German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)



New legislation on species conservation


Throughout the world today, populations of many animal and plant species are endangered or even threatened with extinction as a result of trade interests. In order to counteract this threat effectively, the 'Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora' - abbreviated to
CITES - was signed in Washington, 1973. In Germany, CITES has been in force since 1976 and 183 countries have become Parties to the Convention to date (current status 20. October 2016) (CITES Parties). The objective of CITES is to control international trade, one of many factors for the persistent decline in species and populations of animal and plants worldwide. 'Trade' means each transport crossing a border irrespective of the purpose behind. Endangered species are listed in the Convention's three Appendices, grouped according to the level of protection they require. Different levels of restriction then apply to international trade in these species. The lists in these Appendices are updated every two years at the Conference of the Parties to CITES.


Since 1984 the European Union (EU) has implemented CITES uniquely and obliging for all Member States by 'Wildlife Trade Regulations'. To consider the specialities of the Single Market within the EU the regulations were basically revised since June 1997. These regulations implement CITES and partly consider EU directives.

  • Annex A
    contains all the species listed in CITES Appendix I (species threatened with extinction which are or may be affected by trade) and species considered by the European Union to be in such high demand in international trade that any trade would endanger the survival of the species.
    This includes among other things some primate species, all whales, some species of bears and cats, certain parrots, birds of prey, owls and storks, various tortoises and crocodiles, all sea turtles, some species of large snakes and various species of cactus, orchid, euphorbia and aloe.
  • Annex B
    contains all the species listed in CITES Appendix II (species whose conservation status permits strictly regulated commercial use subject to scientific control) and species traded internationally in such quantities that unregulated trade could endanger the survival of the species or of populations in certain countries.
    This Annex covers among other things all primates, bears, cats, parrots (except Peach-faced Lovebird, Budgerigar, Cockatiel and Ring-necked Parakeet), birds of prey, owls, flamingos and storks, all tortoises, crocodiles, large snakes, monitor lizards, poison dart frogs, giant shellfish and corals, together with all cactus, orchid, euphorbia, cyclamen and aloe species (except aloe vera) not already afforded protection under Annex A.
  • Annex C
    contains all the other species in CITES Appendix III (species identified by any Party as subject to special regulation within its jurisdiction) unless these species are already listed in Annex A or B or rather in Annex D owing to a reservation by EU Member States.
  • Annex D
    contains the species for which the scale of imports into the European Union justifies close quantitative monitoring in order to obtain statistics and determine whether a higher level of protection should be imposed.

The EU Wildlife Trade Regulations lay down provisions for

  • the import and export of species listed in Annex A to D;
  • the internal trade (commercial use) of species listed in Annex A or B as well as marking obligations in that context;
  • other movement of Annex A specimens within the EU.

Special national regulations

The German Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) and Federal Ordinance on the Conservation of Species (BArtSchV) contain provisions for implementation of these international regulations as well as conservation provisions which go beyond the terms of the international regulations.

The additional national regulations principally cover species which require protection on the basis of the Birds Directive or the Habitats Directive of the European Union.

Furthermore in Annex 1 to the Federal Ordinance on the Conservation of Species, native species of fauna and flora whose populations are threatened by human intervention are placed under protection.

This national protection applies principally to:

The possession of specimens of these specially protected species as well as their commercial use (e.g. sale, offer for sale, purchase for commercial purposes) is prohibited as a matter of policy, and only permissible in exceptional cases where certain conditions have been met.

The species conservation regulations cover not only live but dead animals, plants and products where there is any reason to believe that they constitute or contain parts or derivatives of protected animals or plants. The term specimen is subsequently used to refer to the entire range of products concerned.

  • European bird species: Holder of a specific exemption, granted in writing by a management authority;
  • Species covered by the Habitats Directive: Holder of a specific exemption, granted in writing by a management authority;
  • Species in Annex 1 to the Federal Ordinance on the Conservation of Species (BArtSchV):evidence that animals or plants were imported from Third countries (non EU Member States).

Technical procedures


The EU has specified standard forms on which to apply for issue of permits, and for the permits themselves. The authority responsible for issuing permits is the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Applying for a permit

Applications must be made informally in writing for exemptions from the prohibitions on possession and commercial use of imported species subject solely to national protection. The competent authority for issuing permits and exemptions is the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

The provisions on import and export also apply as a matter of policy to specimens intended for import to the EU or export from the EU as household effects or items for personal use. With regard to the current exemptions, please consult the section on Personal Effects for more detailed information.

Useful Links

CITES First Page - official website of the CITES Sekretariat

Full text of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora including Appendices, in English, French and Spanish. Furthermore, addresses are listed for all implementing and scientific bodies in Party countries and non-signatory states, along with all valid resolutions, decisions or notifications.

DG XI Wildlife Trade and the Implementation of CITES

General information on the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and on its implementation in the European Union with reference to the two EU species conservation
Regulations No. 338/97 of the Council and 939/97 of the Commission

Last Change: 01/03/2021