Endangered species and trade


As of January 8, 2024 stricter measures will be in place for elephant tusk (ivory) and rhinoceros horn parts or products moving across the Canadian border. New permit requirements will impact both raw items (including hunting trophies) and worked personal and household effects. For more information, please refer to Import and export of elephant tusk (ivory) and rhinoceros horn.


Do you buy, sell, import and/or export wildlife species or products that contain wildlife parts or derivatives?

Are you...

  • An importer or exporter of wildlife animal or plant species, either live specimens or products that contain their parts and/or derivatives?
  • A breeder/propagator of wildlife animal or plant species who imports or exports internationally?
  • A store owner who sells wildlife animal or plant species, either live specimens or products that contain their parts or derivatives? Do you have a pet or plant store (for example: plant nursery, florist)? Do you sell traditional or herbal medicines? Do you have a second-hand store, pawn shop or auction house?

To avoid contributing to illegal trade in endangered species, having your items confiscated at the border, or receiving tickets, fines or prosecution, it is your responsibility to know and comply with applicable wildlife trade regulations.

International Convention on Wildlife Trade

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

To prevent over-exploitation of wildlife species through international trade and illegal poaching, the CITES came into force on July 1, 1975. CITES is an international agreement to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) is the legislation through which Canada meets its international obligations under CITES. Currently, there are over 180 member countries that are parties to the Convention. Over 6 000 animal species and over 34 000 plant species are listed under CITES.

Imports and exports of species listed under CITES are controlled through a permit systemIt is illegal to bring a CITES-listed species or its parts and derivatives across Canadian and many international borders without the appropriate CITES permits. CITES-listed animals and plants are classified into one of three appendices, depending upon how endangered they are.

WAPPRITA - Canada's Wildlife Trade Law

In Canada, CITES is administered by Environment and Climate change Canada, and is implemented under (WAPPRIITA).

Under sections 6 to 9 of WAPPRIITA, it is unlawful to:

  1. Import or possess any wild species of animal or plant, including their parts and derivatives that were obtained or exported illegally from another country. This is not restricted to CITES-listed species.
  2. Import or export CITES-listed species without the appropriate permits.
  3. In most cases, offer for sale or possess CITES Appendix I wild species.

Importing and exporting includes shipping by air, sea and rail, by mail and courier, and in personal luggage.

WAPTR Schedule I

Includes all species listed in the CITES appendices (Appendix I, II and III)

Table of Appendix I, II and III
CITES appendix Classification CITES permit requirements Species examples

Appendix I

Species threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by trade.

CITES Export Permit OR a CITES Re-Export Certificate from country of export/re-export AND a CITES Import Permit from country of import.
Note: Trade in these species for commercial purposes is generally prohibited.

  • Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
  • Monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana)
  • Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
  • Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  • Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera alexandrae)

Appendix II

Species that are not currently considered threatened with extinction but could become so if their trade is not strictly regulated. Includes species that are listed because they are similar in appearance to other listed species.

CITES Export Permit OR a CITES Re-Export Certificate from country of export/re-export.

  • American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • Tree frogs (Agalychnis spp.)
  • Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
  • Hoodia (Hoodia spp.)
  • Venus fly-trap (Dionaea muscipula)
  • Northern river otter (Lontra canadensis)
  • Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)

Appendix III

Species under special management in certain countries to prevent or restrict exploitation.

CITES Export Permit OR a CITES Certificate of Origin from country of export/re-export.

  • Walrus - Canada (Odobenus rosmarus)
  • Pink coral - China (Corallium secundum)

WAPTR Schedule II

Lists the animal species requiring an import permit. These species are NOT necessarily listed in the CITES appendices. These are species that may pose a risk to Canadian ecosystems.

WAPTR Schedule III

Lists the CITES species that are recognized as endangered or threatened within Canada.

Please go to the Checklist of CITES species for a complete list of CITES species. In order to do your research, it is advisable to know the scientific name of the species.

WAPTR Schedule I, II and III listed species can be found on the Department of Justice Canada's website.

You must have all necessary permits before you bring a CITES-listed species, or an item with a part/derivative of a CITES-listed species, across an international border. The complete list of parties to the convention and their contact information can be found at List of Parties to the Convention. When an animal is listed under CITES, permit requirements apply to live specimens and all parts or derivatives of that species. When a plant is listed under CITES, permit requirements apply to live specimens and all parts or derivatives of that species unless the listing is annotated to specify the regulated items.

Parts and derivatives can be included in items such as clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, herbal medicines, cosmetic creams and food products.

Did You Know?

  • All cats, except for the domestic cat, are protected under CITES. Many spotted cats are Appendix I species.
  • All but four species of parrots are regulated under CITES.
  • Orchids account for the majority of the species listed in the CITES appendices.
  • It is prohibited to import or export raw elephant tusk (ivory) or rhinoceros horn except under specific circumstances. Permits will only be issued for museum specimens, scientific research, zoos or enforcement activities. Find out more at Import and export of Elephant tusk (ivory) and rhinoceros horn

What you need to know and do

  • It is your responsibility to know if you are conducting trade in wildlife species (flora and fauna, and their derivatives) listed in CITES appendices, as well as to follow all of the requirements to legally transport and/or have these species or products in commerce. This includes complying with any other applicable wildlife regulations that apply in the jurisdictions in which the species is transported, imported, or exported.
  • You must have all necessary permits before you transport, import, or export a listed wildlife species, or an item containing a part/derivative of a listed wildlife species.
  • All CITES permits must be presented to, and validated by, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the border. CITES permits not validated by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the time of import or export will be considered invalid, and could result in the shipment being stopped and/or confiscated.
  • In most cases, commercial trade of CITES Appendix I WILD species is prohibited. Limited commercial trade of captive-bred CITES Appendix I animal species is allowed only from CITES-registered facilities.
  • Commercial trade in cultivated CITES Appendix I plants and CITES Appendix II or III species or products containing their parts or derivatives is allowed, but only if the necessary CITES permits were obtained before the importation or exportation occurs.
  • It is important to keep your CITES permits. If you are selling CITES-listed species, make sure to ask the importer to give you a copy of the CITES permits. Inspections by wildlife officers can be made at any time, so keep a record to prove that the specimens or items were legally imported.
  • The same legal, permitting and validation requirements apply to imports and exports through e-commerce..
  • Exercise Caution - Just because something is available for sale does not mean that it is legal.
    • Be aware that vendors, although selling legal items, may not be aware of the permit requirements for their import or export. Despite what they may say, it is advisable to check for yourself. You do not want a surprise at the border.

If your business relates to traditional or herbal medicines, you can also refer to the Environment Canada brochure entitled Animal and plant ingredients in traditional medicine - Canada.ca .

Are there other requirements?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has various requirements for the importation and exportation of live animals and plants, as well as for various animal and plant products and by-products for human consumption.

Products for human consumption are also regulated by Health Canada through product-specific regulatory programs, which are administered under the authority of the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations.

When shipping live animals by air, you must comply with the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations to protect their health. Check with the airline for more information. For other means of transport, you are to follow the CITES Transport Guidelines.

Be aware that Canada's Species at Risk Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and provincial/territorial regulations also protect wildlife species by including provisions relating to the possession, buying, selling and trading of Canadian species. It is your responsibility to comply with the applicable Canadian wildlife regulations.

Are there exemptions from requiring cites permits to import/export wildlife parts or derivatives?

Yes. There are non-commercial exemptions for souvenirs, and personal and household goods, but restrictions apply. Please refer to the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations, or International trade in protected animals and plants.

What happens if you do not comply with the law

There are strict penalties associated with not complying to the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations, including fines and/or imprisonment, seizure, and forfeiture of things seized.

The fine for an individual is between $5,000 and $2,000,000 and / or imprisonment up to 5 years. For corporations, the fine is between $100,000 and $8,000,000.

Environmental and wildlife crimes [including the illegal import and export of elephant tusks (ivory) and rhinoceros horns (e.g. medicinal products, jewelry, interior decoration, etc.)] can be reported anonymously by contacting the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) – or in Quebec 1-800-711-1800. For more info, please visit: Canadian crime stoppers

For more information on CITES and WAPPRIITA

For information on how and where to apply for a CITES permit, contact Environment and Climate Change Canada at:

CITES Canada - Management Authority
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
351, St. Joseph Blvd, PVM - 15th floor,
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Telephone: 1-855-869-8670
Fax: 1-855-869-8671
email: cites@ec.gc.ca
website: CITES

The information presented here is a summary of the law. If there is a discrepancy with the information presented in the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, the legislation and relevant regulations prevail.

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