Endangered species: imports and exports and commercial use
- Animal and Plant Health Agency
- Part of:
- Guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products
- First published:
- 1 January 2013
- Last updated:
- 20 October 2016, see all updates
How to apply for a CITES permit to import and export endangered species and for commercial use.
CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement between governments that came into force in 1975. The import, export and use for commercial gain of certain species requires a CITES permit.
Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Centre for International Trade - Bristol is the part of the UK CITES management authority responsible for dealing with CITES applications.
Species listing decisions at CITES Conference of Parties (CoP17)
Please be aware of decisions agreed on the species proposals at CoP17. See the news item for further details.
UK ban on modern day ivory sales
Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has announced plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory – putting UK rules on ivory sales among the world’s toughest. See the press release for further details.
New species requiring licences (CITES certificates and permits)
CITES Conference of Parties 17 (CoP 17) is taking place in South Africa on 24 September 2016. At this conference certain species are proposed to go from not being listed at all, straight to Appendix I. See the news item for further details.
A reminder to bird breeders
To avoid any unnecessary delay in processing your application when applying for certificates or permits for birds that you have bred, please make sure that you have fully completed the application form and included the following information:
- Ring numbers and hatch dates for the offspring
- Article 10 numbers and ring numbers for the parent birds (if the A10 was not issued in the UK you will need to provide a copy of the certificate)
Over 2,500 animal and 25,000 plant species are included in the Appendices of CITES on Appendix I, II or III. In the European Union the CITES Appendices are replaced by Annexes A, B, C and D. Commission Regulation 1320/2014, which came into effect on 20 December 2014, provides a complete list of species controlled by CITES under the EU regulations. Alternatively you can find out if a species is controlled under CITES by visiting the UNEP-WCMC website species+.
Easy guide: 50 most commonly traded species, with Latin names (PDF, 50.8KB, 1 page)
Import bans and negative opinions
Trade is not allowed with countries that are not party to the Convention and do not issue comparable documentation. See a list of CITES parties.
The EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 888/2014 suspends the introduction into the Community of specimens of certain species of wild fauna and flora.
The UNEP-WCMC trade information query tool allows you to search by country and species to find any restrictions.
As well as this the EC Scientific Review Group (SRG) publish a current list of negative opinions which are recorded on the Species+ website.
The trade suspension list provides a list of bans by country.
Applications are required for CITES listed species for the following:
- import into and (re-) export from the European Union
- the commercial use of any specimen listed on Annex A to the regulations within the EU
- movement of specimens within the EU where there has been a previous movement restriction imposed
Before completing the application, you must check:
- whether the species is controlled by CITES
- the scientific name of the species
- whether there are any specific requirements with the intended import or export country - you can check this on the Global CITES website
Step 1 - application
Your application will need to be accompanied by the correct fee. Cheques should be made payable to APHA.
If you are applying for an import permit you need to obtain and attach a copy of the export permit before you submit the application.
Applications, with supporting documents, can be submitted by post or email. If you cannot electronically sign the application form, we require a declaration in the remarks box, on the application form stating that you, the email account owner is the actual applicant, (i.e. I, your name, am the owner of the email address and also the applicant).
Step 2 – consideration
As we receive thousands of applications in the post each year we do not acknowledge receipt of an application made by post, If there is no problem with your application you may not hear from us until you receive your paperwork. If you apply by email, you will receive a response confirming the arrival of your application.
Once we receive your application a Case Officer, will log your application onto our system and complete the necessary steps to determine whether the documents can be issued. Often this includes sending it to our scientific advisors. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is the scientific authority for plant applications and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the scientific authority for animals.
At this stage you do not need to do anything, unless specifically asked by your Case Officer.
Step 3 – decision
Once a decision has been reached your Case Officer will either:
a) authorise your paperwork, print it, sign and stamp it and send it to you
b) write a letter to you explaining why your application has been refused
Whatever you have applied for we aim to have an answer back to you within 15 working days of receiving your application.
Fees applicable for CITES applications (PDF, 214KB, 3 pages)
Fees for CITES applications for animals (PDF, 146KB, 5 pages)
Fees for CITES applications for plants (PDF, 160KB, 5 pages)
- Fees and charges – Wildlife (Statutory Instrument 2009 No.496)
- The Animal Health (Miscellaneous Fees) Regulations 2013 No.1240
Methods of payment
All payments should be made in £ sterling. Please do not send cash. Fees are payable on application. Applications without a fee will not be processed unless they have been waived for conservation purposes.
Fees can be paid by:
- cheque - cheques must be made payable to APHA
- postal order – postal orders must be made payable to APHA and counterfoils should be retained for your own records
- card - to pay by card (all major credit and debit cards accepted except American Express), contact our Central Finance Department on 01633 631 800 or ssd.financeAR@defra.gsi.gov.uk and explain what you want to pay for e.g. CITES Article 10 certificate
- BACS (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services) - for further details on paying by BACS, please call 0117 372 3700 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference Guide to the European Community Wildlife Trade Regulations Produced by the European Commission and TRAFFIC Europe.
GN1 – General guidance notes for importers and exporters (PDF, 92KB, 7 pages)
Sets out the framework for international trade in specimens listed on each of the Annexes and explains what you need to do to
GN1a – Guidance for first time applicants: importers and exporters (PDF, 176KB, 4 pages)
Brief overview of what you need to know
GN2 – General notes on commercial use (PDF, 98.9KB, 9 pages)
Sets out when you need to apply for an Article 10 certificate and gives detailed information about the different types of certificate
GN2a – Guidance for first time applicants: commercial use (PDF, 151KB, 4 pages)
Brief overview of what you need to know
GN6 - Specific CITES guidance for bird of prey keepers (PDF, 79.9KB, 4 pages)
Guidance of relevance to owners and traders of birds of prey
Guidance to EU CITES Management Authorities on worked specimens was issued by the European Commission in December 2012. Copies of the guidance are available on request from the European Commission or from the UK CITES Management Authority,
Further guidance documents in relation to CITES are available on the archived web pages on the National Archive website. Please note that this guidance is available for information only and may be out-of-date.
CITES is an international agreement which aims to protect endangered species by regulating and restricting the trade in certain species. It is applied within the EU by regulation 338/97.
- EU Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 - this is the EU regulation which applies the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in European law. It sets out the requirements for trade within the EU and with countries outside of the EU.
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 865/2006 - this document is a consolidated version of (EC) No 865/2006 incorporating 100/2008, 791/2012, 792/2012 and 1283/2013. It is intended purely as a documentation tool on how 338/97 is to be implemented and is not a legal document in its own right. If you wish to refer to the individual regulations and amendments please use the links below.
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 100/2008
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No 791/2012
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No 792/2012
The changes to 865/2006 which have been implemented by EU regulations No 2015/56 and 2015/57 have not been consolidated in the above document and are below.
- EU Commission Regulation (EU) No 2015/57
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No 1320/2014 provides a complete list of species controlled by CITES under the EU regulations.
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2015/736 - this regulation lists the specimens which are banned for import into the EU under CITES.
- EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2015/870 – replaces EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2015/56.
The Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations creates offences in relation to Regulation 338/97 and allows CITES to be enforced within the UK.
- Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES) -1997
- Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES) - 2005 Amendment
- Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES)- 2007 Amendment
- The Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) (Amendment) Regulations – 2009 amendment
Release of information
Information supplied in applications may be used for the purposes of monitoring compliance of EC Regulations 338/97 and 865/2006 and the investigation of possible offences.
The information may be passed to UK Border Force under the provisions of Article 14 of Regulation 338/97 and to the Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) for the purposes of gathering and analysing intelligence on possible wildlife crimes.
Information (including personal data) may also be released 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. It is a condition of making an application that you agree to the department passing on information to these organisations.
Tel: +44 (0) 3000 200 301
Fax: +44 (0) 28 415 2510
Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
Centre for International Trade - Bristol
1/17 Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Published: 1 January 2013
Updated: 20 October 2016
- Added news - species listing decisions at CITES Conference of Parties (CoP17)
- News added - Defra announcement about UK ban on modern day ivory sales
- Published new species requiring licences (CITES certificates and permits) news
- Amended current restrictions on importing live birds listed on CITES news item.
- News added - CITES documents for hybrid specimens
- AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
- First published.
Related guides: Importing non-native animals