CITES species

Campbell Island Teal (Anas aucklandica nesiotis, App I). Photo: Tui De Roy.
Campbell Island Teal (Anas
aucklandica nesiotis, App I)

Approximately 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants are protected by CITES regulations.

The CITES Secretariat has a species database that holds information about all CITES species.

These species are also listed in the Schedules to the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989.

General

What is CITES?

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES regulates and monitors imports and exports of endangered species to ensure that their long-term survival in the wild is not threatened.

What is Pre-Convention status? How do I know if my item is Pre-Convention?

An item qualifies for Pre-Convention status if you can prove it is older than when the species was added to CITES. For example, the African elephant was added in 1976, so ivory or other elephant products older than that qualify for Pre-Convention status. You will still need a permit for Pre-Convention items, but the permitting requirements can be less strict.

I suspect my item is Pre-Convention, but how can I prove it?

In order to qualify for Pre-Convention status, DOC needs to see evidence of the age of the item. Evidence can be authentication from an antiques dealer, old family wills and documents, or a signed affidavit. The evidence needs to be submitted with the permit application.

I’m filling in my permit application form. How can I find out what the Latin name is for the species?

An easy way is to look online through a search engine. Another way is to check the species database on the CITES website. Otherwise, contact your nearest DOC CITES officer to help you.

Butterflies

I see lots of framed butterflies for sale overseas. Can I bring one back to New Zealand?

Some butterflies (i.e. some birdwing and swallowtail species) are covered by CITES, and therefore require an export permit from the country of origin. Please contact your nearest DOC CITES officer to find out if the species is covered by CITES.

Cactus - Rainsticks

I bought a rainstick when overseas. Can I bring it back into New Zealand?

If the country of origin has a personal effects exemption, you can bring up to three rainsticks into New Zealand without a CITES export permit. Larger amounts require a permit.

Caviar

Can I bring caviar into New Zealand? How much can I bring?

If the country of origin has a personal effects exemption, you are allowed to bring up to 125g of caviar into New Zealand without a CITES export permit. Larger amounts require a permit.

Clam - Meat and shells

Can I bring clam shells and meat into New Zealand?

Shells: If the country of origin has a personal effects exemption, you can bring up to three items without a permit. Each item can consist of one intact shell or two matching halves, not exceeding 3 kg per person. If you have more than three items, you need a permit.

Meat: Yes, but only with an original CITES export permit issued by the CITES Management Authority in the country of export (e.g. Fiji, Cook Islands). You may be told that you do not need a permit, but without one, the items will be seized.

Coral

I am going on holiday to the Islands. Can I bring some coral back with me?

You are allowed to bring into New Zealand fragments or broken finger-like dead coral less than 30mm (measured in any direction) without a CITES permit. For any coral pieces bigger than that, and for live coral, you need a permit. You also need a permit for any black coral items.

Coral and CITES factsheet (PDF, 287K)

Crocodilians

I bought a crocodile souvenir overseas. Can I bring it back to New Zealand?

If the country of origin has a personal effects exemption, you are allowed to import up to four crocodilian items into New Zealand without a permit. If you have more then four items, you need a permit from the authorities in the country of origin.

Cycads

I would like to import some cycad seeds. How can I do that?

It depends on the species that you want to import. Generally, the import or export of seeds of CITES Appendix-II cycads do not require CITES permits. Seeds of Appendix-I cycads require both import permits and export permits. It is best to contact your nearest DOC CITES officer to ensure you have the right documentation.

Feathers

I have some eagle feathers that I would like to bring back to New Zealand. How can I do that?

All birds of prey – including eagles – are protected under CITES. Therefore, regardless of cultural importance, permits are still necessary. Without these permits the items will be confiscated. You may also want to check with the authorities in the country of origin for any other regulations that may exist.

Ginseng

Can I bring ginseng into New Zealand?

There are two types of ginseng – American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Red or Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng). In general, ginseng in the form of teas, extracts, pills, etc. can be imported into New Zealand without a permit. Ginseng in the form of roots (whole roots, sliced roots, parts of roots) may need a permit.

Ginseng and CITES factsheet (PDF, 356K)

Hoodia

I saw some Hoodia online and would like to order it? Can I do that?

You can order Hoodia online to be shipped to New Zealand, but it must be accompanied by a valid CITES export permit issued by the country where the Hoodia is ordered (in many cases, the US). DOC has been informed that some companies claim to have valid permits, but do not send proper documents, and the Hoodia has been confiscated. Please look carefully into the company before ordering Hoodia online.

I ordered some Hoodia online, but instead received a “Notice of Seizure” form. What happened?

Your shipment of Hoodia was seized at the border because it did not comply with CITES regulations. It may not have had the proper CITES export permit, or there may have been problems with the permit. Some Hoodia is sent with fake “certificates of authenticity”, which are not CITES permits.

Household move

I am migrating to New Zealand and have some CITES-listed items with me. What permits do I need?

The permits you need depend on the actual items and the country from which you are moving. While New Zealand allows some CITES specimens in without a permit, the country of origin may not allow them out of the country without a permit. To ensure you get the correct permits, please contact a DOC CITES officer before bringing the items into New Zealand.

I am moving away from New Zealand and have some CITES-listed items with me. What permits do I need?

The permits you need depend on the country you are moving to. Some countries allow CITES species to be part of a household move without a permit, others require a permit. To ensure you get the correct permits, please contact your nearest DOC CITES officer for more information.

Hunting trophies

I have been overseas and brought back a hunting trophy. What permits do I need?

The permits you need depend on the species that you have hunted, and the country you have hunted in. To ensure you get the correct permits check out documentation for hunting trophies.

Insects and spiders

I bought a framed scorpion/tarantula/beetle while I was on holiday. Can I bring it into New Zealand?

Some scorpions, tarantulas and beetles are covered by CITES, and therefore require an export permit from the country of origin. Please contact your nearest DOC CITES officer to find out if the species you have is covered by CITES.

Ivory

I inherited some antique ivory. It is overseas now, but I would like to get it sent to me in New Zealand. How can I do that?

You will need to apply for an export permit from the overseas CITES office. Contact information for these offices is on the CITES website. You will also need proof that it is antique. This can be through authentication by an antiques dealer, by showing old family documents, or by a signed affidavit. Talk to the local CITES officer for more information.

I am leaving New Zealand and have some antique ivory. How can I take it out of the country?

To take ivory out of New Zealand, you will need a CITES re-export permit, and depending on where you are going, you may need an import permit. Contact your nearest DOC CITES officer. We recommend that you contact the authorities where you are going, as some countries have very strict requirements about importing ivory (e.g. Australia, EU, US).

I am going overseas temporarily with my bagpipes, which have ivory mounts. What do I need to do?

You need to contact your nearest DOC CITES officer and apply for a re-export permit. Depending on where you are going, you may need more documentation. Please check with the authorities in the country you will be visiting.

Orchids

I am an avid gardener, and I see some beautiful orchids available online. Can I order them and get them delivered to New Zealand?

The entire orchid family (Orchidaceae) is listed on CITES. However, there are some exemptions for certain hybrids. Please contact your nearest DOC CITES officer to find out if the species you would like to import are covered by CITES or if there is an exemption.

Personal items

Do I need a permit for personal items that I have owned for a few years? What if I am only visiting a country for a few weeks?

The CITES regulations about personal items vary country-by-country. It depends on the items you have, the country you live in, and the country you are going to. Please contact your nearest DOC CITES officer to find out exactly what requirements you are subject to.

Pet birds

I am immigrating to New Zealand, and I want to bring my pet parrot with me. How do I do that?

New Zealand has not allowed the import of live birds since 1997 due to biosecurity reasons. Unfortunately, at this time, you can not import your pet bird into New Zealand.

I am leaving New Zealand to move to another country. How can I take my pet parrot with me?

You will need a CITES export permit to take your parrot with you. You can apply to the nearest DOC CITES officer. You will also need to talk to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) about any requirements they have. The importing country will also have regulations, so please look into those as well.

Pets

I was online and saw that I can get a pet hamster / snake / frog / beetle / chimpanzee / etc. How can I import one into New Zealand?

New Zealand has strict biosecurity regulations, and does not allow in new species as pets. It is not possible to import any of these species. There is more information about this on the MPI website.

Can I import a savannah cat into New Zealand?

New Zealand does not allow importation of savannah cats. Please contact MPI for more information.

Queen conch (Strombus gigas)

I have a queen conch tourist souvenir. Can I bring it into New Zealand?

Queen conch is a Caribbean species of shell, although they are sometimes sold in other parts of the world. If the country of origin has a personal effects exemption, you can bring up to three shells with you without an export permit. If you have four or more shells, you will require a permit.

Scientific samples

I would like to send or exchange samples with a university/zoo/research institute in another country. How can I do that?

The way to send or exchange samples depends on where the samples are going, and what type of samples they are. The following factsheet has more information, or you can contact your local DOC CITES office. 

Scientific transfers under CITES factsheet (PDF, 40K)

Seahorses

I bought some seahorses overseas. Can I bring them back to New Zealand with me?

If the country of origin has a personal effects exemption, you are allowed to bring up to four seahorses into New Zealand without a permit. If you have more than four, you require an export permit from the authorities in the country of origin.

Seized items

I had my property seized when I entered New Zealand? Can I get it back?

In general, it is not possible for DOC to return seized items. The back of the Notice of Seizure form gives a full explanation of our policy. If you have more questions, please contact your nearest DOC CITES officer.

Can I get a permit now that I am back in New Zealand?

All CITES permits must be obtained before taking an item out of the country of origin. It is very unlikely that the country of export will issue you with a retrospective CITES permit. Retrospective permits are issued and accepted only under special circumstances.

Can I give the item to a school or other educational place instead of it being destroyed?

Once forfeited, the item becomes the property of the Crown (New Zealand Government). DOC has arrangements with various schools and museums to lend items for educational and awareness purposes. If you would like to request that your item is included in the lending collection, please inform DOC and we will do what we can to accommodate your request.

Why isn’t there any information at the airports and on aircraft about CITES?

A series of factsheets and brochures are available at all international airport terminals in New Zealand and at many travel agents. DOC is bound by the rules and regulations of the Airport Authorities and must abide by these in regards to where this information is displayed, which sometimes is not in the best position for the departing traveller. We have approached a number airlines in the past asking if CITES information can be available for passengers on the flight, but all have declined this offer.

Souvenirs

I collected some seashells while on holiday. Can I bring them back into New Zealand?

Queen conch (Strombus gigas), giant clams, and many freshwater mussels are listed on CITES. In general, an export permit from the country of origin is needed to bring these specimens back to New Zealand. Before buying souvenirs, please check with the local CITES office (or contact a DOC CITES officer) to see whether you need a permit. Please also check the FAQ section onQueen conch and giant clams for more information.  

I saw some amazing animal skins while I was on holiday. Can I buy them and bring them back to New Zealand?

It depends on the species. The most sought-after species tend to be covered by CITES, and permitting is rigorous. For example, all big cats (Felidae) are covered by CITES, as are most species of zebra. Please check with your nearest DOC CITES officer for more information.

Traditional medicines

Can I bring medicine containing musk into New Zealand?

All species of musk deer are on CITES, and in general, an export permit is needed to bring medicine containing musk into New Zealand.

Read a Chinese language brochure on importing traditional medicines.

What other medicines are on CITES?

Common medicinal ingredients that may need a CITES permit are: po-chai (Saussurea costus); orchids (Dendrobium, Gastrodia, Bletilla), pangolin, bear, tiger, saiga, turtle, seahorse (Hippocampus), and tree fern (Cymbotium barometz).

My traditional medicine has been confiscated. Can I get it sent back to the original country?

No, seized items can not be sent back to the country of export. To do this would be breaking New Zealand law and CITES regulations. 

Whale specimens

Why do I need a CITES export permit from DOC to take my whalebone out of the country?

All cetacean (whale, dolphin, and porpoise) species are listed under CITES. When New Zealand joined CITES in 1989, it meant that we also agreed to comply with CITES rules. Because whales are listed in either Appendix I or Appendix II of CITES, an export permit is required for whale items (bone, teeth, etc.) to leave New Zealand. Please be aware that in some cases, you will also need an import permit from the destination country.

Why is it so hard to take some whalebone pieces (like musical instruments and Maori art) out of New Zealand compared to others?

Not all whale species are treated the same, and the degree of protection depends on how threatened the species is. Some whale species are listed under Appendix I, and some under Appendix II. Appendix I has stricter rules, and requires more documentation (i.e. an import permit and an export permit) before you can travel. In addition, some countries have regulations about whales that are stricter than CITES. Contact your nearest DOC CITES officer for more information about this.

Can I bring my tabua from Fiji into New Zealand?

Yes, you can bring it, but you will need to have an export permit issued by the Fijian CITES authorities. 

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Find out more

Contacts

CITES Management Authority
Science and Capability Group
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10420
Wellington 6143

Phone: +64 4 471 0726
Fax: +64 4 381 3057