What procedures must you follow when you travel with species or specimens protected by the CITES Convention?

M_Oleh Tokarev – 123rf.com

Illustration: travelling inside and outside the EU.

Various scenarios may arise:

- You are travelling with your pet within or outside the European Union.
- You are travelling with your personal effects (e.g.: leopard fur coat, alligator watch straps, ivory bracelet, etc. ) within or outside the European Union.

Are you travelling with your pet?

Within the European Union

If it is a specimen of an Annex A species

- You simply have to accompany the specimen with its intra-Community certificate if it has one. 
- If the specimen is not covered by a certificate, you can apply for an ownership certificate BEFORE you travel, from the CITES department via the Belgian CITES database.
- This ownership certificate is only issued for:
     o a single live specimen,
     o born and bred in captivity,
     o identified by one of the methods that comply with the regulation (closed leg-ring for birds and microchip for other animals).

This document is valid for multiple cross-border movements provided that the animal is accompanied by its owner and that the certificate is accompanied by a continuation sheet, which must be stamped by customs at each border crossing.

If it is a specimen of an Annex B species:
- in principle, you do not need an official CITES document but you must always be able to present a prove of origin. To avoid problems, it is preferable to apply for an ownership certificate BEFORE you travel.

To the European Union

In order to travel with your Annex A or B animal from third countries (outside the European Union), you must apply for an ownership certificate from the CITES management authority of the Member State in which you arrive first.

Example:
You live in Morocco and you are going to travel around Europe with your scarlet macaw (Ara macao). The first country you enter is Belgium. You must therefore apply for an ownership certificate from the Belgian CITES department. In order to obtain it, it is necessary to submit an application and present an equivalent document from Morocco.

Outside the European Union

In order to travel with your Annex A or B animal to third countries (outside the European Union), you must apply for an ownership certificate from the CITES management authority of the territory in which the specimen is located.

Example 
You live in Belgium and you are travelling to Switzerland with your barn owl. You will therefore have to apply for an ownership certificate from the Belgian CITES department via the Belgian CITES database.

In order to travel with your Annex C animal to third countries, you must apply for a CITES export permit from the Belgian CITES department via the Belgian CITES database.

In order to travel with your Annex C or D animal from a third country to the European Union, you must apply for an import notification via the Belgian CITES database, have it countersigned and stamped by customs at the point of entry into the European Union.

Are you travelling with your personal effects?

If you are not a trader of wild species, but simply a traveller or expatriate returning with your household effects, you should know that the European Community (EC) regulation on the trade in wild species may also apply to you.

Within the European Union

For travel within the European Union with your personal effects (e.g.: an ivory bracelet, a leopard fur coat, an alligator watch strap, etc.), you do not have to apply for a CITES document regardless of the Annex to which they belong. It is clear that the concept of personal effects implies that the number of items is limited. If you are transporting a large number of specimens, the concept of personal effects does not apply.

To or from the European Union

When you bring home (within the European Union) your souvenirs or personal effects from outside the European Union for the first time, you may need an export permit issued by the country in which you were on holiday or in which you were previously resident.

In certain cases, an import permit from the European Union Member State that you are entering must be obtained prior to your arrival in the EU (see table below).

If you subsequently wish to leave the European Union and take one of these items on holiday or to a new residence outside the European Union, this is a re-export and you may need one of the documents listed in the table below.

If you leave the European Union with a souvenir derived from wild species listed in the European Union (EU) regulation on the trade in wild species and you then return to the European Union with this object, this is a re-introduction. You will therefore have to present a “copy for the holder” (yellow copy of the export permit) to each border control point.


Table : Documents required by EU residents for the transport of personal objects derived from animal and plant species regulated by CITES and the European Community (EC) regulation on the trade in wild species
 

Annex
Return/Departure
Required Documents: Issued prior to travel and presented to the customs office
A
 
Introduction (first import into the EU)
 
 
 
Export permit (issued by the specimen’s country of origin)
import permit (issued by an EU Member State)
Export (leaving the EU)
 
 
 
Export permit (issued by an EU Member State)
+ import permit (issued by the destination country)
Re-export (leaving the EU again)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Copy for the holder” (yellow copy) of an EU export/import permit (presented at the first point of exit from or entry into the EU)
or Proof of purchase within the EU (when necessary), e.g. invoice/ receipt,
or a stamped copy of the (re-)export document (presented at the first point of entry into the EU)
or Re-export certificate (issued by the country of re-export)
Re-introduction (returning again to the EU)
“Copy for the holder” of an EU export/import permit (presented at the first point of exit from or entry into the EU)
or Proof of purchase within the EU (when necessary), e.g. invoice/ receipt
or a stamped copy of the (re-)export document (presented at the first point of entry into the EU)
or import permit (issued by an EU Member State)
B
 
Introduction (first import into the EU)
 
Export permit (issued by the specimen’s country of origin)
Export (leaving the EU)
 
Export permit (issued by an EU Member State)
Re-export (leaving the EU again)
 
Copy for the holder” of an EU export/import permit (presented at the first point of exit from or entry into the EU)
or proof of purchase within the EU (when necessary), e.g. invoice/ receipt,
or a stamped copy of the (re-)export document (presented at the first point of entry into the EU) or a re-export certificate (issued by the country of re-export)
 
Re-introduction (returning again to the EU)
“Copy for the holder” of an EU export/import permit (presented at the first point of exit from or entry into the EU)
or proof of purchase within the EU (when necessary), e.g. invoice/ receipt,
or a stamped copy of the (re-)export document (presented at the first point of entry into the EU)
or an import permit (issued by the EU Member State)