CITES: Possible Implications as a result of the UK leaving the European Union (Brexit)

Date Released: Friday, March 15, 2019

CITES: Possible Implications as a result of the UK leaving the European Union (Brexit)

The UK has voted to leave the EU and is due to leave on 29th March 2019. A withdrawal agreement has been negotiated by the EU and this outlines the conditions under which the UK would leave. The withdrawal agreement provides for a transition period during which the future relationship between the EU and the UK can be negotiated. However, at this time, there remains a risk that the UK will choose to exit the EU without a deal (the negotiated agreement). This would likely result in a so-called ‘hard Bexit’ or ‘no-deal Brexit’.

Until there is clarity around the terms under which the UK chooses to leave the EU, it is difficult to usefully assess what the impacts will be on CITES in Ireland.  However, from the CITES perspective, the regulatory impacts of the withdrawal of the UK will be key and will determine how we approach future CITES arrangements between Ireland, as an EU Member State and the UK as a third country.  

In the event that there is a “no-deal” (and no transition period) Brexit and the UK becomes a “third” country from 11pm (GMT) on 29th March 2019, any import or export of CITES listed plant, animal and/or their parts and derivatives will require the appropriate CITES import/export permit.

Companies who import or export CITES listed goods on a regular basis should ensure that they contact the Irish CITES Management Authority as soon as possible to check the requirements for compliance with the European Wildlife Trade Regulations.

The general guidelines for the import and export of CITES listed materials can be found here

It is important to note that the EU has developed and adopted guidance documents for interpreting the EU Regulations on specific topics/trade. These should be referred to for the following specific cases:

  • The export, re-export, import and intra-EU trade of rhinoceros horns (Click here)

  • The re-export and intra-EU trade of raw and worked ivory (Click here)

  • Trade in worked specimens. (Click here)

Please note that these guidelines may be subject to amendment as the situation evolves in the coming weeks.


CITES Management Authority Ireland
15 March 2019