Imports of protected species of animals and plants

The import of protected species of animals and plants is either prohibited or is possible only under certain conditions.

Logo CoP 18 CITES


Changes decided at CITES CoP18 entered into force on December 1st 2019

Three months after the 18th CITES Conference of the Parties took place in Geneva, important changes to trade regulations, which the Parties decided on, entered into force for Switzerland. The new decisions affect trade regulations for instruments made from certain wood species, which will no longer require permits for international trade, or the trade in some shark- and reptile species to name a few.

The changes affecting trade requirements for animal and plant species entered into force on December 1st 2019. It is important to know that this applies for the Swiss legislation and the date might be different for other CITES Parties. Information on the most important changes and what they mean can be found here:



Protected species of animals and plants, as well as parts and products derived therefrom, are subject to the CITES Convention, which monitors international trade in protected species.

The import regulations relating to species protection apply in addition to any animal health or disease control regulations (see Imports from the EU or Imports from third countries).

Affected species of animals and plants

To find out whether and to what extent trade is possible in certain species of animals and plants (including woods), check the CITES species list (see “More information” below).

Permit and import inspection

Imports of CITES-protected animals, plants and derived products require CITES export permits issued by the CITES enforcement authorities of the country of origin, as well as import permits from the FSVO. In addition, a CITES inspection must be carried out on import.

Musical instruments made from protected wood species must be accompanied by a CITES export permit.

Commercial CITES imports

Commercial importers who trade in products derived from CITES-protected species may apply for an open import licence. This enables them to import products without having to apply for a new import permit every time.

Open import licences can be issued for the following categories:

  • Furs and pelts of animal species listed in CITES Appendices II and III, and products derived therefrom;
  • Skins of animal species listed in CITES Appendices II and III;
  • Live leeches;
  • Tissue, cell and blood samples from species listed in CITES Appendices I, II and III intended solely for research purposes;
  • Red corals, black corals and pearls from the queen conch (Strombus gigas) as listed in CITES Appendices II and III;
  • Raw material containing plant extract from plant species listed in CITES Appendices II and III.

The open import licence is valid for two years.

The application form and inventory list (if one already exists), together with a list of any outlets, should be completed and sent to the FSVO (see “More information”).

Anyone who trades commercially in CITES specimens is obliged to keep an inventory control.

What do you want to import?

Under Import, select the relevant criteria in order to find out about the import conditions in detail.

More information

In detail

Species protection inspection

Commercial importers, CITES

Plants and plant products (incl. timber)

Scientific institution

Last modification 30.03.2021

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