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DEFRA guidance on CITES

One of the consequences of Brexit will be that freight forwarders and customs agents will become involved in regimes that they have not previously been affected by.

One such area is Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which is much wider ranging than people might have thought. From speaking to some Members, certain luxury goods manufactured in the EU using for example lizard, snake or crocodile skins and currently freely imported into the UK, will be covered by these regulations. 

In response to a recent BIFA event hosted in Dover, and subsequent conversations, DEFRA have issued the following guidance to be used in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.


For any specific queries with regards to CITES and EU Exit, please send these to: EUExitCITES@defra.gov.uk

For any requests for further training or for general CITES licensing enquiries, please send these to: wildlife.licensing@apha.gov.uk


Guidance, which sets out how people who trade in, or travel with, endangered animals or plants or products thereof, would be affected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-moving-endangered-species-protected-by-cites-if-theres-no-withdrawal-deal

Further information on the list of CITES designated ports is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-cites-listed-species-through-uk-ports-and-airports-after-brexit

General guidance on CITES is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cites-imports-and-exports

Roll on – roll off ports

There is specific guidance for Roll on and Roll Off services. Where relevant, this guidance should be circulated more widely:

When making a commercial import of CITES goods via Roll on and Roll Off (RoRo) services at Harwich, Felixstowe or Portsmouth, you must physically present an endorsed CITES export permit, a UK CITES import permit and a packing list/invoice to Border Force, and have a Customs Declaration Service (CDS) Master Reference Number (MRN) or a CHIEF entry number available.

While you have until the end of the next working day to arrive the goods on CHIEF or CDS, arriving the goods at the time of importation may clear the relating entry on these systems more quickly.

It is imperative that drivers physically present their CITES permits to Border Force for wet stamping upon importation for the goods to be legally traded in the UK and have the related CDS MRN or CHIEF entry number available.

When exporting CITES goods via RoRo services at Harwich, Felixstowe or Portsmouth, you must get your CITES export permit stamped by Border Force prior to departure to ensure a legal export.

To view the full list of CITES designated ports of entry or exit visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-cites-listed-species-through-uk-ports-and-airports-after-brexit.

This link also includes information relating to ports for the importation of products of animal origin.

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