Guide to the import and export of wildlife specimens for non-commercial purposes

Introduction

Australian legislation governing the export of native wildlife and wildlife products, the import of endangered species and the import of live animals and plants is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

The EPBC Act controls the export of most Australian native animals and plants and fulfils Australia's requirements as a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Many animal and plant species are considered threatened by trade and have been included on CITES to help protect populations in the wild.

Under the EPBC Act, non-commercial trade exports and imports may be allowed where the wildlife specimens are to be used for one of the following purposes:

  • research;
  • education;
  • exhibition;
  • conservation breeding or propagation;
  • household pets;
  • personal items; and
  • travelling exhibition.

Approval under these provisions is conditional on the applicant meeting the relevant criteria contained in the EPBC Act and associated regulations.

The EPBC Act also contains specific provisions and requirements for the import and export of live animals and plants.

Exemptions

A number of animal and plant species do not require export or import approval from the Department of the Environment (the department). The specimens exempt from import/export controls are contained on the following lists:

Research

The non-commercial export or import of a specimen may be approved for scientific research if the project will result in a better understanding or increased knowledge: of the taxon; of the conservation of biodiversity; or of the maintenance and/or improvement of human health.

In order to obtain a permit for the purposes of research it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Assessment
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

The applicant will need to demonstrate that they and/or their organisation can satisfy the following requirements (as contained in Regulation 9A.09 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2001):

  1. the research is done by a person or institution that has sufficient resources and qualifications;
  2. the researcher publishes, or makes available for inspection, the results of the research in the country where the research is done;
  3. if asked by the Minister, the researcher gives to the Minister written information about the progress and results of the research;
  4. during and after the research, the researcher does not allow the specimen, or progeny or products of the specimen, to be used for commercial purposes;
  5. for research involving a live animal, the animal is held in a way that is known to result in minimal stress and risk of injury to the animal;
  6. in the case of research in which an animal is killed, the killing is done in a way that is generally accepted to minimise pain and suffering;
  7. the number of specimens to be imported or exported is appropriate to the needs of the research;
  8. if possible, the specimen comes from a captive animal or artificially propagated plant.

Also, for a specimen listed as threatened under section 178 of the EPBC Act, the export is consistent with any recovery plan for the species.

Information that will need to be supplied with the Application.

If a permit has not previously been obtained for the same taxon and research project you will need to provide a range of comprehensive information about the project that addresses each of the requirements contained in the EPBC Act. This should include a precis of the project including details of the objectives, methodology, and information demonstrating that the researcher can satisfy the regulations outlined above.

For all live specimens, please refer to the Live Animal or Live Plant section for further information.

Other associated approvals and permits.

Applicants should also scan and attach copies of any other relevant approvals or permits relating to the project or the specimens, this should include copies of:

  • ethics committee approvals;
  • State/Territory government collection, holding, export or import permits;
  • CITES import/export permits; and/or
  • Department of Agriculture permits.

Education

The non-commercial export or import of a specimen may be approved for education if the specimen will be used for education or training by an institution that has the primary function of educating or training enrolled or registered students.

In order to obtain a permit for the purposes of education it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Assessment
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

The applicant will need to demonstrate that they and/or their organisation can satisfy the following requirements (as contained in Regulation 9A.10 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2001):

  1. the specimen will be used for education or training by a private or public institution that has a primary function of educating or training enrolled or registered participants;
  2. the specimen will not be used for commercial purposes after it is no longer needed for education or training by the institution;
  3. the specimen is not needed for conservation breeding or propagation by the exporting country;
  4. if possible, the specimen comes from a captive animal or an artificially propagated plant;
  5. for education or training involving a live animal, the animal is held in a way that is known to result in minimal stress and risk of injury to the animal;
  6. in the case of education or training in which an animal is killed, the killing is done in a way that is generally accepted to minimise pain and suffering;
  7. for a live export of a koala, platypus, wombat or Tasmanian devil, or an animal of an eligible listed threatened species, the exporter, the importer and the department enter into an agreement about the treatment and disposal of the animal and any progeny of the animal. (Refer to the section on Ambassador Agreements).

Also, for a specimen listed as threatened under section 178 of the EPBC Act, the export is not inconsistent with any recovery plan for the species.

Information that will need to be supplied with the Application.

If a permit has not previously been obtained for the same taxon and education project you will need to provide a range of comprehensive information about the project that addresses each of the requirements contained in the EPBC Act. This should include details on the student enrolment or registration arrangements for the institution, the objectives and methodology of the project, and how the proposed education or training project relates to the education or training program of the institution.

Information should also be provided to specifically address each of the other requirements, as listed above.

Other associated approvals and permits.

Applicants should also scan and attach copies of any other relevant approvals or permits relating to the project or the specimens, this should include copies of:

  • ethics committee approvals;
  • State/Territory government collection, holding, export or import permits;
  • CITES import/export permits; and/or
  • Department of Agriculture permits.

Exhibition

The non-commercial export or import of a specimen may be approved for exhibition if the exhibition presents information with a cultural, scientific or conservation content.

In order to obtain a permit for the purposes of exhibition it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Assessment
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

The applicant will need to demonstrate that they and/or their organisation can satisfy the following requirements (as contained in Regulation 9A.11 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2001):

  1. the exhibition presents information with a cultural, scientific or conservation content;
  2. if the specimen is a live animal, it does not belong to a CITES I species (the CITES list is available at: CITES species);
  3. the specimen is not used for commercial purposes after it is no longer needed for an exhibition by the institution;
  4. the specimen is not needed for conservation breeding or propagation by the exporting country;
  5. if possible, the specimen comes from a captive animal or artificially propagated plant;
  6. for a live export of a koala, platypus, wombat or Tasmanian devil, or an animal of an eligible listed threatened species, the exporter, the importer and the department enter into an agreement about the treatment and disposal of the animal and any progeny of the animal.

Also, for a specimen listed as threatened under section 178 of the EPBC Act, the export is not inconsistent with any recovery plan for the species.

Information that will need to be supplied with the Application.

If a permit has not previously been obtained for the same taxon and exhibition project you will need to provide a range of comprehensive information about the project that addresses each of the requirements contained in the EPBC Act. This should include information on the cultural, scientific and conservation content of the exhibition.

Other associated approvals and permits.

Applicants should also attach to their application copies of any other relevant approvals or permits relating to the project or the specimens, this should include copies of:

  • ethics committee approvals;
  • State/Territory government collection, holding, export or import permits;
  • CITES import/export permits; and/or
  • DAFF Biosecurity permits.

Conservation Breeding or Propagation

The non-commercial export or import of live specimens may be approved for conservation breeding or propagation where the specimens are to be used in an approved Cooperative Conservation Program.

In order to obtain a permit for the purposes of conservation breeding or propagation it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Assessment
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

The applicant will need to demonstrate that the animal or plant is to be used in a 'Cooperative Conservation Program' which has been approved by the department.

In accordance with Regulation 9A.12 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2001, approval of a 'Cooperative Conservation Program' is only possible if the program can satisfy the following requirements:

  1. the program's objectives are based on the conservation status and conservation needs of the species of which the specimen is a member; and
  2. it is operated in a way that:
    1. applies best practice to the management of husbandry, genetics, biology and behavioural needs of the species to which the specimen belongs; and
    2. is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild; and
  3. it is operated with the intent of conserving the species (in the wild or in captivity, or both); and
  4. it does not allow a specimen, used in the program, to be used for commercial purposes; and
  5. it takes into account the conservation breeding or propagation needs of each country from which specimens are imported; and
  6. a specimen is removed from the program only in accordance with the program's objectives; and
  7. a specimen is not moved between institutions within the program, or out of the program, in a way that is detrimental to other conservation programs or activities; and
  8. for a live export of a koala, platypus, wombat or Tasmanian devil, or an animal of an eligible listed threatened species, the exporter, the importer and the department enter into an agreement about the treatment and disposal of the animal and any progeny of the animal.

Also, for a specimen listed as threatened under section 178 of the EPBC Act, the export is not inconsistent with any recovery plan for the species.

Information that will need to be supplied with the Application.

If a 'Cooperative Conservation Program' has been approved for the species being imported/exported it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Assessment
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

In cases where a 'Cooperative Conservation Program' has not previously been approved you need to provide comprehensive information on the proposed 'Cooperative Conservation Program' for assessment by the department. The information supplied will need to demonstrate that the program meets the requirements for a 'Cooperative Conservation Program' as listed above. This information can be presented in a variety of forms, including documents such as Captive Management Plans, threatened species recovery plans or international breeding programs.

Other associated approvals and permits.

Applicants should also scan and attach copies of any other relevant approvals or permits relating to the project or the specimens, this should include copies of:

  • ethics committee approvals;
  • State/Territory government collection, holding, export or import permits;
  • CITES import/export permits; and/or
  • Department of Agriculture permits.

Household Pets

In order to obtain a permit to import or export a household pet it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Regulation
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

Import

The import of household pets is only possible if the species is included on the List of Specimens Suitable for Live Import and the conditions associated with the species can be complied with.

Note: species on Part 1 of the List of Specimens Suitable for Live Import do not require a permit from the department. Species on Part 2 of the list require a permit from the department and some species also have a condition which excludes them from importation as household pets.

Additionally, the importer will need to demonstrate that:

  • they have owned and kept the animal as a household pet (copies of a receipt of purchase or personal photos of the animal will generally be sufficient);
  • the animal will be transported in a way that is known to result in minimal stress, risk of injury and adverse effect on the health of the animal (in most cases this requirement can be met by ensuring that the shipment of the animal is in accordance with the International Air Transport Association's 'Live Animal Regulations: - please check with your airline for further details); and
  • the owner is suitable equipped to manage, confine and care for the animal, including meeting behavioural and biological needs of the animal.

Export

The export of household pets of Australian native species and of species listed on the Appendices to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) requires a permit issued by the department.

In the case of Australian native species permits can only be issued for the following species:

  • Cacatua galerita (Sulphur-crested Cockatoo)
  • Cacatua roseicapilla (Galah)
  • Cacatua sanguinea (Little Corella)
  • Cacatua tenuirostris (Long-billed Corella)
  • Nymphicus hollandicus (Cockatiel)
  • Melopsittacus undulatus (Budgerigar)

For species other than budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) and cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), no more than three animals may be exported.

Additionally for all household pet exports (native species and CITES listed species) the exporter must demonstrate that:

  • they have owned and kept the animal as a household pet (please provide evidence, such as a copy of a receipt of purchase or personal photos of the animal);
  • they are leaving Australia or an external Territory with the intention of taking up permanent residence in another country (please provide evidence, such as a letter from an employer or receipt from a furniture removal company);
  • that have been ordinarily resident in Australia or an external Territory (please provide evidence, such as a copy a residency visa or drivers licence);
  • the animal will be transported in a way that is known to result in minimal stress, risk of injury and adverse effect on the health of the animal (in most cases this requirement can be met by ensuring that the shipment of the animal is in accordance with the International Air Transport Association's 'Live Animal Regulations: - please check with your airline for further details); and
  • the owner is suitable equipped to manage, confine and care for the animal, including meeting behavioural and biological needs of the animal.

Personal Items

The export or import of personal wildlife items (non-living) may be possible under either an exemption or a permit. Further information can be located at:

Travelling with plants and animals (including products) as personal effects into or out of Australia

Travelling Exhibition

The non-commercial export or import of a specimen may be approved for travelling exhibition if the travelling exhibition presents information with a cultural, scientific or conservation content.

In order to obtain a permit for the purposes of exhibition it is necessary to complete the on line application:

If you are unable to apply for a permit online – please contact this office to discuss an alternative method for submitting an application.

Wildlife Trade Assessment
Department of the Environment
Telephone: (02) 6274 1900
Email: wildlifetrade@environment.gov.au

An application may be made where the applicant is able to demonstrate that they and/or their organisation can satisfy the following requirements (as contained in Regulation 9A.15 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2001):

  1. the travelling exhibition presents information with a cultural, scientific or conservation content; and
  2. if the specimen is a live animal, it is not a CITES I specimen (CITES list); and
  3. if the specimen was imported for the purposes of a travelling exhibition, it and any progeny produced after the import are subsequently exported; and
  4. if the specimen was exported for the purposes of a travelling exhibition, it and any progeny produced after the export are subsequently imported.

Information that will need to be supplied with the Application.

Applications will need to contain a range of comprehensive information about the project that addresses each of the requirements contained in the EPBC Act. This should include information on the cultural, scientific and conservation content of the exhibition.

Other associated approvals and permits.

Applicants should also scan and attach copies of any other relevant approvals or permits relating to the project or the specimens, this should include copies of:

  • ethics committee approvals;
  • State/Territory government collection, holding, export or import permits;
  • CITES import/export permits; and/or
  • Department of Agriculture permits.

Live Animals and Plants

Live Imports

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 contains specific provisions for the import of live animal and plant specimens. These provisions are in addition to provisions under the Quarantine Act 1908, administered by the Department of Agriculture.

The EPBC Act contains a list of species that are approved for live import. The list is comprised of two parts:

  • Part 1 is a list of live specimens that do not require an import permit under the EPBC Act. It includes any plant the introduction of which is in accordance with the Quarantine Act but may not include any CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) specimens.
  • Part 2 is a list of live specimens that require an import permit from the department under the EPBC Act. Imports of specimens from this part of the list may also be subject to certain conditions or restrictions.

If a species is not on the list of approved imports it cannot be imported into Australia.

Live Animal Imports and Exports - welfare requirements

For all exports and imports relating to a live specimen which belongs to the class Mammalia (mammals), Amphibia (amphibians), Reptilia (reptiles) or Aves (birds) it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the regulations relating to animal welfare have been, or are likely to be, complied with. The Regulations require that:

  • the animal will be prepared and transported in a way that is known to result in minimal stress, risk of injury and adverse effect on the health of the animal; and
  • the person receiving the animal is suitably equipped to manage, confine and care for the animal, including meeting the behavioural and biological needs of the animal;

Applications relating to live mammals, amphibians, reptile or birds will need to include information demonstrating that these criteria can be satisfied. Specific Conditions for the overseas transfer of Australian native animals apply to the export from Australia of koalas and macropods (kangaroos, wallabies and allies). Applications for these species will need to demonstrate that the relevant conditions have been met.

Ambassador Agreements

For the live export of a koala, platypus, wombat, or Tasmanian devil, or an animal of an eligible listed threatened species, an Ambassador Agreement must be made between the department, the exporter and the importer about the treatment and disposal of the animal and any progeny of the animal. The department should be contacted regarding this agreement at the same time as an application for permit is submitted.