What is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ?

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement to protect endangered or protected species of wild fauna and flora by implementing border controls to prevent illegal or fraudulent trade.

Its objective is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants is sustainable and does not endanger their existence.

Accordingly, trade in endangered species is prohibited, while trade in threatened or endangered species is restricted.

The CITES Convention entered into force in 1975 and is currently ratified by 183 countries. Spain, on the other hand, did not ratify the Convention until 1986.

At the global level, the CITES Convention Secretariat is managed by the United Nations Environment Program and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The CITES Convention seeks to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is sustainable and does not endanger their existence.

In Spain, the CITES Management Authority is the Directorate General for Trade Policy and Competitiveness.

Accordingly, this Directorate General is the management body for the processing and approval of applications for import, export or (re)export of CITES-listed species of flora and fauna.

In addition, Spain has its own CITES Management Authority, which is represented by the Customs and Excise Department of the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT).


What species are regulated in international trade?

La Convención CITES protege unas 5.800 especies animales y 30.000 especies vegetales sobreexplotadas por el comercio internacional.

La Convención CITES clasifica las especies de fauna y flora según el grado de peligro que corren. Esta clasificación abarca lo siguiente:

  • Species in danger of extinction, whose trade is permitted only in rare circumstances.
  • Species that are not necessarily endangered, but whose trade must be regulated to ensure their continued existence.
    Species that are protected in at least one country and have requested that CITES Parties regulate their trade.
  • Aunque la Convención CITES protege especies muy conocidas como los osos, las tortugas marinas y las ballenas, también protege animales y plantas menos conocidos como las orquídeas, los cactus, los corales, los loros, los mejillones y las ranas.

In addition, protection extends to animals and plants, dead or alive, as well as their parts, derivatives and goods containing them; i.e., skins, ivory, shells, musical instruments, seeds and extracts for fragrances are protected.

It should also be noted that any wild animal or plant can be added to the list of species protected under the CITES Convention.


Who and where are the cities controls performed?

Before importing or exporting any species protected by the CITES Convention, an application must be submitted to the SOIVRE Inspection Services of the Spanish Territorial Trade Directorates, which are part of the Secretary of State for Trade.

The SOIVRE Inspection Services are responsible for CITES regulations, while the Border Inspection Posts are responsible for customs clearance.

The Inspection Services of SOIVRE provide CITES documentation. However, import and (re-)export activities of CITES species must be processed through Customs at designated ports of entry and exit for CITES products, known as Border Inspection Posts (BIPs).


Which are the permits and cities certificates?

To regulate international trade in wildlife species and their products, as well as endangered or protected creatures in their countries of origin, the CITES Convention requires the use of a series of permits and certificates.

Before exchanging specimens, it is essential to acquire an export authorization in the country of origin and an import authorization in the country of destination.

Similarly, certificates must be obtained for some species protected by the CITES Convention.

The purpose of this documentary control is to ensure legal, sustainable, and traceable international trade in wild animals and plants.

In fact, it is this system of permits and certificates that allows the complete documentation of each CITES commodity and the knowledge of its origin, destination, and purpose of trade.

The Import Permit, Export Permit and Re-export Certificate are the main CITES documents.


Thus, depending on whether an import or exportación takes place, the following papers are required:

  • CITES Import Permit: this is required for the import into the European Union of CITES-listed species (Regulation (EC) 338/97).
  • Permit required prior to import: before granting a (re)export permit/certificate, the exporting or (re)exporting country requires it.
  • Export permit and re-export certificate: Specimens of species listed in Regulation (EC) 338/97 must be exported or re-exported from the EU.
  • EU CITES certificate: Commercial operations (purchase, acquisition and public display) within the EU are required.


Other documents are available:

  • Certificate of private ownership: for traveling with pets.
  • Travelling exhibition certificate: for shows, exhibitions or circuses.
  • Musical instrument certificate: for non-commercial movement of musical instruments across international borders.
  • Sample collection certificate: for other more specific situations (e.g. for samples at exhibitions and fairs).

Additional Customs Formalities

It is important to remember that prior to customs clearance in Spain, an inspection must be requested from Customs through the Document of Inspection of Species Subject to Control (DIESAC).

This certificate, provided by SOIVRE Inspection Services, confirms to Customs and other authorities that the items being imported or re-exported include or may contain specimens of CITES-listed species.

To clear CITES goods, Spanish Customs requires the presentation of the Controlled Species Inspection Document (DIESAC) or the Protected Species Inspection Document (DIEP).

Likewise, if it is an import shipment, Customs must receive both the import permit and the original foreign CITES document (export permit or re-export certificate from the nation of origin).

On the other hand, Customs may also require us to provide the Protected Species Inspection Document (DIEP), which is also issued by SOIVRE Inspection Services.


Are you looking for cities processing assistance?

As you can see, the trade of CITES-listed flora and fauna species is complicated.

At Connecta, we have a thorough understanding of all the documentation requirements and customs procedures associated with these types of goods and products.

We can help you, whether you are a company or an individual, as we are expert customs brokers.

Our experts can request inspections at SOIVRE and submit the required documentation to customs to ensure that the CITES goods you are importing or exporting are not delayed.

At Connecta, we guide you to ensure the success of your CITES operations and avoid unnecessary costs and relocations.


Connecta has two channels of communication and document transmission:


– By email to: info@miconnecta.com

– You can also use our form to Connect with us.

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