Apply for a Canadian Bird Banding Permit

Under the authority of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Bird Banding Office issues scientific permits to capture and band migratory birds in Canada.

Bird banding is a scientific technique that requires expertise and skill usually gained over many years of study and field experience. Generally, people with banding permits are biologists, wildlife technicians, or non-professional ornithologists who undertake specific studies. Sometimes banders are employees or members of a bird observatory, which can have many research studies taking place at the same time.

Normally people interested in banding birds begin as volunteer banders or students under the direct supervision and training of an experienced permitted bander. Once they have gained the necessary skills and have demonstrated competency in record keeping, ethical capture and handling, and bird identification, aging, sexing, and banding, they may to apply for a subpermit.

There are three types of scientific permits to band birds issued by the Bird Banding Office.

  1. Master permit: The master permit holder is designated as the "responsible individual" on a banding project and coordinates the activities of all subpermittees working on the project. The master permit holder is responsible to the Bird Banding Office for reporting data collected and maintaining the band inventory.
  2. Station permit: When a banding project is sponsored by an organization such as a university or a bird observatory and there are a number of individuals banding, a station permit is issued. An experienced "responsible individual" who has the responsibilities of a master permit holder is designated by the organization.
  3. Subpermit: Many projects are carried out by more than one person. Subpermits are issued to banders working with a master bander or at a banding station. Subpermittees band according to the project description of the master bander's permit or the station permit.

Banders from the United States or other countries who wish to band migratory birds in Canada require a permit issued by the Canadian Bird Banding Office in Ottawa. Canadian banders who wish to band in the United States must contact the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory to acquire the appropriate US federal permits.

Both offices coordinate banding and marking programs and will verify that banders are in good standing in their country of residence.

If you are applying for a banding permit for the first time in either country, please follow the procedure for obtaining a subpermit in the country in which you intend to band.

Bird Banding Permit Application Form

Applicants may download the Bird Banding Permit Applications (PDF; 143 KB).*

Ninety days should be allowed for the processing of a master permit application, and 60 days for a subpermit. More time may be required if special provisions are requested.

Additional Permits

A federal scientific permit to band birds may be only one of several permits required to band and handle certain bird species in certain locations. Federal banding permits are only valid in conjunction with other necessary permits. Bird banders in Canada are responsible for ensuring that they have all necessary permits for their project.

Click here for a list of additional permits you may require.


* This form is available in Portable Document Format (PDF) only, as it should be filled out in a printed version, not online. For the PDF version, you must have a PDF reader on your computer. If you do not, see our Help on accessing documents in PDF format page. Alternate formats are available upon request. Please contact enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca or contact the Canadian Bird Banding Office to request an application package.