Wildlife trade

Information for travellers and online shoppers

Taking wildlife and products (including souvenirs) into and out of Australia

ButterfliesSnake wineCorals, clams and shellsMaskIvory souvenirs DrumAnimal hide

'Wildlife' is: Any whole, part or derivative of a plant or animal, either living or non-living. Eg Wood, seeds, insects, leather/fur, pills/medicines, faeces, teeth, meat, live plants, fresh or dried flowers etc.

Some tourist souvenirs and items you buy over the internet are made from or contain derivatives of plants and animals. Some may be from endangered species.

If you are buying products online or are travelling to/from Australia (including to study or live permanently) read the information below.

Before you travel or purchase goods

  1. Are you bringing plants or animals into or out of Australia - check to see whether the product or item is made out of plants or animals (wildlife products).
  2. If so, make sure you check if it is on the following regulated lists (some plants and animals may appear on more than one list):
     Internationally endangered plants and animals list (known as CITES list)
     Live import list
     List of exempt Australian native specimens—check this if you’re leaving Australia
  3. If it is on any of the above lists, you may need a permit so that you can legally bring your souvenirs or products into or out of Australia.
  4. If it applies to you, make sure you read about personal effects and household items.
  5. If you’re relocating to or from Australia with a household pet, read about exporting and importing household pets.
  6. If you are travelling with an item obtained before its listing date on CITES, read about Pre–CITES certificates.
  7. Contact the department before you leave or enter Australia to find out if you need a permit.

Commonly seized items

Commonly seized items that are made from plant or animal products include:

Complementary medicines

Some complementary medicines, also known as 'traditional' or 'alternative' medicines, contain ingredients from endangered species such as tiger, bear, monkey, saussurea/aucklandia (found in Po Chai pills). Before buying complementary medicines, check the ingredients carefully and find out if they may be brought into Australia.

Elephant products and ivory

Elephant products such as ivory have been highly sought after for jewellery and ornaments for centuries. Elephant specimens are also traded as hunting trophies and leather goods.

No elephant items may be brought in and out of Australia unless they come with a pre-CITES certificate.


Hoodia is an appetite suppressant from the Hoodia plant, which is at risk of becoming endangered. Although you won’t need an import permit if you are carrying it in your personal baggage in small quantities, you will need to obtain a CITES export permit from the country you get it from.

Be aware, some companies have been known to provide clients with a photocopy of an existing certificate. This is not sufficient to import your goods. You must obtain a valid CITES certificate including both your exporters and your own details from the CITES management authority of the exporting country.

Corals, clams and shells

Many corals, clams and some shells—and jewelry made from these items—need a permit to bring them into, or take them out of, Australia.

Hunting trophies

Many animals that are commonly targeted by trophy hunters have been included on the list of endangered species. Depending on the animal, the trophy may not be brought into Australia, or may need a permit to do so.

Live Australian animals and plants

Live Australian native animals and plants may not leave Australia for commercial uses under any circumstances.

You may be allowed to take some live Australian native animals, such as pets out of Australia. Permits are required to take live Australian native plants and animals from Australia.

Australian native animal and plant specimens (not live)

Australian native plants and animals are regulated under national environment law. All Australian native wildlife is prohibited from export unless the species appears on the list of exempt native specimens (LENS).

You will need a permit to import or export most Australian native specimens. Some non-live specimens may leave Australia without a permit, as long as they are in the exact form specified in the list.

Personal luggage

Personal effects (baggage)

You may be able to import or export some wildlife specimens if they are personal items and are carried with you in your luggage. Some may still require a CITES export permit from the exporting country, but may be exempt from import permit requirements. Some may require both a CITES export and CITES import permit.


Monitor lizards have become a staple in the reptile pet trade. They are also traditionally hunted for meat and skins in other countries (i.e. used on Kundu drums). Other reptiles and lizards are also protected by both CITES and domestic regulations. Permits are required for the trade in live animals, as well as in CITES animal parts or products.

Does your luggage break wildlife laws?

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Last updated: Tuesday, 16-Aug-2011 15:04:18 AEST