Apply for a Research Licence

Research licence applications are submitted through Portal to Online Licensing Applications for Research (POLAR). This system allows you to register, input your contact information and detailed project description, and make changes where necessary before submitting an application. All research in the NWT requires a licence/permit from one of four agencies, depending on the type of research being conducted:

If you are planning to do research in the NWT, it is your responsibility to ensure that communications with relevant communities has occurred and research licensing is obtained before you begin.

We recommend that applications be submitted at least three months in advance of your proposed start date, especially if you have not already started communication about your project. It is best to be proactive, apply early and begin your communication with community organizations as early as possible.

Before you apply for a scientific licence:

  • Review the Doing Research in the Northwest Territories Guide.
  • Confirm licensing requirements.
  • Ensure your research location is only within the NWT. If it is to take place in Nunavut or Yukon in addition to the NWT, you will also have to apply to the regulatory institutions of the appropriate territory.
  • Determine which region(s) or land claim area(s) you will be working in.
  • Familiarize yourself with the region/area as the Indigenous, municipal and territorial governments may have identified regional research priorities and your work may compliment existing research efforts.
  • Review the Knowledge Agenda and Community Research Priorities. 
  • Search our Database of licensed research projects to familiarize yourself with past and current research initiatives, and discuss your project idea with representatives in the region.

Once issued, a copy of the licence document package will be sent to the registered email address as a reference from the system. For more information on the online system see our POLAR guide for researchers and POLAR guide for community organizations.

Scientific research licence application steps:

  • Start an online application after logging into a POLAR account;
  • The online form has a section for including attachments such as maps; ethical review applications, community consultation records, or other supporting documents (Note that map files should be contained to 2 MB in size or smaller);
  • Please keep the text sections as relatively brief summaries (approximately 200 words or less) and keep the “objectives” and “methods and activities” sections as plain-language as possible; researchers can add detailed project information as attachments. This keeps the application itself streamlined for an easier review by the communities; 
  • Submit the $200.00 application processing fee to Scientific Services Office (payments are in Canadian funds). Payment can be made within the online system by credit or debit card. Please notify the Manager of Scientific Services or Licensing Coordinator to pay by check;
  • Once submitted, the application is reviewed. If there are questions that need answering or other clarification required before it can be accepted, those questions are sent to the researcher and the application is returned to an edit mode within the online system; and
  • Once it is accepted, the application is distributed to associated NWT Community Organizations for review and feedback. If there are any concerns or comments submitted to the Scientific Services Office, these are promptly forwarded to the researcher so that they may follow up with the organization to address the concern or comment. Records of communication should be submitted to the Manager of Scientific Service or the Licensing Coordinator for addition to the application file as these are an important part of the licensing decision.

For further information, please refer to the Doing Research with the Northwest Territories Guide.