About Licensing Research

Please note, the following changes in research licensing have been in effect since April 1st, 2023:

For more information please visit the following: GNWT press release (March 16th 2023) Aurora College to transfer administration of Scientists Act

*UPDATE* February 2024: To access the GNWT's "Doing Research in the Northwest Territories: A Guide for Researchers" please click, here.

All research in the Northwest Territories must be licensed. This includes work in indigenous knowledge as well as in the physical, health, social and biological sciences. Research license applications are submitted through the POLAR system and will be administered through the Government of Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE). The Aurora College ceased processing and issuing research licenses on April 1st, 2023. If you are planning to do research in the NWT, it is your responsibility to ensure that the relevant permits, licenses and permissions are obtained before you begin. Through the licensing process, information about your work is shared with other researchers, NWT residents and it is added to our scientific database.

Communicating with communities is a vital part of the research licensing process in the North, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you’ve communicated with community organizations about your project. Certain research licences or permits will not be issued if appropriate communication with the community has not taken place. The level of involvement, and which community organization(s) you need to contact, will depend on the type, scope, location and potential impacts of your research. For guidance on establishing effective and respectful communication with communities, see our web resources for Communicating Research.

For some very basic guidelines to assist in determining what licences and/or permits that you will require please consider the following:

  1. If your research will involve studies on any species of terrestrial vertebrates or invertebrates view information for the Wildlife Research Permit.
  2. If your research will involve studies in archaeology view information for Archaeologists Permit.
  3. Research that does not fall under the Wildlife or Archaeologist legislation requires a Scientific Research Licence which is administered by the Government of Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) .
  4. If your research will involve health, contaminants, fisheries or access to private lands you will need a Scientific Research Licence and there will likely be other regulatory requirements. The GNWT research guide can be found, here

For more information contact:

Manager, Scientific Services
Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE)
Government of the Northwest Territories


P.O. Box 2884, Inuvik, NT, X0E 0T0
E-mail: researchlicensing@gov.nt.ca