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


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CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between countries, in which agreements have been made about the international trade in endangered animal and plant species. More than 35,000 species have been designated as protected animal or plant species by CITES, of which approximately 5,800 are protected species. Not all of these species are equally strictly protected. That is why subdivisions have been made in levels of protection.

Internationally, the level of protection has been subdivided into three appendices: Appendix I, II and III. The appendix listing a species determines whether international trade is permitted and, if so, under what conditions this is permitted.

CITES appendices I, II en III
Appendix I:

CITES Appendix I lists species that are threatened with extinction and that are or may be harmed by international trade. This means that all commercial trade in specimens of these species taken from the wild is in principle prohibited. Commercial trade in first-generation captive bred (captive-born animals; the so-called F1 generation) is also prohibited.

Appendix II:

Most species are listed in Appendix II. This concerns species that could be threatened with extinction, for example through international trade, without the measures resulting from inclusion in this Appendix.

Some species are listed in Appendix II because they resemble those previously listed. The inclusion of these so-called “look-alikes” makes it easier for inspectors to monitor international trade. International trade in Appendix II species is permitted, but only when each consignment has the required export permits. These are only issued under certain circumstances. For example, trade should not threaten the wild population.

Appendix III:

Appendix III contains species in which a country where such a species occurs, asks other countries to support protection in that country through import controls.

International trade of species listed in Appendix I or II is only possible when permission has been granted in the form of a CITES import permit, export permit or re-export certificate. For species in Appendix III, a CITES permit is not always required, in a number of cases only a certificate of origin is requested.

How exactly does this work in the Netherlands?

The Nature Conservation Act is in force in the Netherlands, linked to it by the Nature Conservation Decree and the Nature Conservation Regulation. The Nature Conservation Act regulates, among other things, that many native animal species in the Netherlands may not be caught from the wild and may not simply be kept. In addition, the CITES agreement and the EU regulations are also regulated within the Nature Conservation Act. The Netherlands also has a Positive List, which indicates which animals may be kept and traded in the Netherlands.

Import, export and re-export of animals
With an import or (re) export permit you can bring an animal into or out of the territory of the European Union.


You need an import permit for an animal of a species listed in Annex A or B of the European Regulation. Animals of a species listed in Appendix A may only be imported for non-commercial purposes. You can think of input for scientific research, breeding in a recognized breeding program aimed at the conservation of the species, or educational purposes. An exception to this are animals that are demonstrably from a second or later generation of captive bred and whose origin is established.

When you import a species that is included in EU Annex C or D, you do not need an import license. You must, however, submit an import notification to customs. You can request this from RVO.

You may not import a number of animals at all. These types are listed in the Suspension Regulation.


Export is when you bring animals from the European Union outside the territory of the EU. Re-export is when you first import animals into the European Union and then export them again. You need a (re) export permit for animal species listed in Appendix A, B or C. Animals of a species listed in Appendix A may only be (re) exported for non-commercial purposes. An exception to this are animals that are demonstrably from a second or later generation offspring. No import or (re) export license is required for internal trade within the European Union.


Any transfer of ownership of CITES registered animals is seen as a commercial act. It does not matter whether you receive money or a favor in return, or whether you want to give the animal away for free. That is why an EU certificate is sometimes required for transfer. The current owner, ie the person who wants to transfer or sell the animal, must request the certificate.

In other countries the EU certificate is also called an ‘Article 10 certificate’. If you are planning to buy an animal covered by CITES, make sure to check whether an EU certificate is required and whether the seller has a valid EU certificate in that case.

An EU certificate may be required in the following cases:

When transferring CITES species

Appendix A: EU certificate.
Annex B: EU certificate if legal origin cannot be proven. If this is possible, no certificate is required.
Attachments C and D: no certificate required.

An EU lawful acquisition certificate

Since 2012 it has been possible to obtain an EU certificate for lawful acquisition. This can be used, for example, if it is not (yet) possible or necessary to issue a certificate for transfer, or to give a specific animal a clear legal basis again.


You do not need an EU certificate when it comes to captive born and bred species listed on Annex X of the Implementing Regulation.

Exemption for transport to the vet from Appendix A animals with origin code W (wild), F (F1 generation offspring) or U (unknown)

Are you transporting a live animal for urgent veterinary treatment and returning it immediately after treatment to where it is allowed to be? Then you do not have to ask for permission.

Various EU certificates
An EU certificate can be valid for multiple transfers. This is then referred to as a “passport” or “specimen-specific certificate”. In principle, a passport or specimen-specific certificate can only be issued for an animal with a seamlessly closed leg ring or microchip. The animal must also be at least F2-generation captive bred or obtained before the regulations.

The EU certificate can also be valid for one transfer. This certificate is then referred to as “transaction-specific”. These EU certificates are issued for an animal with origin code W (wild), F (F1 generation captive bred) or U (unknown). Transaction-specific certificates are also issued for animals without a seamlessly closed leg ring or microchip. You may only take over such animals from the person listed as “keeper” on the certificate. You must also be listed as a destination on the EU certificate and meet the conditions and you need a possession exemption. In practice, the transaction-specific certificate is often used with reptiles.

Some countries, such as Germany, Austria and Denmark, issue EU certificates with photo identification attached. They use these EU certificates in these countries as specimen-specific EU certificates. In the Netherlands they are only valid for the first transfer from the country of issue. Transfers within the Netherlands with an EU certificate with photo identification are therefore not allowed. Have you taken over a specimen with an EU certificate with photo-identification attachment and do you want to transfer this animal? Request a replacement EU certificate from RVO. Examples of an EU certificate can be found in Implementing Regulation EG865 / 2006 .

Are you unsure about the validity of an EU certificate? Please contact .

More information on regulating wildlife trade in the EU, including permit conditions, national legislation, information on marking, breeding animals in captivity, keeping live specimens and other health aspects, can be found on the website .

To check the database for species listed in the Attachments subject to import restrictions, please check the database of Species + .

The official CITES website: .

The website of the wildlife trade monitoring network (Traffic): .

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: .

Netherlands Enterprise Agency / CITES office:
On the website of the RVO you will find more information about CITES, you can also request an EU certificate here.