How to join GBIF

According to the GBIF Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), a GBIF Participant can be a country, economy, inter-governmental or international organization, other organization with an international scope, or an entity designated by them, that has signed the MoU and expressed its intention to observe its provisions. The process of joining is quite simple. Just follow the steps below, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Choose your category

If you wish to join GBIF on behalf of a national government, there are two categories to choose from:

Voting Participants: countries that are willing to observe the provisions of the MoU and to make a financial contribution to the GBIF budget. These Participants have voting rights on the GBIF Governing Board, as well as other benefits.

Associate Country Participants: countries that are not yet making financial contributions to GBIF.  Associate Participants may take part in the deliberations of the Governing Board, but may not vote. The category of an Associate Participant Country is a temporary category of up to five years duration from the date when the country signs the MoU. During this period the Associate Participant Country may decide to become either a Voting Participant, or an Observer, or may withdraw from GBIF. 

Other Associate Participants are international organizations, intergovernmental organizations, other organizations with an international scope, and economies, that are willing to observe the MoU provisions. These Participants may send representatives to the GBIF Governing Board, may endorse data publishers and take part in collaborations such as regional meetings, mentoring programmes and training events. However, they are not eligible to become Voting Participants, and are not required to make a financial contribution to the GBIF budget.

Send a Letter of Intent

In order to become a Participant in GBIF an appropriate government agency, or senior representative of an organization, should send an official Letter of Intent to the Chair of the Governing Board (see below), expressing intent to sign the MoU.

The letter should state that the country/organization is, in principle, in agreement with the intentions listed in the MoU and should, in particular, outline the willingness to establish a Participant Node, share biodiversity data and actively participate in the implementation of the GBIF Work Programme.

Letters of Intent signed by a Minister or ministerial department should include information on the agency or institution that has been designated to sign the MoU and represent the country on the GBIF Governing Board.

If a country wishes to become a Voting Participant it must, in addition, express its willingness to make a financial contribution to GBIF as outlined in Paragraph 9 of the MoU, and establish the details in a financial arrangement with the Secretariat

The GBIF Executive Committee will consider all petitions for Participant status and will determine if the application meets the requirements of the MoU and GBIF Rules of Procedure. If a petition is granted, a MoU signature copy will be sent. In the case of Voting Participation, the Secretariat will in addition specify the financial contributions in a financial arrangement.

For further details of the procedure see Article IV – Requirements for Participation in the Rules of Procedure agreed by the Governing Board.

The letter of intent should be addressed to:

Chair of the GBIF Governing Board
GBIF Secretariat
Universitetsparken 15
DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø

For model letters of intent appropriate for countries and organizations, please follow the links in the right-hand column of this page.


Sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

Once the petition to join GBIF, expressed in the Letter of Intent, has been received and approved by the Executive Committee, the applicant will be informed and the designated minister, official or other representative may sign the MoU. As soon as the signature is received by the Secretariat, the country or organization becomes a GBIF Participant and will be informed about further procedures such as appointing a Head of Delegation and node manager.