Cites an agreement to avoid having problems

cites fur

Cites the important document for importing and exporting fur garments

I have been asked to talk about CITES: one of the documents you lose patience and days filling it in OVER when you have to import or export skins or its derivatives like leather or fur garments.

I hope it’s useful for you above all to clear up a subject that even if it is known by who works in the sector and can seem simple and given, still presents loTs of difficulties in the operative phase. 

A bit like when in the airplane the hostess brings you the Visa you are required to fill out and we look at her with arrogance, we have filled it in thousands of times. After two minutes we are traipsing up and down the plane looking or another form because we wrote our date of birth backwards. 

The aim of the mission: not get blocked at customs because you don’t know what a Boselaphus tragocamelus was.

No more excuses! 

Cites (the International  Convention on the trade of endangered wild species of flora and fauna ) is an agreement between governments with the aim of guaranteeing that the international trade of samples of animals and plants does not threaten their very existence. 

Today the international trade in wild animals moves billions of euros and includes hundreds of thousands of both animal and plant samples.

Trade varies from living animals and plants to a vast range of products including food products, exotic fur, wooden musical instruments, timber and even souvenirs and medicines.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t include little statues of the Eiffel Tour or snow balls from Venice.

Cites gives various degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, that are exchanged as living samples, furs or dried herbs.

Including herbal teas!

Just a few historical winks by way of duty, I promise!

Cites was written following a resolution adopted in 1963 in a meeting of the members of the IUCN (The World Conservation Union).

The text of the convention was finally approved in a meeting of representatives from 80 countries in Washington, D.C., United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES came into force.

The original convention was filed at the government depository in Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, each version being equally valid.

Cites is an international agreement to which the states and the regional organizations for economic support adhere voluntarily.

The States that have accepted to be tied by the convention (“adhered” to CITES) are known as Parties.

I warn you that I will call “the Parties” with less contractual name of Countries just to be less stiff.

If Cites is legally binding for the Parties – in simple terms they have to actuate the Convention – it does not substitute national laws. Even if in practice it seems to me that all states follow only their own rules.

For many years la CITES has been one of the agreements with the largest number of adhesions, to date as many as 183 Countries have signed up.

How Cites works

Cites works subordinating the international trade of samples of selected species to certain very rigid checks.

The species protected Cites are divided into three annexes, based on the degree of protection they need. (For the types of species covered see the convention)


Annex 1 includes endangered species. The trade of samples of these species is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

For the SAMPLES: an import licence issued by the managing authority of the importing state is required and it can only be issued if the sample does not have to be used for mainly commercial purposes and if the importing will happen for purposes that are not damaging to the survival of the species.

In the case of a living animal or plant, the scientific authority must be convinced that the proposed receiver is suitably equippped to host and take care of them. (CITES already foresees WELFUR).

Obviously you need an export permit or a re-exportation cerificate released by the managing authority of the State of exportation or di re-exportation.

What I am about to say may seem banale but evidence would suggest unfortunately it is not:

An export permit can be issued only if the sample has been obtained legally; the trade will not be damaging for the survival of the species; and an import permit has already been released.

A re-exportation authorization can be issued only if the sample has been imported in accordance with the orders of convention, basically everything is regular and, in the case of a live animal or a plant, an import licence has been issued.

In the case of a live animal or a plant, it must be prepared and shipped to reduce the risk of injuries, damage to health or cruel treatment to a minimum.

Appendix II includes species that are not necessarily endangered, but whose trade must be controlled in order to avoid a use that is incompatible with their survival.

For the samples: an export permit or re-export certificate issued by the managing authority of the exporting or re-exporting state is required.

The same rules and restrictions as appendix 1 apply with the exception that it no import permit is necessary if not required by mational laws. I can tell you an open secret: a State will rarely ask for an import permit for a sample of a species listed in CITES.

Appendix III contains species that protected in at least one country, that has asked for assistance from other parties of  CITES to control trade.

Each member state has the right to make unilateral changes to Appendix III. To see the changes made by each single member state.

For the SAMPLES: everything as above (Appendix I and II)


When the government of a State decides that it will be bound by the orders of the CITES, it can “adhere” to the Convention sending a formal written declaration to the depositing state, Switzerland, through diplomatic channels.

On the depositing government receives the request the Convention comes into force for the interested state 90 days later.

It’s like the plot of the next “007 mission CITES”.

Wouldn’t a simple certified email with the request be easier and more modern seeing as we are in 2018?

Let’s not digress too much we are talking seriously here.

A state or regional economic support organization for which the convention has come into force is named part of CITES. Currently there are 183 member states.

Here you will find the list of the states that have adhered to the convention.

A state or regional economic support organisation that is part of CITES can pull out of the convention at any time through a notification process.

It has only happened once in the history of the conevention with Arab Emirates that had adhered to the Convention on 21 November 1974 but pulled out on 27 January 1988 to then become a member again on 9 May 1990.

To summarize: the United Arab Emirates are part of CITES.

The planet is evolving constantly and so CITES experiences continuous changes by member states. Here you will find the global list of all experts in animal species who you can ask for particular information on CITES.

Bon voyage!


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