CITES Permit system

The CITES permit system is the backbone of the regulation of trade in specimens of species, included in the three Appendices of the Convention. Such trade should normally be accompanied by a CITES permit or certificate. The document is the confirmation by the issuing authority that the conditions for authorizing the trade are fulfilled; this means that the trade is legal, sustainable and traceable in accordance with Art. III, IV and V of the Convention. The national CITES Management Authority or Authorities of each Party are the issuing authorities of CITES permits upon advice from the national CITES Scientific Authority. Parties have agreed on a standard format for CITES permits and certificates and on key recommendations regarding the CITES permit system, contained in Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP18). See more about how CITES works here.

Provisions of the Convention

Articles III, IV, V and VI



Permit queries

Any specific questions related to trade in specimens of CITES-listed species should be addressed to the national CITES Management Authorities of the exporting or the importing country; see the webpage on the national CITES Authorities for the contact information. The CITES Secretariat will generally refer any specific queries to the authorities as solely responsible for the implementation of the Convention. Any general questions related to the interpretation of the Convention can be addressed to the CITES Secretariat.

Types of permits and certificates used under normal procedures

A summary of all CITES permits and certificates (including those used under exemptions and special provisions) can be found here

Simplified procedures

Parties may use simplified procedures to issue permits and certificates to facilitate and expedite trade that will have a negligible impact, or none, on the conservation of the species concerned, for instance:

  • where biological samples are urgently required;
  • for the issuance of pre-Convention certificates in accordance with Article VII, paragraph 2;
  • for the issuance of certificates of captive breeding or artificial propagation in accordance with Article VII, paragraph 5, or for the issuance of export permits or re-export certificates in accordance with Article IV for specimens referred to in Article VII, paragraph 4; and
  • in other cases where a Management Authority considers the use of simplified procedures merited;

The recommendations on the use of simplified procedures are contained in section XIII and Annex 4 of Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP18).


Under CITES, Parties are working to develop and implement electronic permit (eCITES) aimed to improve the implementation of the convention by using modern information and communication technologies. The CITES Secretariat and UNCTAD are assisting Parties in these efforts. See more on the dedicated webpage.