Australia has very strict rules relating to the international movement of wildlife and wildlife products, particularly for internationally endangered plants and animals that are on the CITES list (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
You will need CITES permits to import and export species that are endangered or may be at risk of becoming endangered, and are subject to trade restrictions.
Tourists and returning holiday-makers often bring souvenir items containing wildlife products into Australia. Your souvenirs from CITES-listed species may be seized if you have not met Australian requirements for import of that species.
Most commonly seized items
The most commonly seized items include:
- hoodia - an appetite suppressant from the plant, Hoodia gordonii
- Po chai pills, which contain the endangered plant Saussurea costus
- American ginseng
- elephant products (including ivory)
- shark fin
- whale products (including teeth)
- hunting trophies
- traditional medicines that contain endangered plants and animals
- crocodile and alligator products
- Marine turtle products
Before bringing any wildlife product (including plant material) into Australia, it is important to check whether it is listed on CITES and whether there are any conditions on importation.
Be sure to apply for an import permit ahead of time, as they will not be issued once the item has entered the country.
If the item you intend to import is not derived from a CITES-listed species, make sure it is accompanied by documentation that clearly states the scientific name of the species.
Why was my item seized?
The most common reasons an item may be seized are:
- It is derived (or is suspected to be derived) from a CITES-listed specimen and was not accompanied by valid export and import permits.
- The item was not accompanied by documentation clearly stating the scientific name of the species from which it was derived.
- It was not accompanied by pre-CITES documentation issued by the CITES management authority of the exporting country. This documentation is evidence that the item was taken from the wild before it was listed on CITES.
Apply for return of seized goods
If your item has been seized, you may apply to the Secretary of the Australian Government environment department for release of the item.
- For more information about seizures or caution notices contact:
International Wildlife Trade
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: (02) 6274 2274 or (02) 6274 2275
Any product made from an endangered animal cannot be imported or exported without permission.
This leopard head was seized.
Red coral earings