requirements were changed significantly on Mar. 26, 2019 (Panama Executive Order No. 19)

STRI receives more than 1,300 visiting scientists that require one or more scientific permits during the year. Please submit permit requests at least 3 months prior to the planned start of a project. STRI Scientific Permit Office (SPO) may take two to three weeks to process an application, depending on their complexity and our workload. In addition, Panamanian authorities may take up to 45 working days to issue a permit (not counting holidays). Sites in need of an informed consent letter will require additional processing time as the one indicated above (see below).

We cannot process incomplete applications, so please make sure that we have all of the following in a single envelope and a copy of everything in a secure email:

  1. One Ministerio de Ambiente Research and Collecting Permit Form in Spanish, signed by the Principal Investigator. The Permit Form application must include a Panamanian citizen to move forward with the request. If you need to hire an independent translator, please check this list.
  2. One original Letter of Commitment signed by the Principal Investigator, submitted by mail or courier. In addition, please include a copy in your permit application materials submitted by e-mail.
  3. For each person included on the permit please include:
  • Their curriculum vitae in Spanish
  • NEW: A legalized copy of their passport photo page or cédula depending upon their nationality.
  1. If the person is in Panama, their passport or cédula can be notarized by a Panamanian notary. Alternatively, you may present the original document to MiAmbiente authorities at the time of the permit request. For the later, the STRI Legal and External Affairs Office can collect the document, make the copies, and the STRI messenger will take the documents to be validated at MiAmbiente.
  2. If not in Panama, please get it Apostilled (a diplomatic stamp from your government stating that it is a certified copy under the Hague Conference on Private International Law of October 5, 1961). Please check the following link for a list of authorities who can apostille documents in your country. If your country is not signatory of the Hague Conference, please check with your national authorities, usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how you can certify your document.
  • A release of responsibility form. Download this here in English or Spanish.
  1. If you were granted a permit from MiAmbiente or ANAM in the past, you must include a signed Collecting Report in Spanish. Also, please include all resulting publications and their abstracts in Spanish.
  2. The STRI Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) Research Approval Form if your work involves live vertebrates.
  3. Informed consent letters for certain areas: written authorization only required if the research will take place on private property, indigenous reserves and certain protected areas under concession or special management e.g. land administered by the Agencia Panama Pacífico, APP; the Panama Canal Authority, ACP; the Metropolitan Natural Park – PNM; and Reserva Forestal Fortuna; Coiba National Park; Pipeline Road; Old Gamboa Road.

Some of these letters are requested directly by STRI. We mention this step here, because third parties may take up to several months to provide their letters, thus slowing down the application process further.

To work in Coiba National Park, you will probably not need to do anything. MiAmbiente will request a CLIP from the Coiba Scientific Council (CSC) after they receive the permit application package. The CSC will review your project. If they approve (usually with a two week period), they will issue the CLIP, which will then be added to your application. The CSC may also request revisions to your application.

To work in the Parque Natural Metropolitano, you will also probably not need to do anything. STRI requests the CLIP directly from the park when we receive your application. However, we cannot submit your application to MiAmbiente until we have this letter in hand (usually with a three week period). If your research cannot wait for this CLIP, you may request the Scientific Permit Office (SPO) to submit your permit application without the inclusion of the site. This will allow you to begin work on other sites on permit issuance. Once the CLIP is issued, you can request an amendment to the permit to include this site.

If any member of the research team has previously done research there, you must include an Informe para Renovación de Investigaciones Científicas.

To work in the Reserva Forestal Fortuna, which is managed by Enel Green Power Panamá,, you must include the Enel FORTUNA Research Permit Application  with your application. However, we cannot submit your application to MiAmbiente until we have this letter in hand (usually within a five-six week period). If your research cannot wait for this CLIP, you may request the Scientific Permit Office (SPO) to submit your permit application without the inclusion of the site. This will allow you to begin work on other sites on permit issuance. Once the CLIP is issued, you can request an amendment to the permit to include this site.

The CLIP for Pipeline Road and Old Gamboa Road will be added to your application package by STRI, if your work will occur between 6:00 am-6:00 pm (you don’t need to do anything). For research at other times, please follow this link for required documentation to attach to your permit request.

The CLIP for private properties is no longer required at the time of submitting the MiAmbiente permit request. However, the researcher must obtain authorization before entering private properties. Access is contingent on having a MiAmbiente permit granting access to the resources under consideration.

Due to the complexity of the authorizations to work in indigenous areas, please begin preliminary personal contact with the indigenous authorities 3-6 months before you plan to submit your permit application package. For additional information to guide you on how to obtain an Informed Consent Letter for an indigenous area/Comarca please follow this link.

Please contact the Scientific Permit Office (stri-permits@si.edu) if you need additional information, or have any doubts about your application.

SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION (Please read carefully)

To avoid delays with your permit processing by the authorities, the most efficient way is to submit single courier envelope and a secure e-mail copy of all documents required in your application.

Your original application (including the legalized passport/cedula copy and letter of commitment with original signature) may also be submitted via our diplomatic mail service, which is cheaper, but not ideal because it may take several weeks to arrive.

Items in the application package other than original, signed documents, may be submitted by e-mail to the scientific permits office: stri-permits@si.edu Because your application includes private information (Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (sPII), please submit via secure transfer or encrypted email, with the password called in by phone or in a separate email.

MAIL (US diplomatic pouch, may take three weeks)
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Attn: Scientific Permits Office – SPO
9100 Panama City Pl
MRC 580-12
Washington, DC 20521-9100
USA

COURIER (DHL, FEDEX, UPS, ETC)
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Attn: Scientific Permits Office – SPO
MRC 580-12
Phone (507) 212-8082 / 212-8158
Edificio Tupper – 401
Balboa, Ancón
Panamá, República de Panamá

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