CITES permits and Certificates of Scientific Exchange

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) protects animal and plant species to ensure that commercial trade does not threaten their survival in the wild. It regulates the trade of listed species through the use of permits. The Division of Management Authority processes applications for CITES permits for the United States. Under CITES, a species is listed at one of three levels of protection, which have different permit requirements. For more information about the permits required to import, export, or re-export species listed under CITES, see our Import Guide.

If the specimen is a loan, donation, or exchange between CITES-registered institutions then a Certificate of Scientific Exchange (COSE) can be used. Both the sending and receiving institutions must be CITES-registered. This is the most common means of transferring materials among museums.

To become a CITES-registered institution, apply for a Certification of Scientific Exchange using Form 3-200-39. If the USFWS Division of Management Authority (DMA) determines that your institution is eligible to become a CITES-registered institution, the DMA will forward the information to the CITES Secretariat for inclusion on the registration list. There is no fee for state or municipal facilities; all others pay $100. Once issued, the COSE will allow you to receive and send CITES materials that have been accessioned by your museum to any other CITES-registered institution, without an individual permit. The COSE is valid for four years.

If a specimen is also ESA-listed, the COSE cannot be used. You will need a CITES/ESA permit and an ESA permit. The same is true for specimens requiring MBTA permits.

Read the CITES regulations here.