CITES Requirements for Sharks

At Elasmo-Morph, I go to great lengths to ensure that any shark species which are covered by CITES have the appropriate documentation both when imported into Australia, and then exported to the client overseas.

In most cases, all of the shark species I deal with come under Appendix II. I have attached below a link that explains what CITES is and how it works, and a link to the various shark species which are currently covered by CITES:

Countries around the world all have their own specific rules and regulations when it comes to either exporting or importing any specimens that are covered by CITES. It is important that the client familiarise themselves with the requirements pertaining to their country, prior to purchasing any specimens from overseas.

In addition, there are certain agencies which operate in various countries, each with their own particular requirements and laws which pertain to the import or export of CITES specimens. Again, it is up to the client to ensure they are well aware of these requirements before going ahead and importing or exporting CITES specimens.

Below is a link to the requirements of the US Fish and Wildlife Services:

I am going to outline a step-by step description of what happens when a client wishes to buy a shark specimen covered by CITES.

1. The client contacts me either via email, or on my Facebook page or my website with an enquiry as to the type of specimen they require.

2. Once the specimen is decided upon, the client pays a 50% deposit towards the preparation and costs of the specimen, together with the fee for applying to CITES for the paperwork.

3. The CITES documentation can take between 4 weeks and 8 weeks, depending on the workload of the Department in Canberra. That’s why I apply for the certificate pretty much immediately. The certificate is valid for a period of 6 months from the date of issue.

4. Once I receive the certificate, I will contact the client and email them a scanned copy of the certificate so they can advise the local authorities in their country of their intention to import a CITES specimen. They will also forward a copy of the certificate to them.


In the USA, the client will need to contact the USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) and apply for a declaration form (3-177)


In Canada, the client will need to contact the CWS (Canadian Wildlife Service) and check whether they require an import CITES permit.

The information can be found at:


In Europe, the client will need to contact the local authorities and check whether they are required to apply for an import permit. A list of countries and contact details can be found at:

5. Before I send the package to the client, I will await confirmation that all the appropriate paperwork has been received by the client.

I photocopy the exporting CITES document and keep a copy, just in case the original, which will be sent with the goods, is lost or removed.

The responsibility is with the client to ensure they have all the right information and documents for the specimen before I send it out.

6. I will also register the shipment with Australian Customs (known as the Integrated Cargo System), which allows me to input all the details of the buyer, the destination where the goods are being sent, and attach the CITES certificate numbers into their system. Once that is done, the ICS will generate an EDN (Export Declaration Number) which I will then write on the original CITES certificate and date it.

7. Countries such as the USA, Canada and the UK require that the CITES certificates, not only have a valid EDN number but are also physically stamped by the Australian Customs Authorities. Specimens sent by post will not automatically have their CITES certificates stamped by the authorities, therefore being deemed as invalid.

Courier companies are told they need to ensure the CITES certificates are stamped by Australian Customs. Again this does not occur in most instances.

In such cases, I will need to go to Sydney International Airport with both the specimens and the CITES certificates and get them stamped and validated myself.


If the client still wishes to have the specimen sent via post, they will need to organise a shipping agent in their country which will ensure the CITES paperwork is presented to the authorities and stamped accordingly.

8. If the item is being sent by post, I get the specimen packaged professionally by a company called Pack and Send in Sydney and then sent using Express Post which is both faster and tracked. The client will need to advise me if they wish to have the item insured.

The amount insured for cannot be more/less than what is shown on the invoice.

9. If the client wishes the item to be sent via courier, I use Pack and Send who will use whatever courier is available for the destination country. Using a courier will cost more than via post.

10. It is up to the client to ensure they are fully aware of both the legal requirements and the custom duty implications of importing such specimens into their country. I will not alter any invoices to show a lesser amount for Customs purposes, nor will I compromise on the professional packaging service. These items are travelling great distances and subject to a variety of modes of transport, therefore sound protection of such items is paramount


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