What is a biosafety permit?

A biosafety permit documents a researcher's facilities, personnel, materials and scope of research.

An approved biosafety permit ensures compliance with all regulatory agencies and allows for the release of research funds from the Office of Research Services.

When is a biosafety permit needed?

Work with live biological agents must be described in a UM biosafety permit while they are being used, stored or manipulated in a UM facility.

Work with all biological agents is reviewed to verify that potential biohazards have not been underestimated.

A permit is no longer needed when the agent is sterilized (autoclaved), chemically fixed or undergoes another process that renders the sample non-viable (cell lysis).

Where on campus is a biosafety permit required?

The biosafety permit applies to labs owned by the University of Manitoba and labs where the UM is contracted to provide safety services.

These include:

  • Both Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses
  • CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute
  • Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Medicine
  • Health Sciences Centre Research Foundation
  • Kleysen Institute of Advanced Medicine (HSC)

Researchers in external facilities (e.g. St. Boniface Research Centre, National Microbiology lab etc.) are required to follow the university’s health and safety policies and procedures.

Who can hold a biosafety permit?

Faculty who work with and store live biological agents on UM property can hold a biosafety permit. Support staff and students who will be working with live biological agents must be listed on the permit.

Types of biosafety permits

A permit classification will be assigned to permits depending on the biological materials and procedures being used. Facilities will need to meet specific design, safety and security requirements for their designated permit type as outlined in the Canadian Biosafety Standard and Handbook.

Containment Level 1 CL 1 permits are for work with Risk Group 1 biological materials and for work consistent with clinical services provided by a health care practitioner
Containment Level 2 (Unregulated) CL 2 permits are for work with samples which are not known to be pathogenic but may be contaminated with pathogens (such as cell lines, blood and body fluids etc).
Containment Level 2R (Regulated) This permit is for controlled activities that involve direct work with pathogens (Risk Group 2 and higher). In addition to CL 2 facility requirements, security requirements must also be met.
Containment Level 2R and Risk Group 3 (Regulated) This permit is for controlled activities for a narrow range of Risk Group 3 biological materials that can be handled at containment level 2.
Containment Level 3 and 4 Not available at the UM

Storage Permits

Storage permits allow for the storage of biological materials without holding a full biosafety permit. This permit does not allow active work with these materials and cannot be used for the release of grant funds.

If you would like to step down your permit to storage only, please review the Biosafety Policy and Procedure Statement: Biological Agent Storage Permits 2019 (PDF).

Biosafety permit process and approvals


Initial biosafety permit applications are reviewed and approved by the Biosafety Committee at monthly meetings. Once approved, this permit can be amended to update information as needed.

Amendments are also required for the release of research funds from the Office of Research Services.


Once a program permit has been approved, it can be amended to update information (such as personnel, facilities, research and new project additions). Depending on the type of amendment, it can be approved by the biosafety officers or Biosafety Committee chair on a weekly basis.

If the submitted amendment increases the risk of the approved permit, this amendment will need to be reviewed and approved by the committee at monthly meetings.

Terminating a permit

To terminate a biosafety permit, complete a Declaration of Decommissioning Form (PDF) and submit it to biosafety.program@umanitoba.ca.

Committee meeting schedules

The Biosafety Committee meets on the third Thursday of each month to review submissions. There is no meeting scheduled for the months of July and December. 

Submissions for committee review are due the first Thursday of each month at 4:30pm Central Time.

Instructions for biosafety permit submissions

Permit-holders can log in to EHSA using your UMNetID credentials. If you are unable to log in with your UMNetID, please request access to EHSA.

Log in to EHSA

Request access to EHSA