Banding in Foreign Countries

Science Center Objects

For US banders proposing projects in countries that have existing bird banding programs, such as Brazil and Peru, they should contact those programs to obtain the necessary permits and expect to use bands issued by those countries. Some island states are overseas territories of European countries and banding activities on those islands are normally governed by the respective European banding offices. In most cases, the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) will not approve requests to use its bird bands in these countries unless those national bird banding programs explicitly approve their use. Other countries may be in the process of establishing national programs and banders should contact the BBL for information regarding the current status of national banding programs for countries in the Western Hemisphere.

For countries in the Western Hemisphere that do not have national bird banding programs, banders should not use BBL birds bands in these countries without obtaining the permit(s) required by each country and the proper authorization on their Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit. When working outside of the USA and Canada, banders must recognize that BBL bands can be used only on North American migratory species if permitted by the host country. The banding of resident species, including resident forms of species that also occur in North America, must be conducted with bands purchased by the bander or supplied by the banding program in the country. Except under extraordinary circumstances, use of BBL bird bands outside of the Western Hemisphere will not be authorized.

Requests for authorization to use BBL bands in countries outside of the US should provide following information:

  • Master bander’s name, permit number and all sub-permits requiring this authorization.
  • Country(ies) where banding is proposed.
  • Project proposal(s) describing the banding activities that will occur in each country.
  • A copy of the valid permit(s) authorizing the proposed bird banding activities in each country.

Obtaining banding permits in other countries can take a considerable amount of time. Banders should start the process of obtaining these permits well in advance of the proposed starting dates for their projects. Use of BBL bands outside of the US without proper authorization may result in the loss of the Federal banding and marking permit, hence, banders must follow these procedures prior to initiating banding projects in other countries.


Bird Banding in Canada

US banders wishing to band in Canada must obtain a Canadian bird banding permit from the Canadian Bird Banding Office (BBO). The BBO establishes the qualifications for obtaining bird banding permits, the procedures followed to submit permit applications, and the conditions and authorizations on the permits. US banders who would like to apply for a Canadian bird banding permit can find more information at the BBO website.

Most US banders operating under a Canadian Bird Banding Permit will also receive bird bands issued by the BBO. These banders must be careful to use their BBO-issued bands only in Canada and their BBL-issued bands only in the US.


Bird Banding in Mexico

US banders who would like to initiate banding projects in Mexico must obtain a Mexican bird banding permit before the BBL will authorize use of its bird bands in that country. Mexican banding permits are issued by SEMARNAT (Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales). Collaboration with Mexican colleagues will greatly expedite issuance of these permits. US banders working with Mexican colleagues can apply directly to SEMARNAT for a banding permit while US banders working without Mexican collaboration must consult the US Consulate in Mexico City and follow its procedures for obtaining these permits.

After a Mexican bird banding permit has been issued to a US bander, they may use BBL bands on North American migratory birds if authorized to do so by the BBL. They may not use these bands on resident Mexican species. The Mexican government is in the preliminary stages of developing a bird banding program, and after that program becomes operational, this program will issue Mexican bird bands for use in Mexico.

Please allow 2 months lead time to process your request.

This information may be sent to



Report a problem on this page


Return to BBL Homepage