Guidance

Trading and moving endangered species protected by CITES from 1 January 2021

The rules for trading or moving CITES-listed endangered animals or plants, or their parts or derivatives from 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) protects species listed in Annexes A to D of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. The regulations will be kept in UK law after 1 January 2021, with some changes.

The main change will be that you’ll need CITES documents to move CITES specimens between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and the EU, and GB and NI, for species listed in Annexes A to D.

You’ll also need to use a designated point of entry or exit and present your documents to Border Force for endorsement.

You should check other custom controls required by HMRC. Read more about importing goods to the UK.

Trading with the EU

You’ll no longer be able to freely move species listed in Annexes B – D between between GB and the EU, and between GB and NI, from 1 January 2021.

Species in Annex A will continue to be subject to stricter controls.

You’ll need to check the requirements of the EU country you are importing from (bring in) or exporting to (take out) through their management authority.

The process will depend on the Annex in which the species is listed.

Species in Annex A and B

To import species listed in Annex A and B to GB from the EU, or move them to GB from NI, you’ll need an:

  • export permit (or re-export certificate) from the exporting EU country
  • import permit from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

To export species listed in Annex A and B from GB to the EU, or move them from GB to NI, you’ll need an:

  • export permit (or re-export certificate) from APHA
  • import permit from the exporting EU country

Species in Annex C

To import species listed in Annex C to GB from the EU, or move them to GB from NI, you’ll need an:

  • export permit (or re-export certificate) from the exporting EU country
  • import notification on entry to the UK

To export species listed in Annex C from GB to the EU, or move them from GB to NI, you’ll need an:

  • export permit (or re-export certificate) from APHA
  • import notification on entry to the EU country

Species in Annex D

For species listed in Annex D, you’ll need an import notification on entry for:

  • imports to GB from the EU, or moving to GB from NI
  • exports from GB to an EU country, or moving from GB to NI

Exemptions

In very specific cases, you may not need a CITES permit to move (import or export) personal or household items that contain a CITES-controlled species.

Contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol for more information.

Points of entry and exit

You’ll need to use a designated point of entry or exit when trading with the EU.

You should check to make sure your port is suitable to process the following (if appropriate to your shipment):

  • live animals
  • products of animal origin (POAO)
  • products not for human consumption
  • chilled frozen goods
  • forestry materials

Getting and using a CITES permit

All businesses and individuals moving CITES specimens between GB and the EU, and between GB and NI, must present their CITES documents upon arrival or departure. Border Force will, if everything is in order, endorse the permits. This will take place at the customs office.

Read about where to present your documents when trading CITES-listed specimens through UK ports and airports from 1 January 2021.

Find out how to apply for a CITES permit in the UK. This includes the current fees for CITES permits.

Under very specific circumstances, you can apply for a retrospective permit after you’ve imported, exported or re-exported a CITES specimen.

Read the guidance on border control posts (BCP), which are approved facilities for carrying out checks on animals and animal species entering the UK.

Returned goods

If your CITES specimen has been exported from GB but is rejected by the importing country, contact UK Border Force at CITESteam@homeoffice.gov.uk to let them know it’s been rejected.

You’ll also need to get CITES documents to re-import the items into GB. Contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol for more details.

Further information will be added to GOV.UK in the coming weeks.

Using a customs agent

You may choose to use an agent. Read about how to appoint someone to deal with customs on your behalf.

Contact APHA

You can contact APHA for support with trading or moving endangered animals or plants listed under CITES.

Published 14 October 2020