Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010
This information sheet provides specific information on how to legally export or import butterfly specimens from and to Australia. It should be read in conjunction with the general information sheets entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving Australian native wildlife by regulating international trade. This helps to protect targeted species against overexploitation, and Australian ecosystems against the introduction of invasive species.
The Australian Government also works with other nations to protect wildlife globally, by implementing CITES (see CITES fact sheet mentioned above).
In Australia, the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated under Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which is administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Regulation applies equally to individuals, commercial organisations and not-for-profit organisations.
Butterflies and CITES
Live and non-live butterflies are traded by insect collectors and are often bought as souvenirs by tourists.
Many highly sought-after butterfly species have been included in CITES Appendix I and II in response to the decline in some wild populations as a result of unregulated international trade. Some more common butterfly species are included in Appendix II because they are so difficult to distinguish from more endangered species.
A permit issued by the department is generally needed to legally export Australian native and CITES-listed butterflies.
A permit may be issued for the export of butterfly specimens for personal purposes, unless the specimens are live, are CITES Appendix I species, or have been acquired or kept illegally.
A permit may be issued for the export of butterfly specimens for commercial purposes if they are derived from an approved source (see below).
A re-export permit may be issued for the export of butterfly specimens that have been legally imported into Australia, subject to any conditions legally imposed at the time of import.
Approved sources for export
The following approved sources apply to exports of butterfly specimens for commercial purposes:
- Appendix I species—captive breeding operation registered with the CITES Secretariat.
- Other regulated species—captive breeding operations, wildlife trade operations and wildlife trade management plans approved by the department.
A number of sources are currently approved. If the source of the specimen is not approved, please contact the department for further information.
A permit issued by the department is generally needed to legally import butterfly specimens of CITES listed species or live butterfly specimens.
An import permit is not needed if non-live specimens are being imported in accompanied baggage for personal purposes, and a permit to export has been issued by the CITES management authority of the country of export.
The import of live animals into Australia is strictly regulated. However, some animals are suitable for live import without a permit.
Species or specimens listed under Part 1 of the EPBC Act List of specimens suitable for live import do not need a permit. Species or specimens listed under Part 2 cannot be imported without a permit.
Live specimens not included in either Part 1 or 2 of the list may not be imported under any circumstances.
If the specimens are CITES Appendix II listed species, an export permit must be acquired from the exporting countries CITES management authority before any application for an Australian import permit. A copy of the export permit will be required to support the import permit application.
Specimens of a CITES Appendix I listed species must be sourced from a captive breeding operation registered with the CITES Secretariat.
Special permits and exemptions
An export permit from the department is not needed for up to five mounted, non-CITES native Australian butterflies that have been obtained from a captive breeding operation approved by the department, carried in accompanied baggage.
Specimens of CITES listed species that were acquired prior to listing are not subject to normal permitting requirements, and may be exported or imported under a pre-CITES certificate issued by the CITES management authority of the country of export.
Non-live specimens of CITES Appendix II species may be exported as personal effects, in accompanied baggage, under a personal baggage permit. These are often ordered by manufacturers and wholesalers of tourist souvenirs, and supplied at point of sale. Some fields on the reverse side of these permits must be completed by the exporter at the time of export.
What else do I need to know?
Exports and imports of wildlife and wildlife products may also be subject to regulation under the Customs Act 1901 (administered by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) and the Quarantine Act 1908 (administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service). These organisations may be contacted through offices in each state capital, or through their head offices:
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
5 Constitution Avenue
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6275 6666
Freecall: 1300 363 263
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6272 3933
Freecall: 1800 020 504
Where can I get more information?
For more information on permits, please read the general information sheet entitled How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products or contact the department at the address below:
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Wildlife Trade Regulation Section
GPO BOX 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 1900
Facsimile: 02 6274 1921
The following links may also be of use or interest: