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Q1 What is CITES?

In order to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was first signed in 1973 and entered into force in 1975 to regulate the import and export of endangered species through a permit system. As of April 2018, it has over 180 Parties.  

The endangered species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.

Q2 What are the controls on endangered species in Hong Kong ?

In Hong Kong , the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, Cap. 586, is the local legislation that gives effect to CITES. Under the Ordinance, import, introduction from the sea, export, re-export or possession of endangered species, whether alive, dead, parts or derivatives, requires a licence which must be obtained in advance from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). The Ordinance also provides exemptions for certain specimens of species.

Q3 How could I make an enquiry about the control on a certain species of animal or plant?

To find out whether an animal or plant is a scheduled species, you can check the Schedules to the Ordinance. For the regulation status of species listed in CITES Appendices, you may check on CITES or Species+. To make an enquiry, you can contact the Department. You should provide information such as scientific name of the species concerned, country of origin or a photo so as to facilitate the checking.

Q4 How to apply for a licence?

Application for licences to import, introduce from the sea, export, re-export or possess endangered species should be made in a specified form, supported by documents such as copies of CITES export permit, import licence, possession licence and invoice to this Department. Normally 2 working days are required for processing an application for licences (5 working days for import of live animals). A prescribed fee is charged for the issue of licence. However, the issue of a licence is by no means automatic. Import or export shipments, or taking possession of specimens, should only be arranged after the relevant licences have been issued.  

A specimen may also be subject to the control of other legislations. A licence issued under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance does not in any way exempt the licencee from the provisions of other legislations.

Q5 Do I need a licence for import or export of endangered species between Hong Kong SAR and mainland China?

Trade in endangered species between Hong Kong SAR and mainland is also under control. For import from mainland , a Chinese CITES export permit issued by the CITES Management Authority of China is required. A licence issued by AFCD is also required for some specimens. For export or re-export to mainland, a licence is required. For details of the requirements, you may contact the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office.

Q6 Will an Export Licence be issued for export of non-CITES species?

No licence is required for the re-export of non-CITES species. However, AFCD may on application issue a Re-export Certificate to facilitate customs clearance of consignments of non-CITES species at the importing country. You should submit a completed application form (AF245) and supporting documents issued by a competent authority of the exporting country, such as certificate of origin, health certificate or phytosanitary certificate. The fee for a Re-export Certificate is $260 and its validity is 6 months.

Q7 Do I need a licence if my specimens are in transit through Hong Kong?

Shipments of scheduled species in transit are also subject to the control of the Ordinance. Any scheduled species in transit must be accompanied by a CITES permit issued by a CITES Management Authority of the exporting place. During its stay in Hong Kong , the specimen concerned must be under the control of an authorized officer.  

For live animals, the Ordinance also requires that AFCD should be notified of details of the shipment at least three working days the date of the expected arrival of the live animals.



For shipments by air, contact Import and Export Division at airport:
Tel: 2116 0175
Fax: 2116 0176

For shipments through border, contact Import and Export Division at Man Kam To:
Tel: 2673 4443
Fax: 2652 5298

For shipments through other means of transportation, contact Endangered Species Protection Division:
Tel: 2150 6986
Fax: 2377 4413
Q8 Do I need to make a booking to visit the Endangered Species Resource Centre?

Admission to the Endangered Specie Resource Centre is free. Please click here to check the opening hours.   

To book a guided tour, interested parties should contact AFCD staff at 2150 6974 / 2150 6979 to check whether the proposed date of visit is available or not, and then submit a completed application form. The application form for a guided tour can be downloaded from this website or obtained by fax via telephone number 1823.

Q9 What can I do if I suspect someone is importing, exporting or selling endangered species illegally?

Please report to the Endangered Species Protection Division of this Department. You can call the report hotline 2150 6978 ( unanswered calls will be diverted to the recording system ) , fax no. 2736 1501, e-mail: espint@afcd.gov.hk or use the Endangered Species Information Envelope.