The UK Government has confirmed that an additional four ports (Belfast Seaport, Dover, Eurotunnel and Holyhead) will be designated to handle movements of protected animals or plants to ensure there is enough capacity to transports CITES (derived from endangered species) products in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Anyone wishing to import or export to the EU a specimen of a protected species of animal or plant – including several plants and timbers used in the production of furniture, such as rosewood – will require a CITES document. Such documents must be applied for in advance of travel and inspected and endorsed by Border Force at a CITES-designated point of entry or exit.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure international trade in specimens of endangered animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES agrees varying degrees of protection to species of animals and plants, whether trading or moving live specimens or their parts, from zoo animals to musical instruments to herbal remedies. The Species+ database includes details of all CITES-listed species. 

More than 900 tree species, of which many are valuable for timber, are currently listed under CITES' appendices.

International Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, says: “CITES plays a key role in protecting endangered species and we will continue to champion its aim after we leave the EU. While the Government is seeking a deal, we have stepped up our preparations and will be ready to leave the EU on 31st October, whatever the circumstances. Part of this is designating further ports, including Eurotunnel and Dover, so that people and businesses can still trade and move CITES specimens with minimal disruption.”

Protected animal and plant specimens will need a CITES document to be moved between the UK and the EU, and will only be able to travel through designated Points of Entry and Exit (PoE). The Government will increase the number of PoE which will be designated for CITES specimens to 29.

Custom offices at Eurotunnel, Dover and Holyhead will be designated, and special CITES arrangements have been put in place to help minimise any delays should they at these particular locations. Belfast Seaport will also be designated to allow CITES movements between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland over the land border and by sea. Businesses and individuals who are looking to use these routes should familiarise themselves with the arrangements and contact the port prior to moving CITES specimens and items between the UK and EU.

All CITES specimens that are currently freely moved and traded between the UK and the EU will require CITES documents. This means movement of all CITES specimens between the UK and the EU will need to follow the same processes as those currently in place for movement between the UK and non-EU countries. Applications for CITES documents permitting movement of CITES specimens into and out of the UK will be processed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

For CITES specimens that may also require plant or animal health certification, a CITES document does not replace the need for veterinary or phytosanitary inspection and certification, states DEFRA.