Conducting Scientific Research in Mexico
All scientific research or collection of specimens by foreign scientists in Mexico requires prior approval by the Mexican government. Do not begin your research or collection within areas under Mexican jurisdiction without the permission of the Mexican government through the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE).
Obtaining a Research Permit
The Mexican government requires that all permits for research from foreign scientists be processed through their respective Embassies in Mexico. Therefore, all requests from U.S. scientists or institutions must be forwarded to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. If the research requires the use of a research vessel in Mexican territorial waters, scientists should first consult the Department of State in Washington: http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/opa/rvc/index.htm
When a research application is submitted to the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, it is passed to the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE). The SRE coordinates the review and approval process for the Mexican government. The appropriate Mexican technical agencies review applications for research permits, but only the SRE has the authority to grant final official approval. Keep in mind that requests are often reviewed by several technical agencies, each of which must independently approve the project before the SRE grants final authorization. The fact that you are aware that your counterpart at one of the technical agencies has approved the project does not mean that all of the relevant technical agencies have given their approval and that the SRE has issued its final authorization.
SRE's final authorization will be granted through a diplomatic note that is formally sent to the Embassy. The Embassy will then send the permit to you by mail or fax. You should not begin your research until you have received formal authorization from SRE. Any research that is not authorized by a diplomatic note from SRE is not authorized by the Mexican government.
Deadlines and Applications
The U.S. Embassy cannot accept incomplete applications from scientists or submit partial application packages to SRE.
The Government of Mexico requires that applications for marine research (including land-based activities like sea turtle conservation) be submitted 180 days in advance of the start of the proposed research trip to Mexico. Marine research is any research involving physical, chemical or biological marine resources, whether or not such research is conducted from a vessel or other at-sea platform.
All other kinds of research applications must be submitted 90 days in advance of the start of the proposed research trip to Mexico.
To allow time for the Embassy to process permit requests, applicants should submit their information to the Embassy at least two weeks before the date on which the application must be submitted to the SRE.
Depending on the kind of research to be performed, you may have to pay various fees, such as a collection fee, aircraft landing fees, aircraft parking fees, and a fee for export/import of biological samples and/or specimens. SRE determines these fees, which may vary from project to project, shortly before the starting date of the proposed research.
- Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) - (PDF - 797Kb) is the basic application form for all research permit requests.
- Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) (PDF - 689 Kb) is required only if the research involves collection of biological samples or specimens.
- National Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission (CONAPESCA) (PDF - 92Kb) is required only if the research involves collection of non-endangered marine or freshwater species/samples, and marine sediments.
- Vessels and aircrafts must also submit a form for Temporary Use of Radio Frequencies from the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) (PDF - 689Kb).
In addition to these application forms, the Government of Mexico requires applicants to submit extensive information outlining their research proposal. Click here for a detailed list of required supplemental information. (http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/env_scientific_research_requirements.html)
Safety and Security: Applicants are encouraged to read the U.S. Department of State’s travel warning to Mexico at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5665.html
Applicants are also encouraged to register their travel at the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/
Timing: Allow extra time to accommodate unforeseen delays. Permits may be granted at the last minute, or even after the start date of the proposed research. Submitting your applications well in advance of the deadlines will help avoid research disruptions but is no guarantee against delays.
Changes and Amendments: Any changes or submission of new information must be made formally through the Embassy. Please be aware that amendments often cause a delay in getting the requested approval. It is therefore advisable to prepare the initial application carefully in order to minimize the need for changes. To avoid confusion, please ensure that the dates of your research are the same in all documents submitted.
Absence of the Chief Scientist: Permits are personal and non-transferable, and requests for transferring field responsibilities can result in delays and denials. If the chief scientist will not be in the field during the entire research period, we strongly advise that you designate a co-chief scientist at the beginning of the process.
Mexican Collaboration: Joint U.S.-Mexico scientific collaboration is well regarded. The likelihood of approval of applications for research permits increases for projects that include Mexican scientists as partners. Researchers may wish to find a Mexican counterpart. Researchers who are working with a Mexican counterpart must include a letter from the head of the collaborating institution with the permit application.
Collecting Specimens: When specifying the number of specimens to be collected and/or exported, you must consider that the Government of Mexico requires that a percentage of the total collected species (approximately 40%) be deposited in a Mexican institution. Consider this percentage in your proposed number of specimens to be collected. Collection of endangered species or collection within any designated protected area is an issue of particular sensitivity. You should provide clear and compelling justification for such collection in your research plan.
Submission of Research Results: Research permits are granted on the condition that scientists submit five copies of their preliminary and final research report of their scientific activities (in English and Spanish). Scientists are also required to submit copies of all papers and published materials (including photographs, posters, videos, etc.) resulting from the granted research. This information can be submitted on CD and/or DVD. As with the research permit application, this material must also be submitted through the U.S. Embassy. Failure to provide these reports may result in the denial of future requests.
Note: Please note that SRE now requires all paperwork (letters, forms, etc) to be submitted in Spanish.
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