CITES regulations for trade in protected flora and fauna

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

If you want to own, transport or trade in protected animals or plants (or their parts or products), you must comply with the rules specified in the Nature Conservation Act and in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species in wild flora and fauna (CITES). You may need a CITES permit or EU certificate.

Examples of parts or products of protected species are:

  • tusks (ivory)
  • feathers
  • exotic leather goods
  • wooden musical instruments

What is CITES?

The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species in wild flora and fauna (CITES) is an international agreement between governments on the protection of wild animals and plants. The agreement entails rules on the trade and transport of specimens of endangered species to ensure that international trade does not threaten their survival.

Which animals and plants are protected by CITES?

Worldwide, there are more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, which are designated as protected species. You can check whether a plant, animal or parts or products thereof are in the Species+ database or are specified in the European regulation on the protection of fauna and flora. If a species is not on the list, you must check if you need to comply with the rules on protection of plant and animal species.

EU certificate

Do you want to buy or sell, transport, give away, trade or keep a CITES species? You may require an EU certificate (Article 10 certificate). In the Netherlands, you can apply for this document to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO, in Dutch).

CITES permit for import into EU

Do you want to import a CITES species into the EU? You require a CITES import permit. In the Netherlands, you can apply for this document to RVO (in Dutch).

You also may require a an export permit or certificate of origin. You apply for an export permit with the authorities in the country you export from. You apply for a certificate of origin to the authorities in the country of origin.

CITES permit for export from the EU

If you want to export a CITES species out of the EU, in most cases you will need a (re-)export permit. You can apply for this permit to RVO (in Dutch).


Exemptions exist for instance when the specimen was born and bred in captivity or artificially propagated, and when it is a pre-convention specimen.

There are also certain cases under which the conditions for the issuance of an import or export permit may be less strict. For example the exchange between scientists and scientific institutions, musical instruments or holiday souvenirs. In some cases regulations may also be less strict for internal trade within the EU.

Marking requirement for protected species

Is your animal listed in Annex A? You must mark the animal in order to facilitate identification and prevent illegal trade. For birds you should use a leg-ring and for reptiles, amphibians and mammals you use a microchip. Is your animal (not yet) marked? In that case you need an exemption, permit or certificate. Contact RVO for more information.

Keeping records

In the Netherlands you are required to keep records if you trade in or own certain species of protected animals or plants. You must for instance keep records on EU and CITES documents, veterinary documents and information on the specimen.


The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) and RVO (in Dutch) monitor if you comply with the CITES regulations. Dutch Customs monitors the import and export of CITES species.