MVZ researchers are responsible for obtaining all necessary export permits from foreign countries prior to importing specimen material into the United States. For information on foreign export permits, follow the same process as for foreign scientific collecting permits (see MVZ Guidelines for Collecting Permits). Copies of all permits must be provided to MVZ Staff Curators at the time that specimens are deposited for cataloging.

An excellent source of information is the Ornithological Council’s Birdnet Permits Website which includes guides, resources, and the latest news relating to several permitting processes, much of which can be applied to all vertebrates. Especially notable is the Guide to the Permits and Procedures for Importing Bird Products into the United States for Scientific Research and Display. This was done in consultation with USFWS and USDA officials as well as museum curators. Although it is geared toward birds, it applies to import/export of ANY scientific specimen or specimen part (including tissues, blood, PCR products, parasites, skins, skeletons, and whole animals). Note: regulations pertaining to H5N1 apply only to birds.

Copies of MVZ import/export permits can be obtained from Staff Curators Carla Cicero (ccicero[at], Chris Conroy (ondatra[at], or Carol Spencer (atrox[at]

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

A USFWS import permit is required to import regulated wildlife, i.e., North American migratory birds, threatened or endangered species, CITES-listed species, marine mammals, and injurious species. The Museum has a USFWS import/export permit for migratory birds.

If specimens are CITES-protected, MVZ researchers are responsible for obtaining the necessary CITES permits for their specimens. The Museum is CITES-registered (code US-052) and has a Certificate of Scientific Exchange, but this applies only to exchange of specimens between registered institutions (i.e., as a gift or loan). It does not apply to import/export of specimens collected or salvaged by an MVZ researcher and not yet cataloged into the collections.

All imported wildlife products must follow USFWS import/export permit procedures, including filing of a 3-177 import/export declaration form (aka “eDecs”). The form should be filed at the time of entry into the U.S. (i.e., at customs). MVZ Staff Curators are responsible for filing the 3-177 form for cataloged material that is imported/exported on behalf of the Museum (e.g., loans, permanent gifts, etc.).

Wildlife must be imported/exported through a USFWS designated port. If wildlife will be imported through a different port, a USFWS Exception to Designated Port permit must be obtained. MVZ researchers are responsible for obtaining such an exception, if necessary.

List of USFWS Designated Ports with Contacts

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Import of animals or animal products also is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). A USDA import permit is required for import of any USDA-restricted products, which include bird and mammal specimens, tissues, or any other parts (note: amphibians and reptiles are not regulated). The Museum has two USDA import permits that apply to different countries, respectively: (1) countries that are listed as having Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), and for which samples/specimens require treatment prior to import (specific treatment methods must be authorized on the permit); (2) countries that are free from HPAI, but excluding certain regions that require special import permits (e.g., Japan, Canada, Switzerland, European Poultry Trade Region). A copy of the relevent permit should be obtained prior to any international field work, and presented at U.S. customs when declaring animal products.

A separate USDA-APHIS permit is required for transport of previously-imported bird and mammal tissues from another U.S. institution to the MVZ. The Museum has a USDA transport permit for tissues. A copy of this permit must be sent to the other institution prior to having them ship the material.

All USDA permit applications are processed through the APHIS epermits portal (special login authorization required).

USDA APHIS: Animal Health Status of Regions