Possession requires that you follow certain procedures depending on the animals, plants or even the derivatives or objects concerned. 

Thus the following distinction is made:

Possession of animals

The possession of “original” animals, also known as “new pets” (NAC - Nouveaux Animaux de Compagnie), such as scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, chameleons, exotic tortoises, frogs, cockatoos, owls, etc., as pets has been increasingly fashionable since the 1990s. The numbers of owners of these new pets is on the rise.

Some of these new pet species are threatened with extinction and are included in CITES to ensure their protection.

In addition to CITES, there are other legal obligations, in particular at the regional level.

Example: animal owners have to apply for an environment permit (class 1, 2 or 3 depending on the species and the number of specimens in their possession) from the municipal authorities.

For more information, contact the Walloon Region, the Flemish Region or the Brussels-Capital Region.

Do you possess this type of specimen at home?

Please first find out the protection status of the specimen by checking which Annex it belongs to.

If it is an Annex A species, your animal must be covered by an original CITES certificate (it is the intra-Community certificate, which is a yellow document in A4 format) to be able to possess it legally at home. If it is a mammal, you should be aware that in Belgium you may not possess all species. To find the list of species permitted for free possession in Belgium, please contact the Regions.

Do you wish to purchase this type of animal in order to possess it at home?  -

Please first find out the protection status of your pet by checking which Annex it belongs to.

• If it is an Annex A species:
It is necessary to ensure that the animal is identified (with a closed leg-ring if it is a bird, with an electronic microchip if it is another animal) and has a valid original certificate (it is a yellow A4 document). For more information if there is any doubt about the validity of the document, contact the CITES department.

By way of reminder, the marketing of species coming from the wild is generally prohibited.

• If it is an Annex B species:
You must require proof of purchase from the seller (example: till receipt enabling a connection to be made to the specimen, invoice etc.), a declaration of transfer (see example), or any other acceptable document (certificate of guarantee etc.).

In addition to these legal obligations, it is important to keep in mind that certain reptiles, spiders and scorpions are venomous and represent a danger for inexperienced owners as well as for the people around them.
In addition to these legal obligations, it is important to make thorough inquiries before acquiring a new pet. Thus you must be well informed of the requirements concerning accommodation and feeding in order to keep your pet in an animal friendly way. After all, some animals live very old (example: parrots) or have very specific needs as to accommodation (heath, light/darkness, humidity, …) or feeding.

Possession of plants

S_Nathalia Klenova  – 123rf.com

Illustration : Phalaenopsis  - Annexe BII

The possession of plants such as cacti and orchids artificially reproduced as ornamental plants does not require CITES documents, regardless of which Annex they belong to.

• If they are Annex A or B specimens imported by you, you must present the CITES export permit of the country of origin as well as the Belgian import permit.

Possession of parts or derivatives involving CITES species

If you are privately and legally in possession of CITES animal (or plant) parts or products (e.g. a leopard skull, an elephant ivory tusk that your grandparents brought from one of our ex-colonies in the 1960s or 1970s), you do not need a document.

This exception does not apply to objects bought and sold.

For other objects made from CITES species (e.g. lamp with sea turtle shell, carved sperm whale teeth, etc.) the seller must be able to give you a valid CITES certificate or an expert's declaration if it is an old worked specimen (old = obtained and worked before 1947).

Please note!  As far as elephant ivory pieces are concerned: since 19/01/2022, only worked ivory pieces dating from before 1947 can be traded provided that the seller gives you a valid CITES certificate. For more information please read the news we published on 14/01/2022.

If you wish to sell or engage in a commercial activity with these parts or derivatives, you then have to:

• apply via the CITES database for intra-Community certificates if your activities take place within the European Community;
• apply via the CITES database for export or re-export permits if your activities take place outside the European Community