Government publishes ‘No deal’ EU exit advice on travel changes for protected animals and plants

A guitar with a rosewood neck

Rosewood is often used in musical instruments

The government has issued advice to help minimise disruption in the trade of protected animals and plants in the event of a ‘no deal’ EU exit.

In this scenario, protected animals and plants would need a permit to be transported between the UK and the EU and would only be able to travel through designated ports.

To make sure there is enough capacity within the system, the government has increased the number of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) points of entry and exit for goods. Currently there are just 10 ports and airports for CITES trade with countries outside the EU. Read the full list of designated ports that will be available in a no deal scenario.

Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the government’s top priority. This has not changed. However, the government must prepare for every eventuality, including a ‘no deal’ exit.


CITES is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, musical instruments or dried herbs.

All CITES species bar those with the highest level of protection can be traded and transported freely within the EU. The UK will continue to be a member of CITES after we leave the EU, even in the event of no deal.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, all CITES species that are currently freely moved and traded between the UK and the EU would require a CITES permit or import/export notification. This would mean movement of all species controlled under CITES between the UK and the EU would need to follow the same processes as those currently in place for movement between the UK and non-EU countries.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

The CITES convention plays a key role in protecting endangered species and we will continue to uphold it after we leave the EU, as part of our pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than that in which we found it.

This government has been absolutely clear on our commitment to deliver the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU. But the government is preparing for any eventuality.

That’s why we are taking the responsible step of ensuring people and businesses understand the potential impacts of no deal – such as the transport of protected goods and animals between the UK and the EU – to help minimise any potential disruption.

Businesses or individuals trading in or moving CITES-listed species outside the UK would need to check the specific requirements with the intended import or export country on the Global CITES website, and either apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency for a CITES permit or request and complete an import notification form.

Designated ports and airports

In addition, CITES animals and plants would only be able to travel or be transported through certain designated ports, meaning individuals and businesses may be more restricted in the transport routes they can use.

Busy routes (for example Eurotunnel, Dover and Holyhead) are not currently proposed for designation. This is to avoid potential delays at these ports as they experience large volumes of traffic passing through. Businesses or individuals who regularly use these routes may need to make alternative arrangements as there will be no facilities at these ports for CITES permits to be stamped.

If we were to leave the EU without a deal, the designation of CITES ports would be reviewed as we gather more data post March 2019 on the actual levels of CITES trade between the UK and the EU.


  • We have also published updated guidance which sets out how people who trade in, or travel with, endangered animals or plants, or their products, would be affected if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal.

  • We have increased the number of CITES points of entry and exit for CITES goods, as they are currently limited to just 10 ports and airports for CITES trade with countries outside the EU. Read the full list of designated ports that will be available in a no deal scenario .

  • All CITES-listed species are contained within Annexes A to D of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. The Species+ database includes details of all CITES-listed species.

  • Details of how to obtain a CITES permit in the UK are available on GOV.UK, as are current details of fees for CITES permits and designated CITES points of entry.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.