Trading CITES-listed specimens through UK ports and airports
Last updated 5 March 2021
The UK implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
You need to import (bring in) or export (take out) CITES specimens through the designated land, sea and air ports.
CITES-designated points of entry and exit
The customs offices at the following points of entry and exit are designated for CITES trade.
You can use these airports:
- Belfast International
- Birmingham International
- Bristol International
- Cardiff International
- East Midlands
- Glasgow International
- Glasgow Prestwick
- London Heathrow
- London Luton
- London Stansted
- Southampton International
You can use these ports:
- Belfast Seaport
- Harwich international
- Liverpool Seaforth Container Terminal
- London Gateway (Port of London)
- Portsmouth International Port
- Southampton ABP
- Tilbury (Port of London)
Gibraltar is not included as a UK-designated port for CITES trade.
Postal hubs have been designated at:
- Coventry International Parcel Post Hub
- Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre (HWDC)
Postal hubs cannot be used by the public. They are used by Royal Mail, postal courier services and Border Force to check CITES parcels.
Read how to import or export endangered species.
CITES specimens entering Great Britain from the EU or Northern Ireland (NI)
You must use CITES-designated points of entry and exit to move CITES specimens between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and the EU.
When you move CITES specimens from GB to NI, or NI to GB, the import and export checks will all happen in NI. This means you can use any point of exit from GB, but you must use a CITES-designated point of entry and exit in NI.
Additional port arrangements for CITES specimens
There are additional arrangements if you’re using roll on roll off (RoRo) services or Eurotunnel.
Using roll on roll off (RoRo) services
You’re able to use RoRo services, for example car ferries, at the following ports:
You need to stop and present your CITES documents to a customs official for endorsement.
Importing and exporting CITES specimens through Eurotunnel
To import CITES specimens into Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) through Eurotunnel you must present your CITES documents for endorsement.
If you’re exporting specimens from GB through Eurotunnel you must present your CITES documents to Border Force at a suitable designated point of entry and exit before you travel through Eurotunnel.
CITES species coming into the UK from outside the EU
For all CITES species that enter the UK from outside the EU (rest of world), different animal and plant health conditions apply.
You must check the guidance and use the correct point of entry and exit if you’re importing live animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin.
Read the guidance about border control posts (BCP) for animals and animal products.
Moving products of animal origin (POAO)
Before you import products of animal origin (POAO), you should check that the port or airport has the approvals and facilities to handle:
- products for human consumption
- products not for human consumption
- chilled or frozen goods
Moving food not of animal origin (FNAO)
Moving controlled plants or plant products or forestry materials (FM)
Moving to approved inland facilities
You may also import controlled plants and plant specimens or regulated forestry material through any CITES-designated ports if they are going to approved inland facilities.
Use the guidance to understand the rules and documents needed:
- Importing plants, fruit, vegetables or plant material to the UK
- Import wood, wood products or bark from non-EU countries
Moving live animals and animal products
Live CITES animals and animal products can move through any CITES designated point of entry or exit.
If your live CITES animals or animal products are subject to welfare or sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls and need extra documents or checks you must use a point of entry or exit with a border control post (BCP) that can carry out SPS checks on your species. This includes movements of live animals or animal products from GB to NI.
You can only use Belfast port to move live CITES animals from GB to NI.
Check the Border Operating Model for live animals and animal products subject to SPS controls.
The following CITES points of entry or exit have BCPs designated to handle live animals and carry out both CITES and SPS checks.
|Airport||Live CITES animals|
|Edinburgh||Dogs, cats, ferrets, lagomorphs, rodents, amphibians, reptiles and fish, molluscs and crustaceans|
|Gatwick||Reptiles, amphibians, fish, molluscs, crustaceans, birds and all mammals except ungulates and equines|
|Glasgow Prestwick||Ungulates and equines only|
|Manchester||Fish, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians|
|Stansted||Ungulates and equines only|
CITES specimens transiting through GB
You need CITES documents from each country if your specimen passes through GB when moving between EU countries.
For example, to move a CITES specimen from France to the Republic of Ireland (RoI) through GB, you would need an:
- export permit from France
- import and re-export permit from the UK management authority
- import permit from RoI
You must use a CITES designated point of entry and exit in the UK, and present your documents to the UK Border Force.
If your specimen passes through GB when moving between a non-EU country (third country) and an EU country, you may be able to get a transit exemption so you do not need to get UK CITES documents. Contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol to check if you can get an exemption.
You can contact APHA Centre for International Trade: Bristol for advice if your CITES specimen will transit through GB.
Moving CITES specimens through Humberside airport
If you’re transporting CITES specimens through Humberside airport you must tell Border Force at least 24 hours before you’re due to arrive. Contact Border Force by:
Telephone: +44 (0)300 106 5302
Moving CITES specimens through Belfast Seaport
If you’re transporting live animals you must tell Border Force Belfast at least 24 hours before you’re due to arrive.
Belfast Seaport address:
5 Westbank Drive
Telephone: +44 (0)3000 738 256
The office opening hours are Monday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm. You must enter the Border Force Belfast processing area no later than 3:30pm.
You need to make an appointment. If you call during office hours you’ll usually be seen within the hour.
Moving CITES specimens through the Port of Dover
If you’re moving CITES specimens through Dover port you’ll need to present your CITES documentation to Border Force for endorsement at Dover Western Docks.
Dover Western Docks address:
Freight Clearance Centre
Lord Warden Square
Signs at the port will direct you to the Freight Clearance Centre.
Moving CITES specimens through Eurotunnel
Importing through Eurotunnel
To import CITES specimens into the UK through Eurotunnel you must present your CITES documents at Waterbrook for endorsement by Border Force.
Ashford, Waterbrook inland border facility
Exporting through Eurotunnel
To export CITES specimens from the UK through Eurotunnel you can present your CITES documents to Border Force at Ebbsfleet or at another suitable designated point of entry and exit sea port before you travel through Eurotunnel.
Ebbsfleet Carpark D
Contact Border Force
The Border Force office has a 24 hour service, Monday to Sunday.
Telephone: +44 (0)3000 515 829
You can contact APHA for support with trading or moving endangered animals or plants listed under CITES.