Research permits

Here below are details of the procedures and various permits and applications that needed for science-related research in Kenya.

For Kenyan nationals, it includes
• Submitting a proposal to Mpala Research Centre
• Obtaining a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) permit for wildlife related research
• Applying for a National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) research permit

For foreign researchers it includes details for the processes for:

• Submitting a proposal to Mpala Research Centre
• Obtaining an affiliation or authorization letter from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)
• Obtaining an affiliation letter from the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) (where necessary)
• Applying for a research permit from the National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI)
• Obtaining a research pass from the Department for Immigration Services
• Obtaining permits for exporting samples (where necessary)
• Obtaining permits for bringing live animal traps into the country (where necessary)
• Obtaining a visitor’s visa

To assist on research permit matters or if you have questions pertaining to the research permit application processes, contact the Research Liason, John Gitonga at

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Individuals wishing to conduct research at Mpala must apply formally by completing the Mpala Proposal Application Form and submitting by email to:

Proposals are reviewed year round by the Science Advisory Committee, a panel comprised of a representative from each of the four Trustee institutions of the Mpala Research Trust (National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service, Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution) and the Director of the Mpala Research Centre. We occasionally request comments from external reviewers. Applicants should submit their proposal at least 8 months before intended arrival.

A research authorization is required for any research projects involved in wildlife study.

In order to apply for an authorization letter, you need the following:

• Completed Applicant Details Form
• Research proposal
• Introduction letter from Mpala Research Centre
• CV (relevant to research project)
• Copy of passport biodata pages
Send these files to Fardosa Hassan who will forward them to KWS.

The KWS letter will be issued upon acceptance of the above documents and receipt of payment.

For non-citizens an authorization letter costs US $700, paid after  the reviewal process by KWS is completed.

For citizens it costs KES 6,000 for Masters student/researcher and KES 12,000 for a PhD researcher.

You must apply for the KWS letter before arriving in Kenya. You may not begin research until you have your authorization letter in hand.

Note, an NMK affiliation letter is only necessary for research conducted in collaboration with NMK.

To apply for an NMK affiliation letter, you need the following:

• Your research proposal
• Introduction letter from Mpala Research Centre
• CV (relevant to research project)

The NMK affiliation letter is issued upon payment of US $200, paid when the application has been submitted.

You must apply for the NMK letter before arriving in Kenya. You may not begin research until you have your affiliation letter in hand.

Create an account and submit an application online on the NACOSTI website, and follow the guidelines for application, found at

Researchers may make payments to NACOSTI through Mpala. Please contact the finance office at to do so.

The application for a research pass can be completed online through the e-Foreign Nationals Service (eFNS) portal. Receiving the research pass changes your status in Kenya from visitor to researcher. You must have your research permit in order to apply for the research pass.

Useful Research Documents and Instructions
•  Research, Internship, Student pass application procedures

Note: If you travel to Kenya before you have a research pass and you do not receive it before your visitor's visa expires: you must visit the immigration department for a visitors' visa extension.

Obtaining a visitor's visa 

• Create an evisa account, apply, and pay online for a 3-month single-entry visitors' visa.

• Print your evisa and payment confirmation, and bring it with you to the airport. You will receive the visitor's visa stamp in your passport upon arrival.

Other information can be found at:

If you are exporting samples, you must additionally obtain the following permits:

  • a KWS export/import permit
  • a National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) permit
  • a certificate from the Kenya Director of Veterinary Services (DVS) for all animal materials or a Phyto-sanitary Certificate from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) for all plant materials

The following applies to the transfer of all wildlife materials/samples, be they genetic or non-genetic, biological or non-biological:

First, you must fill a Materials Transfer Form and a Prior Informed Consent Form, have these reviewed by KWS, and have them approved by your institution and Principal Investigator. For these forms, please contact Fardosa Hassan (

Second, once you have obtained these forms, you may apply for a NEMA access permit for genetic resources. The NEMA access permit is a prerequisite for KWS exports permit application. The NEMA permit application can be found online on the NEMA website ( and will be issued upon payment of KES 20,000.

The NEMA permit must be renewed each year, with renewal costing KES 10,000.

Thirdly, once you have obtained the NEMA access permit, you may apply for the KWS import/export permit. This application form may be found here.

The export/import/capture permit form must be submitted to the KWS Licensing Office for processing, accompanied by the following documents:

1. KWS Research Authorization letter (process described above)

2. Materials Import Permit from the country of the materials' destination

3. The duly filled in and signed Materials Transfer (MTA) form between KWS and the applicants' institutions (i.e. your university)

4. The duly filled in and negotiated Prior Informed Consent (PIC) on the mutually Agreed Terms (MATs) form between KWS and the Principal Investigator (PI)

5. The access permit to genetic resources from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)

6. The research clearance letter from the National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI)

7. A full list of the samples to be exported, listed in a spreadsheet, and the following information for each sample:

• Species name (English and scientific)
• Collection site and GPS coordinates
• Weight
• Progress report on the research
• Any other supporting documents

8. Permits from other regulatory agencies that might also be applicable include: DVS-animal samples, KEPHIS- Plant materials, NMK- archaeological / bird’s materials, Mines & Geology- rocks, soils and stones).

Useful documents and instructions:
Steps to obtain an Export Permit from KWS
• KWS Export and Import Application Form
Steps to obtain Phytosanitary Certificate
• Phytosanitary Certificate Application Form
• KEPHIS Guidelines for authorization of seed certification activities in Kenya
• KEPHIS Application for authorization

If bringing live animal traps into the country, you need to first obtain a letter from KWS in order to not have your traps confiscated – contact Mpala for help with this. All permits payments can be facilitated through Mpala

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