National laws for implementing the Convention

National laws for implementing CITES is critical to ensure that trade in protected species is legal, sustainable and traceable. Legislation empowers government officials to act, regulates human behaviour and articulates policy in relation to conservation of and international trade in wildlife. 

Although CITES is legally binding on States it is generally not self-executing. This means that it cannot be fully implemented until specific domestic measures have been adopted for that purpose. It is therefore essential that CITES Parties have legislation in place allowing them to implement and enforce all aspects of the Convention.

Only through adequate legislation which is permanently up to date and efficiently enforced, both at the borders and within countries, can CITES really work. Adequate national legislation is key to effective wildlife trade controls by the State agencies charged with implementing and enforcing the Convention. It is also a vital prerequisite for ensuring that a State Party complies with the provisions of the Convention. 

National Legislation Project

The National Legislation Project (NLP) is the Convention’s primary mechanism for encouraging and assisting Parties’ legislative efforts. National legislation is to meet the CITES minimum requirements to national legislation as expressed in Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP15).

Parties' national legislation for the implementation of the Convention should provide them with the authority to
i. designate at least one Management Authority and one Scientific Authority
ii. prohibit trade in specimens in violation of the Convention;
iii. penalize such trade: and 
iv. confiscate specimens illegally traded or possessed. 

The legislation is placed in one of three categories. 

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Legislative status

Select to view Parties with legislation in:


To search by Party, please go to the Country Profiles.

Legislative guidance materials

It is the prerogative of each Party to decide how it incorporates CITES obligations into national legislation, taking into account its needs and legal practice. The provisions of the Convention and Resolution Conf. 8.4 (Rev. CoP15) only provide a broad framework, 

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List of materials

Targeted support to Parties

Pursuant to CITES resolutions and decisions, the CITES Secretariat provides assistance to priority countries and territories, upon their request, to enhance their legislation. This includes the provision of targeted legal advice on the basic legislative requirements, compilation of examples of best legislation, drafting support and organization of training workshops. 

Since CoP17, the CITES Secretariat has provided individualized technical assistance to a number of Parties, including Angola, Benin, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Lao PDR, Mauritania, Niger and Saint Lucia. Detailed requests for assistance from Parties with legislation in Category 2 or 3 can be addressed to the CITES Secretariat.

Other guidance and support

CITES Virtual College features training materials on specific aspects of the Conventions, such as  role and tasks of Management Authorities and Scientific Authorities, important CITES definitions, permits and certificates, exemptions and special procedures etc.