The Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving Australian native wildlife by regulating international trade. This helps to protect targeted species against overexploitation, and Australian ecosystems against the introduction of invasive species.
The Australian Government also supports the efforts of other nations to protect their wildlife, by implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- What is CITES?
- CITES 16th Conference of the Parties
- How CITES works
- CITES list—Australian guide to the list
- Permit exemptions
- Pre–CITES certificates (antiques)
- Australia’s stricter domestic measures on certain listed species
- Declared specimens under the commercial import program
- Specimens always requiring a permit
- Non detriment finding
What is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)?
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) helps to ensure that international trade does not threaten species with extinction, protecting about 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants.
Australia is one of more than 175 countries that are party to CITES.
CITES list and appendices
CITES places species into three appendices based on their conservation status and risk from trade. The Australian Guide to the list of CITES species clearly identifies the conditions or restrictions that apply to many specimens, including any additional measures (stricter domestic measures) that are unique to Australian law.
- CITES list—Australian guide to the list of CITES species
- Australia's stricter domestic measures on certain listed species
The CITES International website has a comprehensive database of every CITES species .
Appendix I contains species threatened with extinction. Trade in these specimens is usually prohibited (occurs only in very exceptional circumstances) or is limited to pre–CITES specimens (specimens harvested before the date of listing on CITES).
Appendix I species includes (but is not limited to) great apes, lemurs, the giant panda, many South American monkeys, great whales, cheetah, leopards, tiger, elephants (Australian stricter domestic measure applies), rhinoceroses, many birds of prey, cranes, pheasants and parrots, all sea turtles, some crocodiles and lizards, giant salamanders, and some mussels, orchids, cycads and cacti.
If you want to trade in Pre–CITES specimens you will need a pre-CITES certificate issued by the CITES management authority in the country of export.
Appendix II contains species that, although not threatened with extinction now, might become so unless trade in them is strictly regulated.
Australia has chosen to list some Appendix II species as Appendix I via stricter domestic measures.
If you want to trade in Appendix II species to/from Australia you will generally need both a CITES export and import permit issued by CITES management authorities.
Some Appendix II specimens carried as personal effects will not require permit.
Appendix II also includes some non–threatened species, to prevent threatened species from being traded under the guise of non–threatened species that are similar in appearance. These are referred to as ‘look–alike species’.
Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country that has asked other CITES parties for help in controlling trade.
If you are importing or exporting an Appendix III specimen to/from Australia from the listing country, it is treated like an Appendix II specimen, and you will generally need both an export and an import permit. If the Appendix III specimen comes from any other country (i.e. not the listing country), a CITES certificate of origin must be obtained. These documents must be obtained from the CITES management authority in the country of export and import .
Import and export of CITES specimens
You may be allowed to commercially trade in CITES–listed plants and animals subject to specific conditions outlined on the CITES list. In general:
- Appendix I specimens may not be traded for commercial purposes unless they are pre–CITES or subject to very strict conditions licensed by the CITES Secretariat.
- Appendix II specimens may be exported from Australia if they are from an approved source. These specimens will require a CITES export permit issued by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. They may also require an import permit from the country that they are being exported to.
- Appendix II specimens may be imported into Australia if you have permission to export from the CITES management authority in the country of export. Most will also require an Australian import permit issued by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
- Appendix II specimens that are declared specimens must have been bred in captivity, artificially propagated or come from a commercial import program to be imported into Australia. These specimens will require both a CITES export and import permit.
- Appendix III specimens may be imported into Australia if you have permission from the CITES management authority in the exporting country. This will either be a CITES export permit or a certificate of origin. If the specimens are imported from the listing country, a CITES import permit issued by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities will also be required.
Australia does not permit the export of live native mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibian for commercial purposes.
Non–commercial imports and export of CITES specimens may be permitted for the following uses:
- Travelling exhibition
- Exchange of scientific specimens between registered scientific organisations
- Conservation breeding or propagation
- Household pets
- Personal effects for travellers
Strict criteria apply to non–commercial trade.
- For more information about CITES contact:
International Wildlife Trade Section
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: +61 2 6274 1900
Facsimile: +61 2 6274 1921
Exercise caution when buying or selling plant and animal products online. Your purchase may contain endangered species.