Commercial trade in wildlife

In Canada and around the world, wild plants and animals are threatened with extinction as a result of habitat loss and over-harvesting for commercial and personal purposes.

Wildlife Enforcement collaborates with other federal, provincial and international organizations to ensure that the interprovincial and international trade of native and non-native wild plants and animals and their products is carried out in a legal manner.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty that protects endangered and threatened species of animals and plants from over-exploitation by regulating their international trade.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is the federal government department responsible for administering and enforcing CITES. In Canada, CITES is implemented through the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).


Commercial trade in wildlife must be conducted in compliance with WAPPRIITA. This law stipulates the federal permit requirements for the international trade of wildlife, their parts, and products made from them. WAPPRIITA is the legislation through which Canada enforces and administers its responsibilities under the CITES, an international agreement to protect endangered species. Canada is one of more than 150 countries which have signed the Convention.

How does CITES work?

CITES operates through an import/export permit system. Animals and plants are classified into one of three Appendices depending on their severity of endangerment. All species controlled under the convention and listed in the Appendices are found in the CITES Control List, which is updated approximately every two years. Updated copies are available from regional ECCC offices.

Important: If CITES-listed wildlife is imported into Canada, exported from Canada, or attempted to be exported without the necessary permits, those goods are subject to seizure and forfeiture, and the importers/exporters are liable to prosecution.

CITES control list

Check the CITES Control List to determine whether a particular plant or animal species or derived product is protected under CITES.

CITES permit requirements

If you are trading species or products that contain CITES-listed species you will need a CITES permit in addition to any other trade documents.

Important: Non CITES-listed species may be regulated under laws or treaties of specific countries or provinces. Be sure to check with the trading parties and obtain the appropriate permits before trading occurs. Under WAPPRIITA it is an offence to transport illegally obtained wildlife between provinces and territories or between Canada and other countries.

Remember, your efforts truly make you a partner in worldwide wildlife conservation.

CITES and your business

  • Obtain CITES Permits before an import or export occurs. Note: CITES Permits must be presented if the marks, labels, or accompanying documentation for products you are importing/exporting claim that they contain a CITES controlled species. ECCC can prosecute on label information.
  • Verify that Customs or the federal department of authority validated the CITES permits at the time of export and/or import. Without validation, permits will not be accepted. Also, a copy of the permit will be retained by the Canada Boarder Services Agency (CBSA) and will be forwarded to ECCC for compliance purposes.
  • Ensure all valid CITES documents accompany the shipment. Note: CITES-listed wildlife may be subject to regulations by other Acts of Parliament or provincial and territorial legislation. Other government agencies should be contacted, particularly the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) when importing or exporting live animals or plants.
  • Advise ECCC of wildlife imports in advance, to speed the inspection process.
  • Comply with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Regulations and the CITES Guidelines for Transport and Preparation for Shipment of Live Wild Animals and Plants when shipping live specimens.
  • Removal Notices may be issued by ECCC for WAPPRIITA infractions. Within a specified period of time you must remove goods from Canada at your expense.

Page details

Date modified: