Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010
Australia's unique plants and animals are known throughout the world and are an important part of our natural heritage.
For this reason, the Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving our native wildlife. One of the ways it does this is by regulating international wildlife trade as a party to the Convention on International Trade in Threatened and Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES)1. Australia is one of 175 CITES member countries.
By monitoring and controlling the import and export of wildlife, the Australian Government can better protect targeted species against overexploitation and protect Australia's wildlife against introduced invasive species.
Brokers and forwarders
Customs brokers and freight forwarders have a valuable role to play helping companies and individuals to move goods in and out of the country. It is essential that all the legislative requirements for a variety of different products, including wildlife, are met.
If customs brokers and freight forwarders are not fully aware of the requirements for the international movement of wildlife, items leaving or entering Australia may be seized by Australian Customs Service.
What is ‘wildlife’?
Wildlife items can sometimes be overlooked as they may not be obvious at first. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) defines wildlife as being:
…any whole, part or derivative of a plant or animal, either living or non-living. E.g. wood, seeds, insects, leather/fur, pills/medicines, faeces, teeth, meat, live plants, fresh or dried flowers etc.
Anything meeting the above description should be treated as wildlife and is subject to Australian regulation.
Regulation applies equally to individuals and companies and may apply regardless of the commercial or personal nature of the shipment.
If you are unsure of the items on an inventory, contact DEWHA for advice on (02) 6274 1900.
What permits are required?
In Australia, the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated using a permit system under Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Common household items that may require permits but are often overlooked include:
- ivory/elephant products2
- decorative animal skins
- hunting trophies, and
- items of furniture made with exotic leathers.
Application for permits must be lodged by your client. While you can be nominated to act on their behalf, the permit is issued in the clients name and it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that all conditions of the permit are met. However your clients will rely on you, as their broker or forwarder, for guidance in this matter.
The export of most Australian native species is regulated, particularly for commercial purposes. You should contact DSEWPaC if your client wishes to export any native specimens.
If a permit is required to ship a wildlife specimen, ensure that it is obtained before the shipment takes place.
For more information on obtaining permits, see the fact sheet How to export or import wildlife and wildlife products.
Once an item has been seized, a permit cannot be issued for that specimen.
If permits have not been obtained by your client, or they do not adequately reflect the content of a shipment or are otherwise invalid for any reason, the shipment will be seized by the Australian Customs Service.
As the representative for the client, it is the brokers or forwarders responsibility to action the seizure notice.
If the client wishes to apply to DEWHA for release of the specimens (s444c EPBC Act), you must forward the Notice of Seizure to your client so that they can personally submit an application within 30 days of the date of seizure.
Applications for release (found on the reverse of the grey copy of the Notice of Seizure) that are not submitted within the 30-day time frame will not be considered by the department and the item will be forfeited and subsequently destroyed.
Declaring goods to Customs
In some circumstances, incorrect declaration or failure to declare wildlife items at all has resulted in the forfeiture and disposal of wildlife items.
Be sure that you use the correct Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) and tariff code descriptions when entering information into the Integrated Cargo System (ICS). Incorrect descriptions and declarations will affect the decision to return eligible goods to your clients should they apply for release.
For further information please contact:
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:
- List of CITES species
- List of exempt native specimens
- List of specimens taken to be suitable for live import
- Permit application forms
- CITES authorities in other countries
- DEWHA fact sheets for export/import
- See fact sheet entitled The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for further information or go to www.cites.org
- See fact sheet entitled How to export or import elephant products for further information.