Trading CITES-listed specimens through UK ports and airports from 1 January 2021

Designated land, sea and air ports for trading or moving CITES-listed endangered animals, plants, or their parts and derivatives from 1 January 2021.

The UK has left the EU

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

You can also read about the transition period.

The UK will continue to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Your trade routes may change from 1 January 2021. You’ll need to import (bring in) or export (take out) CITES specimens through the designated land, sea and air ports.

CITES-designated points of entry and exit

The customs offices at the following points of entry and exit will be designated for CITES trade from 1 January 2021.

You can use these airports:

  • Belfast International
  • Birmingham International
  • Bristol International
  • Cardiff International
  • East Midlands
  • Edinburgh
  • Gatwick
  • Glasgow International
  • Glasgow Prestwick
  • London Heathrow (worldwide distribution centre)
  • London Luton
  • London Stansted
  • Manchester
  • Southampton International

You can use these ports:

  • Belfast Seaport
  • Dover
  • Eurotunnel
  • Felixstowe
  • Harwich international
  • Holyhead
  • Liverpool Seaforth Container Terminal
  • London Gateway (Port of London)
  • Plymouth
  • Poole
  • Portsmouth International Port
  • Southampton ABP
  • Tilbury (Port of London)

You can use these post offices (for import only):

  • Coventry International Parcel Post Hub
  • Heathrow International Distribution Centre

Read more about importing and exporting CITES specimens by post.

Gibraltar will not be included as a UK-designated port for CITES trade.

Additional port arrangements for CITES specimens

There are additional arrangements if you’re using roll on roll off (RoRo) services or Eurotunnel.

Using roll on roll off (RoRo) services

You’ll be able to use RoRo services, for example car ferries, at the following ports:

  • Dover
  • Eurotunnel
  • Felixstowe
  • Harwich
  • Portsmouth

You’ll need to stop and present your CITES documents to a customs official for endorsement.

Read more about importing goods to the UK or exporting to the EU through roll on roll off services.

Importing and exporting CITES specimens through Eurotunnel

To import CITES specimens into the UK through Eurotunnel you must present your CITES documents for endorsement, and make a customs declaration on the CHIEF system before you transport them.

If you’re exporting specimens from the UK through Eurotunnel, you should prepare for it to be very busy. You must present your CITES documents to Border Force at a suitable designated point of entry and exit before you travel through Eurotunnel.

CITES specimens entering the UK from the EU

You must use one of the CITES-designated points of entry and exit to move CITES specimens from the EU to the UK.

Live or temperature-controlled specimens can only pass through designated points of entry or exit with the facilities or expertise to handle them. You must contact your chosen point of entry or your freight handler to check that they can handle your CITES specimens.

CITES species coming into the UK from outside the EU

For all CITES species that enter the UK from outside the EU, different animal and plant health conditions apply. You must check the guidance and use the correct point of entry and exit if you’re importing live animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin.

Moving live animals and animal products

The following airports are designated to handle live CITES animals coming directly from non-EU countries:

Airport Live CITES animals
Edinburgh Dogs, cats, ferrets, lagomorphs, rodents, amphibians, reptiles and fish, molluscs and crustaceans
Gatwick Reptiles, amphibians, fish, molluscs, crustaceans, birds and all mammals except ungulates and equines
Glasgow Prestwick Ungulates and equines only
Heathrow All species
Manchester Fish, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians
Stansted Ungulates and equines only

Read the guidance about border control posts (BCP) for animals and animal products.

Moving products of animal origin (POAO)

Before you import products of animal origin (POAO), you should check that the port or airport has the approvals and facilities to handle:

  • products for human consumption
  • products not for human consumption
  • chilled or frozen goods

Moving food not of animal origin (FNAO)

You can move food not of animal origin (FNAO) for human consumption or animal feed through designated points of entry or exit for high risk foods.

Moving controlled plants or plant products or forestry materials (FM)

Read the guidance about which ports or airports can handle the import and export of controlled plants and plant products or regulated forestry material.

Moving to approved inland facilities

You may also import controlled plants and plant specimens or regulated forestry material through any CITES-designated ports if they are going to approved inland facilities.

Use the guidance to understand the rules and documents needed:

CITES specimens transiting through the UK

You’ll need CITES documents from each country if your specimen passes through the UK when moving between EU countries.

For example, to move a CITES specimen from France to the Republic of Ireland (RoI) through the UK, you would need an:

  • export permit from France
  • import and re-export permit from the UK
  • import permit from RoI

You must use a CITES designated point of entry and exit in the UK, and present your documents to the UK Border Force.

If your specimen passes through the UK when moving between a non-EU country (third country) and an EU country, you may be able to get a transit exemption so you do not need to get UK CITES documents. Contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol to check if you can get an exemption.

You can contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol for advice if your CITES specimen will transit through the UK.

Contact Defra

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

Published 16 January 2019
Last updated 2 July 2020 
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