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Access Licence FAQ

Who is required to apply for access licence?

Any user (in regardless 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 public officers (Sabah govt. officers) obtaining access to biological resources as part of their prescribed duties and responsibilities 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.

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:

  1. 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)
  2. Passport copy of the foreign research assistant(s)
  3. A letter of support from your organisation/university to hire/engage research assistant(s) for your research project
  4. A letter of support from your local collaborator
  5. A letter of support from resource manager(s)

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 access licence is one (1) year. However, the licence is renewable depending on the nature of access activities. 

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 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. Access licence fee will be imposed (except for Sabah undergraduate access licence).

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:

  1. 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)
  2. List down your drone specifications, the usage (including flying altitudes etc.) in your access licence application form and proposal
  3. 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, you are required to obtain:

1) A permission letter from the Sabah State Internal Affairs and Research Office;

2) A written security clearance from the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) ; and

3) National Security Council (Kota Kinabalu branch).

You may refer to our Procedures on Access and Export Licence Application on the download section of this website for contact details.

Note: You are required to follow the subsequent instructions stated by the letters above and forward to us the letter copies 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. 

Common errors that can cause delays
  • Letter of support from resource managers/ institutions/ local collaborator not attached 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 attached, 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 involved) to sort out the queries. You are recommended to read the instructions on our website carefully and make the necessary arrangements once you have decided to conduct your research in Sabah