Guidance

Commercial use of endangered species: check if you need a CITES certificate

Check if you need an Article 10 certificate for commercial use of endangered species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list.

You must have a commercial use certificate, known as an Article 10 certificate, for any specimen listed by CITES in annex A that you plan to:

  • use for commercial gain in any way
  • keep for sale
  • offer for sale
  • transport for sale
  • display to the public for commercial purposes
  • breed from to sell individual offspring, even if you do not plan to sell the parents (which must be uniquely and permanently marked according to regulations)

Use the search on Species+ to find out if your animal or plant species, their parts or derivatives are listed in annex A.

You must apply for an Article 10 certificate using form FED1012. Find out how to apply for the certificate, including fees.

You must check if you also need a permit to import, export or re-export a CITES specimen.

You do not need an Article 10 certificate to own or trade in specimens of species listed in annex B of the CITES regulations. However, if you’re challenged, you must be able to give evidence that you got the specimens lawfully.

It is a criminal offence to use commercially:

  • any specimen listed under annex A of the CITES list without a valid certificate
  • any specimen listed in annex B that has been imported illegally

You could get a prison sentence of up to 5 years or an unlimited fine.

Single commercial use exemption

If you’re applying for an import permit for an annex A specimen, you can ask the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for special permission to allow you the first sale of the specimen, without an Article 10 certificate. You must make sure the specimen is marked according to regulations before it’s imported.

You must return this type of permit to APHA when it expires.

The new owner of the specimens must get an Article 10 certificate if they want to use the specimen commercially.

Special exemptions

There are specific circumstances where you do not need an Article 10 certificate.

These include:

  • owning or giving away an annex A CITES specimen
  • worked specimens that you got in their finished state before 3 March 1947 only
  • specimens of certain animal species (or hybrids of them) born and bred in captivity and listed in annex X of EC Regulation 865/2006
  • artificially propagated specimens of plant species
  • dead specimens of crocodile (Crocodylia) species included in annex A with source code D, as long as they’re legally marked or identified as per the regulation
  • caviar of shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and its hybrids, with source code D, as long as it’s in a legally marked container

Marking species

You must mark specimens according to European regulation Article 66 of EC Reg 865/2006. The marking needed depends on what the specimen is.

Most live specimens must have one of the following:

Contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol for help with marking specimens.

 Type of Article 10 certificate you will get

APHA will give you a Specimen Specific Certificate (SSC) or a Transaction Specific Certificate (TSC). This will depend on APHA’s assessment of your individual case.

Specimen Specific Certificates

APHA issues SSCs for a specimen, not a permit holder, and they must stay with the specimen for its life. You must give the SSC to the person buying the specimen at the time of the first sale and all future sales.

You can apply for a SSC for an individual specimen. SSCs are valid for all commercial use, no matter who owns the specimen, unless the description of the specimen on the certificate changes.

SSCs issued in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) are only valid for use in GB. Existing SSCs issued by either the UK or an EU member state on or before 31 Dec 2020, and located in GB, continue to be valid in GB.

SSCs issued in Northern Ireland (NI) are valid for use in NI and the EU. Existing SSCs issued by either the UK or an EU member state on or before 31 Dec 2020, and located in NI, are valid in NI and the EU.

APHA only issues SSCs if:

  • the specimen was introduced into the UK or the EU before it was listed in annex A or it was legally imported after that date
  • the specimens are captive bred, which means they were born in captivity to 2 generations or beyond – captive breeding involves more than just breeding in a cage, aviary or enclosure so ask APHA if you’re not sure
  • the specimens must be uniquely and permanently marked according to regulations

Transaction Specific Certificates

APHA may issue a TSC for an individual specimen to a specific holder if specimens:

  • do not meet the criteria to be issued with a SSC
  • are not correctly marked

TSCs are only valid for the person or business named on the certificate.

You will see a statement on the TSC telling you what you can use it for. This might be for:

  • one sale only by the person named on the certificate, from the address shown
  • educational display, no sale
  • breeding, no sale

The person buying the specimen must then apply for a new certificate if they plan to use the specimen for any commercial purpose.

Returning a certificate when you sell

When you sell a specimen, you must make sure that you:

  • show the new owner your Article 10 certificate and reference number, or give them a photocopy of your certificate clearly marked with ‘copy for information only’
  • return the TSC to APHA immediately after passing the specimen over to another person

If you cannot give the new owner a copy of the Article 10 certificate, you can give them an invoice quoting the number on the certificate.

Tigers, bears and rhinos: stricter controls

There are some exceptions to the usual CITES controls. In the UK, stricter measures apply to the following species:

  • tigers (Panthera tigris) and any parts or derivatives
  • bear (Ursidae) – bile, paws and gall bladders
  • rhino (Rhinocerotidae) and rhino horn

If you intend to trade or move specimens from any of these species, you must contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol before you apply.

Elephant ivory

If you intend to trade or move elephant ivory you must contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol before you apply.

Gifts and donations

You do not need an Article 10 certificate if you want to:

  • give your specimens away
  • use or display them for non-commercial purposes

Specimens you intend to display may need a travelling exhibition certificate.

If you receive a specimen as a gift, you must complete the WLRS02 form to confirm a gift or unconditional loan of a specimen, that did not involve a commercial transaction.

You may not be allowed to sell a specimen that was a gift if there’s not enough information about how it was gifted.

You should also ask the person who gave it to you for:

  • the specimen’s origin
  • details on how they came to possess the specimen
  • previous certificates and permits or other documentation, including non-CITES paperwork, to show legal origin and previous possession
  • their contact details

APHA may need to check this information if the new owner applies for an Article 10 certificate.

You’ll need to apply for an Article 10 certificate if:

  • the gift involves some other type of exchange or benefit, including a charitable donation
  • you’re receiving the gift and plan to use the specimen for commercial purposes

Buying endangered species

Before you buy a species that is listed under annex A in the CITES list, you must make sure the seller has a valid Article 10 certificate or a CITES import permit that allows a single commercial sale.

You do not need a CITES certificate to own or trade species listed under annex B in the CITES list. But you must be able to show evidence that you acquired them legally, if someone challenges you.

Contact APHA

If you’re not sure about your application, contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol.

Published 17 July 2019
Last updated 3 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated Specimen Specific Certificates (SSCs) section. SSCs issued in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) are valid in GB. SSCs issued in Northern Ireland are valid in NI and the EU. Updated Transaction Specific Certificates (TSCs) section. TSCs are only valid for the person or business named on the certificate.

  2. Added information about elephant ivory, and specimens intended for display.

  3. First published.