Scientific Research PermitS


The Republic of Panama requires all individuals conducting research under STRI's auspices to adhere to the laws and regulations of the country, international conventions (e.g., CITES, Convention on Biological Diversity), and the laws of the country to which scientific samples are being exported to or imported from.

A scientific permit is required in the Republic of Panama for the legal observation, collection, import and export of scientific samples. The STRI Scientific Permit Office (SPO) serves as sole liaison for scientific permit requests between STRI users and the Government of Panama. Scientific permit granting agencies in Panama include:

The Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente - Former ANAM)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (MIDA)

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI)

The National Institute for Culture (INAC)

The Civil Aeronautics Authority (AAC)

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP)

No Panamanian permits are required for the Barro Colorado Natural Monument (BCNM). Please note that if you are based at Barro Colorado Island (BCI) and plan to work outside the island you will require the Ministry of Environment Scientific Research Permit.

Scientific permit costs will be charged according to the visitor status assigned by the STRI Visitor Services Office (VSO). The fee schedule for scientific permits can be found at Permits Fees.

The STRI Scientific Permit Office will ensure, when applicable to proposed projects, local compliance for Smithsonian Directive SD 605 - Animal Care and Use (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; IACUC) and Smithsonian Directive 606 - Human Subject Research, before project approval at STRI.

Panamanian regulations require that all permit requests must be prepared in Spanish. Users have the sole responsibility for the accuracy of the information incorporated into their permit applications and for the submission of the required accompanying materials for the scientific permit application. Users must be aware that submission of incomplete applications will cause significant delays to their permit process time. The STRI Scientific Permit Office will verify that the scientific permit application is complete and that supported materials are included before sending the application to the respective Panamanian government entity.

STRI scientific users must be aware that a permit request application submission is evaluated externally. STRI does not issue nor grant permits for scientific research in the Republic of Panama, except for the Barro Colorado Natural Monument. Panamanian authorities have the final decision regarding the issuance of a permit.

In general Panamanian entities are required to render a decision on scientific permit applications within 45 working days (63 calendar days) of receipt of the application. SPO has no control over this step of the process, nor on the time that the government entity will take during such times. SPO will monitor with authorities the progress of the evaluation process of the permit after 30 working days of scientific permit application submission and will notify the scientific permit applicant of any changes.

STRI maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding the failure to comply with the regulations for the legal observation, collection, import and export of scientific samples. Ignoring this policy will lead to disciplinary actions including denial of access to STRI facilities, disciplinary actions, possibly dismissal, and prosecution by the Government of Panama.

The STRI Scientific Permit Office (SPO) is located at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Tupper Center, Level 100, Room 128, Panama. SPO is located next to the STRI Visitor Services Office (VSO), and the STRI Office of Protection Services (OPS).

For all scientific permit enquiries and requests please contact us by email at or by phone at (507) 212-8082 / (507) 212-8158. Our addresses are:

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Attn: Scientific Permits Office - SPO
9100 Panama City PL
MRC 580-12
Washington, DC 20521-9100
Or Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Attn: Scientific Permits Office - SPO
Phone (507) 212-8 016 / 212-8158
Edificio Tupper – 401
Balboa, Ancón
Panamá, República de Panamá

Maps of Panama Protected Areas

MapMaps of Parks and Reserves administered by Ministry of Environment

Updated: September 2015