Permits for trade in protected species

The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) invites all applicants to continue to submit their CWS permit applications through the regular channels during the COVID-19 outbreak. While CWS will continue to strive to meet the published service standards, we would like to advise applicants that they may experience delays in obtaining a decision.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), any import or export of species specified on the CITES list requires a permit for presentation at the port of exit and port of entry. In Canada, these permits are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada and relevant partners, and they must be obtained *prior to exporting or importing the CITES-listed specimens.

*Note: Permits will not be issued retroactively to release a CITES-listed specimen after it has been detained by customs due to lack of required documentation.

Do you need a permit

The import or export of all CITES protected species requires a CITES permit. An important step in preparing to enter or exit Canada is to check if you will be transporting anything that is, contains, or is made from a CITES-protected species. A checklist is available for every species that requires a CITES permit. *Use the scientific name of the species in the keyword search on the CITES list to find out whether your item requires a permit.

* Search tool: the results will be more precise if you use the scientific name of the species. A quick internet search will give you the scientific name.

CITES checklist

The checklist will display whether the species is in Appendix I (blue circle with I), Appendix II (green circle with II) or Appendix III (orange circle with III).

Permit requirements

CITES protects wild plants or animals by setting controls on international trade so that trade will not threaten the survival of the species. Permits are required for the import or export of specimens of CITES protected species. This protection applies to the CITES-listed species in any form:

  • alive or dead
  • whole or in parts
  • or any products made from them
CITES has 3 levels of protection:

Level 1 – Appendix 1

Denoted by a blue circle level 1 to the right of your species name on the checklist.

Includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in these species is permitted only in exceptional cases. Trade may be allowed for scientific research; or for captive-bred, artificially reproduced or pre-CITES convention specimens.

Specimens to be imported into Canada must be accompanied by:

  • Canadian CITES import permit
  • CITES export permit issued by the exporting country

Specimens to be exported from Canada must be accompanied by:

  • Canadian CITES export permit.
  • CITES import permit may be required to enter destination country.

Level 2 – Appendix 2

Denoted by a green circle level 2 to the right of your species name on the checklist.

Includes species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but trade is controlled to ensure it will not cause harm to the survival of the species.

Specimens to be imported into Canada must be accompanied by:

  • CITES export permit issued by the exporting country

Specimens to be exported from Canada must be accompanied by:

  • Canadian CITES export permit

Level 3 – Appendix 3

Denoted by an orange circle level 3to the right of your species name on the checklist.

Applies to species protected in a country that has asked for help in monitoring its trade.

Specimens to be imported into Canada must be accompanied by:

  • CITES export permit, when the specimen is from the country that listed the species.

or

  • CITES certificate of origin or CITES re-export certificate if the specimen is from a country that did not list the species.

Specimens to be exported from Canada must be accompanied by:

  • CITES export permit for species that Canada has listed.

or

  • CITES certificate of origin or CITES re-export certificate if the specimen was not listed by Canada.

Special considerations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) must be consulted when importing or exporting live animals or plants

Special requirements exist for trade in these species:

Permit validation

CITES requires that Canadian CITES export permits be validated and shipments inspected by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at point of exit (land, airport or seaport) prior to exporting from Canada. This mandatory requirement is a condition of the permit.

Canadian CITES permits not validated by the CBSA will be considered illegitimate, resulting in detainment of shipments and possible seizure by the Customs authorities in the destination country.

Validation by CBSA means that box 17 “For customs use only” of each permit must be completed by a Canada border services officer.

Importing to Canada

A CITES import permit is required for species listed in CITES Appendix I.

For species listed in CITES Appendices II or III, a Canadian CITES import permit is not required.

An import permit is required for species listed in Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulation Schedule II.

Exporting from Canada

Export by mail

Please note that Canada Post will not present CITES shipments for the required validation by CBSA. For a fee, a customs broker (Canadian Society of Customs Brokers) can assist in ensuring the shipment is properly declared to CBSA, is inspected, and your permit is validated.

Export by courier company

Where the shipment is sent using a courier company, the exporter should confirm they will submit the export declaration and/or CITES permit to the CBSA for validation. As the exporter, you must specify this requirement to the courier company.

Submit your permit application

Animals

Please send to the responsible provincial or territorial departments where you are located (export only). If your province or territory is not listed, the request for a species that is not from those provinces or this is for import, please submit your application to CITES Canada

British Columbia

FrontCounter BC Homepage

New Brunswick

CITES Export Permit (Wildlife) (gnb.ca)

Yukon

How to buy or export wildlife parts and products | Government of Yukon


Marine species

Export only, for imports submit your application to CITES Canada

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
Email CCO-BCC_Info@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Telephone: 1-888-641-6464
Fax: (902) 775-7100


Plants (including wood)

CITES Canada
Email cites@ec.gc.ca
Telephone : 1 855 869 8670
Fax : 1 855 869 8671

Additional obligations of exporters and importers

In addition to holding a Canadian CITES permit or certificate, you are required to obtain any documentation required under any other Canadian or foreign law for the transport, possession, import or export of the specimens. There may be additional constraints set by foreign countries should your shipment transit through those jurisdictions on route to its final destination. It is your obligation to verify the route taken by the expeditor and ensure all required documents are in order.

Contact us

If you have any questions or comments about CITES and CITES permits, or if you want assistance in completing the CITES permit application forms, contact us at cites@ec.gc.ca or 1- 855-869-8670.

CITES Canada - Management Authority
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
351, St. Joseph Blvd, PVM - 16th floor,
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Telephone: 1-855-869-8670
Fax: 1-855-869-8671
CITES Email

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