ACCESS LICENCE FAQs
Who is required to apply for access licence?
Any user (in regardles of nationality)- individual, a group of individuals, educational and research institution or corporate entity seeking access to biological resources or the associated relevant knowledge.
Exemption is only given to i) public officers obtaining access to biological resources as part of their prescribed duties and responsibilitites in their respective organisation and as provided for in their respective Ordinance or Enactment which do not involve any collaboration with the second and third party ii) students who are registered with Sabah-based institution of higher learning (eg. UMS) and doing academic research without second and third party collaboration. (part ii has been deleted, referring to Sabah Biodiversity Enactment amended in 2017)
Does the access licence apply to researchers who will be entering forest reserves for ecological research but not doing any collection?
When should I apply for access licence?
A committee is setup to vet your access licence application and this committee meets four (4) times a year. Kindly be informed of the processing period and it is important that you comply with the terms and conditions to expedite service.
Does research assistant need to apply for access licence?
Yes, they may go under your application as group members. Kindly take note that you are required to include them when you apply for access licence. Failure to do so may result in further delays or rejection when you decided to include them later in your research project.
I have already obtained my access licence but decided to engage foreign research assistant(s) for my research project, what should I do?
You are highly recommended to engage local research assistant(s) to help out in the field. However, should the locals cannot meet your research demands and you have decided to engage foreign research assistant(s), you are required to submit the following documents to SaBC for further considerations:
- A letter from you (the principle investigator) to justify the needs for engaging foreign research assistant(s), specify the tasks and skills required, and to show that you have made the effort in finding local research assistant(s)
- Passport copy of the foreign research assistant(s)
- A letter of support from your organisation/university to hire/engage research assistant(s) for your research project
- A letter of support from your local collaborator
- A letter of support from resource manager(s)
- Research assistant(s) curriculum vitae
Important note: You are to ensure there is no independent research (besides your research) carried out by your research assistant(s). This separate application is subject to approval and no guarantee for successful application.
If granted, how long is the validity of my access licence?
The validity of your access licence depends on the research activities (that involve access) in Sabah. However, the licence is renewable depending on the nature of access activities. Validity period varies from 1 month to a maximum of 12 months. Kindly indicate when do you intend to access and the duration in the access licence application form.
I have missed the submission date but need to commence my fieldwork very soon, what should I do?
It is the applicant's responsibility to be aware of the procedures/ rules and regulations before conducting research in Sabah. All information are as stated on our website and you are required to make the necessary early arrangements to obtain the documents. You should only confirm your travel dates once you receive email notifications from us notifying you the result of your access licence application as the committee has the right to reject research proposals as it deems fit.
I am running behind schedule to complete my research, can I apply for temporary permission to begin preliminary work in Sabah?
There is no provision for temporary permission as all applications are vetted by the committee as well as it involves the Sabah State protocols before permission is given. It is an offense for any person who in contravention of the provisions of the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 engages in, carries out, or undertakes any access activity without having an access licence: Section 26(a). Please refer to the schedule published on our website to plan in advance.
I have submitted my access licence application/ transfer licence application, what should I do next?
Initial screening of your application will be done by SaBC to ensure everything is in order. Any incomplete documents, discrepancies found between documents and vague information will be queried by SaBC through email and you are obliged to answer these queries before we can process your application. If no queries, we will acknowledged receipt of your application through email. Kindly add firstname.lastname@example.org to your email safe sender's list to ensure uninterrupted communication from us.
I have submitted my access licence application one week/few days before the deadline but received query on incomplete documents/ unclear information about my application, when do i have to submit my documents in order to meet the deadline?
The day when you reply and finalise the queries by submitting the necessary information, particulars or documents to SaBC will be the date of your submission (not based on your first incomplete submission/ unclear information). It is highly recommended that you apply earlier to the various agencies to obtain the necessary supporting information, particulars or documents and submit your application to SaBC. In case there is query, you still have the time to gather the necessary information/ documents to meet the deadline as published on our website. Otherwise, your application can only be processed in the next window of submission.
Can I collect my access licence before the validity period?
Yes, you may collect your access licence before the validity period and proceed to apply for Professional Pass from the State Immigration of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu and to collect any entry pass from the resource manager(s) (if any). You are also required to keep the original copy of your access licence. However, you should only commence your fieldwork according to the validity date and any preconditions imposed must be complied with.
How do I collect my access licence?
Kindly print out and complete the Statutory Declaration (signed and stamped) and hand it over to SaBC office in order to collect your Access Licence in person. Please take note that the Statutory Declaration Form must be signed in the presence of a Sessions Court Judge, Magistrate, or Commissioner for Oaths in Sabah or in Malaysia.
After collecting my access licence, what should I do?
You are required to adhere to the Compliance Requirements information provided to you when you receive an email notification informing you of the result of your application. You may also view the arrival guidelines as reference.
I have been granted a Visit Pass upon entering Malaysia, do I still need to apply for Professional Pass?
The Visit Pass is only for social visit purpose (i.e tourism) in Malaysia, it does not give you the provision to conduct research. The purpose of your visit (to conduct research) requires you to apply for Professional Pass in regardless of the duration of your stay.
My research involves aerial survey/ drone/ unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), do I need additional permission?
Yes, you are required to do the followings:
- Mention aerial survey/drone/ unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) usage to the respective resource manager(s) when you apply for permission to enter their area(s)
- List down your drone specifications, the usage (including flying altitudes etc.) in your access licence application form and proposal
- Write to two (2) departments; (i)State Internal Affairs & Research Office, Chief Minister's Department of Sabah and (ii) Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia to obtain the necessary permission before submitting your access licence application to SaBC Note: Include support letter from Department of Survey & Mapping Malaysia, resource manager(s), date and time of operations/activites, flying radius and coordination, flying altitudes, drone specifications, operation purpose, company details (if any), drone pilot information (for operating drone above 20kg you need to provide Private Pilot Licence/ Commercial Pilot Licence).
My research area(s) involve marine water/ marine park in the East Coast of Sabah, what other documents do I need to submit other than the letter of support from the resource manager(s)?
If your research area(s) involve marine water/ marine park in the East Coast of Sabah, a written security clearance from the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) and/or National Security Council (Kota Kinabalu branch) is mandatory. You may write to the following address to obtain security feedback:
Secretary of State Security
Malaysian National Security Council
Prime Minister's Office
Level 6, Block A
Federal Government Administrative Complex
88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Tel: +6088 488 500
Fax: +6088 488 510
You may email your letter of request to email@example.com
Note: You are required to follow the subsequent instructions stated by the Malaysian National Security Council once the letter is issued and forward to us a copy of the letter in order for us to process your access licence.
My access licence application/transfer licence application is rejected, can I appeal?
Yes, you may appeal through SaBC within the period of three (3) months beginning from the date you received the decision.
- Letter of support from resource managers/ institutions/ local collaborator not attach together with your submission
- Discrepencies in information- access location listed in the form is different from letter of support from resource managers/ local collaborator and proposals; biological resources to which you are seeking access is different from what you seek to transfer/export different from your proposals
- Elaborate on the use of the biological resources which you seek to access. For example, "chemical analysis"/ "DNA analysis" not sufficient to describe the activity
- Group application- group members' passport copy not attach, no support from local collaborator/resource managers (these letters of support must have their names identified as reflected in the access form)
- Submitting your application 1 week (or less) before the deadline is not recommended. It usually takes more than 5 working days (or up to 1 month depending on the issues and institutions involve) to sort out the queries. You are recommended to read the instruction on our website carefully and make the necessary arrangement once you have decided to conduct your research in Sabah
TRANSFER LICENCE FAQs
Can I renew my transfer licence?
No, you can only apply for new transfer licence. The procedure and processing time are the same.
When should I apply for transfer licence?
You are recommended to apply for transfer licence as soon as you have decided to export the specimen. The processing period will take a longer time than access licence. Kindly check out the application flow chart.
Do I need to apply for transfer licence if my specimen is listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)?
Yes, as long as you require the specimen/samples for research purposes, you are required to apply for transfer licence from Sabah Biodiversity Council.
- animal means any vertebrate or invertebrate and the eggs thereof but does not include any domestic animal or the eggs thereof;
- animal product means - (a) an ovum, embryo or sperm of an animal or any other part or product of an animal from which another animal could be produced; (b) any dung, cocoon, eggshell, nest, honey, beeswax or other product or thing produced by or from or built by an animal; (c) any dead animal or part thereof whether or not included in a manufactured or processed article which is labelled as containing or claims to contain animal products except where it has ceased to be in a readily identifiable form as a result of such manufacturing or processing; or (d) anything having animal connections declared by the Minister by notice in the Gazette to be an animal product
- plant means any species of plant or any part thereof whether living or dead and includes the stem, branch, tuber, bulb, corm, stock, budwood, cutting, layer, slip, sucker, root, leaf, flower, fruit, seed, or any other part or product whatsoever of a plant whether severed or attached but does not include any plant product that has undergone a process of heat and drying treatment.
Do i need to provide any other document if an import permit is not required by my importing country?
You must provide evidence of non requirement of a permit when you lodged your application with the relevant authorities that govern the export of the said material from Sabah
If I fail to obtain Phytosanitary Certificate from Department of Agriculture, Sabah and/ or any other relevant permits from relevant authorities, can i still export the materials?
You are not allowed to export because you fail to meet the terms and conditions stipulated in your transfer licence issued by Sabah Biodiversity Council
I am exporting less than 500g of soil for research purposes, do i need to obtain an import permit from the importing country?
The prohibition of soil movement is regulated worldwide (including interstate within Malaysia) and you can't export without the importing country approval. Though exemption might be given for research purposes, you are still required to obtain an import permit from the importing country (or the State/ Federal Department of Agriculture if within Malaysia) regardless of the amount of soil you intend to export after obtaining the consent from Sabah Biodiversity Council.
If my transfer licence is approved while i'm away from Sabah, what should i do?
You are to ensure that the samples/ specimens collected are kept safe with your local collaborator in Sabah. If your transfer licence is approved, you may remotely arrange with your local collaborator on how to send the samples/ specimens to you by adhering to the terms and conditions stated in the transfer licence. It is an offence to remove biological resources from Sabah for the purpose of research without the consent of Sabah Biodiversity Council
If granted, how long is the validity of my transfer licence?
The validity of your transfer licence is one (1) year from the date of approval. However, the transfer licence is a single-use licence and subsequent export activities would require new transfer application.