What is eCITES?
Electronic CITES includes electronic application and issuance of CITES permits, control and authentication of CITES permits, reporting as well as electronic exchange of permits (permit information) between the Parties.
The objective of electronic CITES or eCITES is to improve the implementation of the Convention by using modern Information and Communication Technologies to simplify compliant trade and to combat illegal trade. It is important to note that digitalization of procedures and electronic information exchange is not an objective in itself, but rather a tool to simplify and improve the work of Management Authorities and other agencies to implement the Convention.
Why is it needed?
The electronic permits together with simpler and automated trade procedures help government agencies to better target their inspections and identify those actors that break the law. Implementation of eCITES facilitates collaboration and electronic information exchange with Customs and other border control agencies for efficient control of CITES trade. Parties will benefit from increased transparency, prevention of fraudulent permits, faster and more robust reporting and better data to decide on non-detriment findings. Finally, simplified and automated procedures could create new business opportunities for compliant traders and rural communities.
Resolutions and Decisions
- Res Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP19) on Permits and certificates
- Res Conf. 11.3 (Rev. CoP19) on Compliance and enforcement
- Res Conf. 11.17 (Rev. CoP19) on National reports
- Dec. 19.150-19.152 on Electronic Systems and Information Technology
- Dec. 19.153-19.155 on Risk assessment and analysis for border control
New CITES Electronic Permitting Toolkit (V 3.0) is now available in English, French and Spanish.
UNCTAD eCITES BaseSolution Website
eCITES EPIX Task Force - Meeting on 9 May 2023, Geneva (Hybrid)
Brief Survey on eCITES Systems for the Parties. See Notification to participate.
Tools and resources
- The eCITES Implementation Framework English
- The CITES ePermitting Toolkit English v3 | French v3 | Spanish v3
- Guidelines and specifications for Electronic Permit Information eXchange (EPIX) of CITES permits and certificates English | French | Spanish
- Guidance on Electronic Signatures on CITES Permits and certificates English
- Policy Brief on eCITES English
- Briefing on UNCTAD eCITES Base Solution English
National eCITES: current status
The designations employed and the presentation of the material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the CITES Secretariat, UNEP or the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
**Last updated on 16.06.2021. Based on oral communication by the CITES Secretariat; please contact [email protected] for any corrections/updates.**
Overview of eCITES governance, tools and implementation support
Governance: The Convention, through the Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the Conference of Parties based on the recommendations of the Working Group on electronic Systems and Information Technology provides standards for eCITES implementation and ensures that Parties can take advantage of modern eBusiness approaches to implement the Convention.
Tools: The Working Group and the Secretariat publish standards and tools that support parties in the implementation and foster compatibility and information exchange of eCITES systems.
Implementation support: The secretariat provides advisory services and capacity building to Parties. It works with a technology provider to provide Parties with low cost and off the shelf solutions such as the UNCTAD eCITES system. It also supports the implementation of eCITES in partnership with other international or regional organizations.
The CITES Intersessional Working Group on Electronic Systems and Information Technology (SC76 to SC78)
The At its 76th meeting, the Standing Committee re-established the intersessional working group on electronic systems and information technologies. (25 November 2022, Panama City, Panama). The Working Group is Chaired by Mathias Loertscher, Head, CITES MA Switzerland. with Switzerland as the Chair.
The members of the Working Group are:
Armenia, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, European Union, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland (Chair), Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Zimbabwe; World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-WCMC); Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Chambre Syndicale de la Facture Instrumentale (CSFI), Confederation of the European Music Industries (CAFIM), ForestBased Solutions Llc, Forest Trends, International Federation of Musicians, International Fur Federation (IFF), IWMC-World Conservation Trust, League of American Orchestras, Parrot Breeders Association of Southern Africa (PASA), Pearle, Professional Hunters Association South Africa (PHASA), South African Taxidermy and Tannery Association, Taylor Guitars, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA).
CITES Electronic Permit Information eXchange (EPIX) Task Force
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) established an EPIX Task Force to provide a forum where Parties could continue to share experiences and information related to the piloting and testing of electronic CITES permit information exchange and to network with other interested Parties. The Task Force convened by UNECE is chaired by the Chair of the working group on electronic systems and information technologies.
eCITES Implementation Framework
The eCITES Implementation Framework provides national project managers with a best practice approach to plan and manage the automation of their CITES processes. A standard implementation approach using a tested framework greatly reduces eCITES project’s risks and costs and achieves improved results and synergies at the regional and global level. The Framework was developed by experienced project managers taking into account lessons learned from similar eGovernment projects around the world.
The eCITES Implementation Framework implements four pillars:
- Automation of the CITES permit issuance process in the Management Authorities, including electronic application of CITES permits; transparent and automated controls during inspection, approval and issuance of all permits; electronic payment of fees and electronic repository of all valid permits.
- Electronic information exchange of CITES permits with customs authorities, automated risk assessment and targeted inspections for export, import and transit and coordinated border controls.
- Automated generation of reports and statistics to monitor legality and sustainability of trade, including CITES annual trade reports.
- Electronic exchange of CITES permit information between Government authorities of export, import and transit countries to prevent use of forged documents and establish end-to-end control of trade.
Each pillar of the Framework is a sub-project with defined outcomes and benefits. Parties can implement eCITES pillars in a stepwise approach and according to its own readiness.
The CITES ePermitting Toolkit was developed by CITES Secretariat and the Working Group to support Parties in the implementation of electronic Permitting systems. The first version was presented on the CoP 15 (Doha 2010). The Annex of the CITES electronic toolkit was updated in 2013 to include new electronic permitting standards and norms developed by UN/CEFACT and WCO. The third version was updated with the UN/CEFACT Reference Data Models (D22A) and the WCO Data Model (3.11). This version provides updated implementation guidance for the existing communication technology - XML and reflections on new communication technologies such as JSON schemas to assist countries to regulate and facilitate legal, sustainable and traceable trade in CITES-listed species more effectively.
The third version divides the Toolkit into two main parts – A Business View and a Developer View. The Business View includes a general description of the CITES trade processes, a strategy for moving from a paper-based system to a paperless system, integration with Single Windows and CITES Species+ Application Program Interface (API). The Developer View is primarily for the developers. It discusses about the technical aspects of implementing an eCITES system including interoperability, document security, digital signatures, web services and API. The section 5 (Annex) is the normative part of the Toolkit. It includes e-CITES permit data models based on UN/CEFACT Core Component Library (CCL) and WCO message specifications as well as a mapping of ePermit messages based on UN/CEFACT and WCO data models.
The Schema for the electronic CITES permit (version 3.0) can be downloaded here.
The CITES Secretariat is ready to provide advisory services and support for implementation of eCITES, subject to availability of funding. It works with various partners to promote and expand the use of digital solutions for advancing eCITES. For information and support, please write to [email protected].
ASYCUDA eCITES system: Cloud based electronic permitting by UNCTAD
The ASYCUDA eCITES system (previously referred to as “aCITES”) is an off-the-shelf software solution for electronic permit management and exchange. The system is jointly developed by the Secretariat and the UNCTAD ASYCUDA programme and implements the three main pillars of the eCITES Implementation Framework. Its development is governed by a joint MoU between the Secretariat and UNCTAD.
The ASYCUDA eCITES system can be implemented and maintained by a Management Authority as a stand-alone system or, if the national administration uses the ASYCUDA customs system, as a component of this Customs system.
To provide access to electronic Permit solutions for many of the 193 Parties that have low permit volumes, the Secretariat and UNCTAD have now developed the eCITES BaseSolution, a cloud-based release of the ASYCUDA eCITES system which provides electronic permit processing functionality to Parties while the technical infrastructure of the server is maintained by UNCTAD experts. The system is virtually maintenance free for the Management Authorities and does not require advanced technical expertise or IT systems.
Parties can implement the ASYCUDA eCITES in the framework of a technical cooperation project with UNCTAD.
List of resources relating to eCITES
Synopsis with regard to eCITES domain
|CoP19 Side Event||
Implementation of e-permits: lessons learned and advancing towards an integrated digital solution for eCITES. Presentations now online
CoP18 side-event documents
|SC74 Doc. 41||
Standing Committee document that recommends amendments in Resolution Conf. 12.3 (Rev. CoP18) on Permits and Certificates contained and the draft decisions on Electronic Systems and Information Technologies for the consideration of CoP19.
|SC74 Doc. 42||
Standing Committee document that recommends amendments in Resolution Conf. 11.3 (Rev. CoP18) on Compliance and Enforcement and reports on the study related to permit authentication and control.
|SC70 Inf. 7||Standing Committee document that provides a summary and recommendations of the workshop on customs control of trade in CITES-listed species: Trends, technologies and opportunities for improved trade and regulatory control (23-25 May 2018, University of Gibraltar)|
|SC70 Inf. 8||Standing Committee document that informs about a guidance on EPIX onboarding: Simplifying the implementation of electronic permit information exchanges between Parties.|
|SC70 Inf.9||Standing Committee document that provides an initial draft of the guidance on the Development of Electronic Permit Information Exchange (EPIX) for CITES.|
|SC69 Inf.1||Standing Committee document that shares the result of a survey on electronic systems and information technologies for CITES management (eCITES) (submitted by the Secretariat) and additional information provided by Parties.|
|SC69 Doc.40||Standing Committee document that provides a report from the Secretariat on the activities related to Electronic Systems and Information Technology.|
Guidelines for the preparation and submission of CITES annual reports
Describes structure, data elements, codes and the format of annual reports. As the information in an annual report is a subset of the data contained in the CITES permits this document also provides further specifications for data to be used in CITES permits.
Web portal to validate a CITES XML permit against the specification of the ePermitting toolkit. The portal will return a technical compliance assessment.