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Native American Religious Use Frequently Asked Questions

A federal permit is required to possess eagle and migratory bird feathers and parts for Indian Religious Purposes.

How does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determine who is Native American?

Native Americans are defined as members of federally recognized tribes.  A list of federally recognized tribes is published in the federal register yearly.  The most current list is posted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Members of federally recognized tribes will need to provide a Certificate of Enrollment.  A form for the Certificate of Enrollment is included with the permit application.

Can I request feathers and/or parts of birds other than eagles?

Yes.  There is a new, two-year pilot program for 2011-2012 to distribute non-eagle, migratory bird feathers and parts. Please follow the application process outlined at the Non-Eagle Repository Fact Sheet. Currently all requests are going through Region 2, even if you do not live in the southwest.

How do I get eagle feathers?

You need to have a federal permit to obtain eagle feathers.  Information and the application is available on our Eagle Indian Religious Permit Page

What is the Certificate of Enrollment?

The Certificate of Enrollment is a form required as proof of enrollment in a federally recognized tribe.  It must be completed and signed by your tribal certifying official.  You may submit a document other than the Certificate of Enrollment, provided it contains the same information as the Certificate of Enrollment, and it has an original signature and contact information for the certifying official. Your certifying official must be the authorized certifying official for your tribe with an original, correct signature. 

Why do we do we have a Certificate of Enrollment and verify the certifying official?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to the resources traditionally used by Native Americans for religious purposes.  We do receive requests from those who are not Native American as well as those who forge the certifying official form.  The list of federally recognized tribes and Certificate of Enrollment help to ensure this limited resource Native Americans as equitably as possible.

Is there a fee?

No.  There is no fee for this permit.

Is there a minimum age?

Yes.  You must be 18 at the time of application for your federal permit.

How long is it valid?

It is valid for your lifetime.

What is the process?

Once we receive your application, it is processed for completeness and entered into our database.  Completeness includes that the applicant is 18 years or older, a member of a federally recognized tribe, and all necessary information is provided.  Once your application is complete, we verify the certifying official and certificate of enrollment is complete and correct.  After we completes the verification, the Migratory Bird Permit Office will issue your permit and send your request to be filled by the National Eagle Repository.  You will receive your permit in the mail at the same time your request is mailed to the National Eagle Repository.  Please give the Repository sufficient time to complete your request after you receive your permit.  The National Eagle Repository will call you prior to sending your shipment.  YOU MUST HAVE A VALID PHONE NUMBER or contact person with phone number to received parts.  The National Eagle Repository must contact you or your contact via phone BEFORE THEY CAN SEND YOUR FEATHERS.

Can I check on the status of my application?

Please wait 90-days after submitting your application before contacting us about your status.  If it has been 90-days and you have not received contact from the Migratory Bird Permit Office, you can contact us via email:, phone: (503) 872-2715, or mail: 911 NE 11th Ave; Portland, OR 97232.  Please be patient, applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

How long does it take to receive feathers and/or parts?

Below is a list of estimated wait times.  This list is an ESTIMATE, as the supply and quality of eagle feathers and parts donated to the National Eagle Repository varies.
Whole immature golden eagles Approximately 4 years
Whole adult golden eagles Approximately 3½ years
Whole adult and immature bald eagles Approximately 2½ years
Whole tail only Approximately 3½ years
Pair of eagle wings Approximately 1 year
10 loose quality feathers Approximately 6 months
20 miscellaneous feathers Approximately 3 months
Trunks only On receipt of request
Head only On receipt of request
Talons only On receipt of request

Can I request more than one item at a time?

No.  Only one request at a time.  Once you received your request, you may submit an additional request.

How do I reorder?

Complete a ReOrder Form and submit it directly to the National Eagle Repository.  Reorders do NOT need to go through the Migratory Bird Permit Office.

My information has changed.

If your name, address, or other contact information has changed, please submit a letter requesting an amendment to your permit.  Please clearly state your federal permit number and what information needs to be updated.

Can eagle feathers be inherited?

Yes.  You may gift your feathers to other members of federally recognized tribes.  A copy of your federal permit should stay with the feathers.  We strongly recommend the individual receiving the gift apply for a federal permit.

Can I transport my eagle feathers internationally?

Yes.  You need to obtain a transport permit from your Migratory Bird Permit Office.  Please allow at least 90-days processing time. 



Last Updated: March 17, 2015
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