This notice sets out how people who trade in, or travel with, endangered animals or plants, or their products, would be affected if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal.
It outlines how the UK would continue to comply with its international obligations under the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) if no deal is reached with the EU. CITES is an international treaty which protects wildlife from unsustainable trade.
Before 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020)
Global trade and movement of endangered animals or plants, or their products (for example skin, fur, teeth, shell, feathers, blood or seeds) is controlled under CITES. In the EU, CITES is implemented via the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations, which set requirements for trade in certain species within, to and from the EU and the rest of the world.
All CITES-listed species are contained within Annexes A to D of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. The Species+ database includes details of all CITES-listed species.
Annex A species have the highest level of protection – in the EU, their commercial use is prohibited except where a certificate has been issued for a specific prescribed purpose, for example for an antique-worked artefact. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is responsible for issuing permits and certificates.
Annex B, C and D species can currently be freely traded in the EU. Commonly traded Annex B items include caviar, snowdrops, orchids, corals, reptiles (for example pythons), and many animal skins used in the manufacture of bags and watch straps (for example alligator skin). Permits are currently needed to move or trade Annex B, C and D species outside the EU.
As the UK is a party to CITES in its own right, it will continue to be bound by the obligations of the Convention after leaving the EU, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. Through transferring the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations into UK law, the UK will continue to comply with its international obligations under CITES.
After March 2019 if there’s no deal
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, species that are currently freely moved and traded between the UK and the EU (those listed in Annexes B – D) would require a CITES permit or import/export notification. This would mean movement of all species controlled under CITES between the UK and the EU would need to follow the same processes as those currently in place for movement between the UK and non-EU countries.
The exact process would depend on the Annex under which the species is listed.
Businesses or individuals trading in or moving endangered species outside the UK would need to check the specific requirements with the intended import or export country on the Global CITES website, and either apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for a CITES permit or request and complete an import notification form.
For Annex A and B listed species:
- imports to the UK from the EU would need an export permit (or re-export certificate) from the EU country the item is moving from, and an import permit from APHA.
- exports from the UK to the EU would need an export permit (or re-export certificate) from APHA and an import permit from the relevant EU member state.
For Annex C listed species:
- imports to the UK from the EU would need an export permit (or re-export certificate) from the relevant EU country and an import notification on entry to the UK.
- exports from the UK to the EU would need an export permit (or re-export certificate) from APHA and an import notification on entry to the EU country.
For Annex D listed species:
- imports to the UK from the EU would need an import notification on entry to the UK.
- exports from the UK to the EU would need an import notification on entry to the EU member state.
Those importing species from the EU would need to consider the routes and points of entry to the UK that are allowed for import and export of species, including making sure that suitable facilities are in place for handling live animals and ensuring they use an appropriate land, sea or air port for the shipment. Further information and instructions will be published around border entry points in due course.
In certain prescribed circumstances, there are exemptions from needing to comply with CITES regulations, meaning a simplified process. For example, a permit is often not required for captive-bred and artificially-propagated plants, personal and household effects and exchanges between scientific institutions.
Information on Border inspection Posts (BIPs), which are approved facilities for carrying out checks on animals and animal products from third countries, can be found here.