Guidance

Apply for CITES permits and certificates to move or trade endangered species

How to apply to import, export or re-export endangered animal and plant species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list.

Before you apply

Before you start, check if you need to apply for a:

There are criminal offences associated with moving or trading CITES-controlled species if you do not have a valid permit or certificate. You could be liable to a prison sentence of up to 7 years, an unlimited fine, or both.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) issues CITES documentation. It is the UK CITES Management Authority.

Permits are valid for one consignment only.

In certain situations, APHA can issue multiple permits to allow individuals to import or export a number of consignments of the same species from or to the same country within a 6 month period.

You must check:

If you intend to move items that you cannot identify, you should check with the CITES management authority of the country of import or export before you go ahead.

How to apply

Use these forms to apply for a permit or certificate to:

To import annex C specimens, you need to contact APHA to get an import notification form.

In most cases, UK import permits are only valid when supported by a valid export permit issued by the country the items were exported from.

You must have the relevant permit before you import, export, or re-export a CITES specimen. You can only apply for a retrospective permit under very specific and exceptional circumstances.

Before you apply for a retrospective permit, you must contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol.

Applications for annex A captive born and bred birds

If you submit an application for annex A captive born and bred birds, you must provide full details of the unique number on the bird’s leg ring. You should include all numbers, letters and characters.

The ring number must be unique as the permit or certificate issued can only be used for that specific bird.

Your application may be delayed if you do not supply a unique ring number for each bird, or you use duplicate ring numbers.

For further advice about marking specimens, contact APHA by:

Apply for someone else

If you’re making an application on behalf of a UK resident or business, you must complete the CITES application with the full name and address of the actual exporter or importer, not your own.

The application must include written confirmation of this arrangement, signed by the person who you’re making the application for.

Send your application

You must include the correct fee and scans or copies of supporting documents with your application.

You can submit your application by:

If you want to email your application and cannot electronically sign the application form, you must add a declaration in the ‘remarks’ field on the form. Do this by putting your email address in the signature or remarks box and add:

I, [insert your name], am the owner of the email address below and also the applicant.

Fees

You must pay a fee to cover the cost of processing your application. If you’re importing or exporting endangered species for conservation, you can apply for a waiver so you may not need to pay CITES fees.

You will not get a refund if your application is refused or you cancel it after processing has started.

Most common charges

Permit, certificate, registration Fees for animals (£) Fees for plants (£)
Article 10 certificate £31 £31
Re-Export permit £37 £59
Import permit £67 £74
Export permit £63 £74
Travelling exhibition certificate £74 £74
Personal ownership certificate £74 £74
Musical instrument certificate No fee No fee

Other charges

Permit, certificate, registration Fees for animals (£) Fees for plants (£)
Movement certificate (Article 9) £88 £88
Certificate of origin £31 £31
Semi-complete re-export permit for biological samples (Article 18) £44 £59
Semi-complete re-export permit for dead specimens (Article 19) £44 £59
Semi-complete export permit for biological samples (Article 18) £72 £74
Semi-complete export permit for dead specimens (Article 19) £72 £74
Nursery permits (Article 29) N/A £74
Sample collection certificate (Article 44a) £74 £74
Scientific institution certificate (Article 60) £146 £195
CITES registration £221 £221

Fees for extra permits

If you need more than one permit, there’s an extra charge of £1.50 each as long as the specimens:

  • are of the same species of animal or genus of coral and plant
  • have the same source code and purpose code - you can find this on the back of the application form
  • will be transported between the same importer and exporter

If you need more Article 10 certificates there’s an extra charge of £1.50 each as long as the specimens:

  • are of the same species of animal or genus of coral and plant
  • have the same source code as the original application

They must also meet one of these conditions:

  • they’ve been included together on a previously issued Article 10 certificate
  • they were imported into the UK on a single import permit
  • they’ve been bred from the same parents in the same breeding season

If you’re unsure what fee to pay, contact the APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol.

How to pay

You should make payments in pound sterling (£) only. Do not send cash.

You can choose to pay by:

  • cheque, made payable to APHA
  • postal order, made payable to APHA
  • any major credit or debit card (except American Express), call 01633 631 800

You’ll get a payment reference number once you’ve paid. If you want a receipt, ask for one when you apply.

How long it takes

APHA aims to process your application within 30 days. Only contact APHA to ask about the status of your application after this time has passed.

If you apply by email, APHA will respond to confirm they have received your application. If you apply by post, you will not get a receipt.

How a decision is made

Your application will be assessed based on review by scientific advisers at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew for plants, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) for animals. For applications in Northern Ireland (NI) decisions will also be based on guidance from the EU Scientific Review Group (SRG), which advises on the impact of trade on CITES listed species.

Your application may be refused if the UK’s scientific authorities advise that trade levels are harming the conservation of the species. In NI, your application could also be refused if SRG advises against trade.

You can look at previous SRG decisions and opinions on Species+. If there’s no SRG opinion about a certain species, it does not mean your application will automatically be approved.

If your application is agreed, you’ll get your printed, signed and stamped permit or certificate in the post. If your application is refused, APHA will send you a letter explaining why.

Passing on your information

You must agree to APHA passing on information, including your personal data, to:

  • UK Border Force
  • police
  • National Wildlife Crime Unit

APHA may also release information on request to other enforcement authorities under the Environmental Information Regulations, the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Replacement permits

You can apply for a replacement if your official validated permit is:

  • cancelled
  • lost
  • stolen
  • accidentally destroyed

Contact the APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol for help.

Published 17 July 2019
Last updated 28 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Edited 'How long it takes'. Applications will now take 30 days to process.

  2. Updated email address for CITES applications: CITESapplication@apha.gov.uk

  3. Added guidance about CITES import and export permits and applications for Annex A captive born and bred birds. Updated information about penalties if you do not have the correct documents and payment methods.

  4. First published.