Notification to the Parties

No. 1999/27 Geneva, 12 March 1999


Confirmation of permits
Decisions of the Standing Committee

1. At its 41st meeting (Geneva, February 1999), the Standing Committee discussed the work that is done by the Secretariat to confirm the validity and authenticity of permits and certificates (further referred to here as permit confirmation). The Committee took into account the costs and benefits of this work and the current workload of the Secretariat.

2. Having considered possible future approaches to permit confirmation, the Committee expressed a general preference that routine requests to the Secretariat for such confirmation should cease. There was some concern about the short-term effects of taking this approach. However, the Committee agreed that only one post at the Secretariat should be involved with permit confirmation for the time being. It also agreed to reconsider this issue at its 42nd meeting (currently planned for September 1999) on the basis of a paper to be prepared by the Secretariat.

Communications of the Secretariat

3. The Secretariat will consequently be unable to consider routine requests for the confirmation of permits. Rather, it will, from now on, focus its efforts on the provision of assistance in cases where fraud is suspected or where there is reason to believe that a permit or certificate has been incorrectly issued.

4. For this reason, the Secretariat has reviewed all its previous Notifications and other communications relating to permit confirmation.

5. The following Notifications relating to permit confirmation are considered as no longer valid: No. 661 of 19 December 1991 (Cameroon), No. 708 of 21 December 1992, No. 782 of 10 March 1994 (Thailand), No. 786 of 10 March 1994 (Geochelone spp.), No. 795 of 21 April 1994 (Colombia) and No. 931 of 4 September 1996 (Peru).

6. The following Notifications relating to permit confirmation remain valid unless the Secretariat is advised to the contrary by the Parties concerned: No. 572 of 30 April 1990 (Colombia), No. 573 of 30 April 1990 (Nigeria), No. 681 of 24 August 1992 (Burundi), No. 712 of 21 December 1992 (Paraguay) and No. 743 of 7 May 1993 (Kenya).

7. The Secretariat requests that Parties disregard all communications other than Notifications that specified the names of countries whose permits should be confirmed by the Secretariat, or the circumstances under which permits should be confirmed.

Requests for permit confirmation

8. The Secretariat has formulated guidelines for the Parties to indicate the circumstances in which it is recommended that they consult the Secretariat to seek assistance in confirming the authenticity and validity of permits and certificates. These guidelines are provided herewith as an annex to this Notification and the Secretariat urges the Parties to adhere to them as closely as possible.



1. The following Guidelines for the submission of requests to the Secretariat for confirmation of the authenticity and validity of CITES permits and certificates have been produced at the request of the CITES Standing Committee. They are valid from 12 March 1999 until further notice.

2. This document has been prepared to provide assistance to the Parties in determining whether a permit or certificate should be referred to the Secretariat before it is accepted. This is necessary because the Secretariat does not have sufficient resources to provide a permit confirmation service as a matter of routine. The decision as to whether a permit or certificate should be referred to the Secretariat should therefore be made on a case-by-case basis.

General Principles

1. The Management Authorities of the Parties designated in accordance with Article IX, paragraph 1.(a), of the Convention have exclusive responsibility for the issuance of the permits and certificates referred to in Articles III, IV, V, VI and VII of the Convention.

2. The Convention does not foresee a role for the Secretariat in this matter but it must perform any function entrusted to it by the Parties [Article XII, paragraph 2.(i)]. In this connection, the Conference of the Parties has provided a general statement in Decision 10.28:

The Parties should check with the Secretariat when they have doubts about the validity of permits (and certificates) accompanying suspect shipments.

3. In addition, specific circumstances under which permits or certificates should be referred to the Secretariat before they are accepted have been specified by the Conference of the Parties, the Standing Committee and the Secretariat. These are referred to below and they may be amended by future Notifications.

4. Consequently, in general, Parties should not refer permits or certificates to the Secretariat except where:

- there is reason to doubt their validity or authenticity; or

- there are suspicious circumstances; or

- the documents are to be referred to the Secretariat in accordance with the recommendations of the Conference of the Parties, the Standing Committee or the Secretariat itself.

5. However, the Secretariat remains at the disposal of Parties to provide advice or assistance when it is unclear what action they should take.

Specific Recommendations

From the Conference of the Parties

The Conference of the Parties has recommended that permits be referred to the Secretariat in certain circumstances. Moreover there are certain other cases where the Secretariat should be referred to in relation to the issuance or acceptance of permits. The specific recommendations are as follows.


Parties wishing to modify their permit and certificate forms, to reprint existing documents or to introduce new documents, should first ask the Secretariat for advice. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section I, paragraph a) under RECOMMENDS]

Any Party using phytosanitary certificates as certificates of artificial propagation should inform the Secretariat and provide copies of the certificates, stamps, seals, etc. that are used. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section VI, paragraph b)]

Parties that have not yet done so should communicate to the Secretariat the names of the persons empowered to sign permits and certificates, as well as three specimens of their signatures, and all Parties should communicate, within one month of any change thereto, the names of persons who have been added to the list of those already empowered to sign, the names of persons whose signatures are no longer valid and the dates the changes took effect. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section I, paragraph l) under RECOMMENDS]

Parties informing the Secretariat of the invalidity, deficiency or special requirements of permits and certificates should do so in a signed statement containing the name, address, and telephone/telex number of the government agency and official responsible for granting the relevant permits and certificates. [Resolution Conf. 4.22, paragraph b)]

Parties that have not designated Scientific Authorities

Parties should not accept export permits from countries that have not informed the Secretariat of their Scientific Authorities for more than one interval between regular meetings of the Conference of the Parties. (Resolution Conf. 10.3, paragraph b) under RECOMMENDS]

Lost, stolen or destroyed permits

When an export permit or a re-export certificate has been cancelled, lost, stolen or destroyed, the issuing Management Authority should immediately inform the Management Authority of the country of destination, as well as the Secretariat regarding commercial shipments. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section I, paragraph o) under RECOMMENDS]

Trade suspected to be detrimental

If any Party deems that an Appendix-II or -III species is being traded in a manner detrimental to the survival of that species, it should consult direct with the appropriate Management Authorities of the countries involved or, if this is not feasible or successful, make use of the provisions of Article XIII to call upon the assistance of the Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 2.6 (Rev.), paragraph a)i)]

The Parties should consult with the Secretariat when there is reason for concern as to whether the proper Scientific Authority findings are being made. (Resolution Conf. 10.3, paragraph f)]

Trade in raw ivory

No export, re-export or import of raw ivory should be authorized unless it is marked in accordance with Resolution Conf. 10.10 or in accordance with the Secretariat's Manual. (Resolution Conf. 10.10, paragraph g) under the fourth RECOMMENDS]

Parties may accept raw ivory from a producer non-party State only if a quota for that State has been reviewed by the Secretariat and communicated to the Parties and if the Secretariat has received from the State an annual report on its ivory trade, and if the State meets all the other conditions in Resolution Conf. 10.10 and Article X of the Convention (as interpreted by Resolutions of the Conference of the Parties). [Resolution Conf. 10.10]

Trade in vicuña cloth

Importing countries, in consultation with the Secretariat, should verify the validity of export permits for vicuña cloth in order to ascertain their origin. [Resolution Conf. 8.11 (Rev.)]

Trade in crocodilian skins

Parties should accept export permits, re-export certificates or other Convention documents for trade in crocodilian skins and parts thereof only if they contain the information referred to in paragraphs c), d), i) or j) [of Resolution Conf. 9.22], as appropriate, and if the related skins and parts thereof are tagged according to the provisions of this Resolution; the only exception to this latter requirement will be where a Party has stocks of existing tags that do not bear the information required in d) but has informed the Secretariat of the number and details of such tags, and plans to discontinue their use. In such cases, this should be stated on the export documentation which, after confirmation by the Secretariat, the Management Authority of the importing Party should accept. [Resolution Conf. 9.22, paragraph k)]

The Management Authorities of the exporting, re-exporting and importing Parties should provide to the Secretariat, when directed by the Standing Committee or agreed to between the range State and the CITES Secretariat, a copy of each export permit, re-export certificate, or other Convention document for crocodilian skins or flanks immediately after issuance or on receipt, as appropriate. [Resolution Conf. 9.22 Annex 2, paragraph 6]

Specimens of Appendix-I species bred in captivity

The Parties should ask for the Secretariat's advice before accepting the import of live specimens of Appendix-I species declared as bred in captivity. [Decision 10.29]

Parties shall continue to restrict commercial imports of captive-bred specimens of Appendix-I species to those produced by operations included in the Secretariat's Register. [Resolution Conf. 8.15, paragraph j)]

Parties shall reject any document granted under Article VII, paragraph 4, of the Convention, if the specimens concerned do not originate from an operation duly registered by the Secretariat and if the document does not describe the specific identifying mark applied to each specimen. (Resolution Conf. 8.15 Annex 4, paragraph b)]

Although the two preceding recommendations do not specifically require that the Secretariat be consulted, it may be consulted for the latest information regarding the Register.

Permits and certificates for trade in timber species

A copy of any export permit or re-export certificate amended in accordance with sub-paragraph iii) of paragraph f) in Section III, or with paragraph g) in Section VII, of Resolution Conf. 10.2, should be sent to the country of export or re-export, allowing it to amend its annual report, and to the CITES Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 10.2: Section II, paragraph f)v) under RECOMMENDS; and Section VII, paragraph h)]

Permits for species subject to quotas

When a country has export quotas allocated by the Conference of the Parties for specimens of species included in Appendices I and II, it should state on each export permit the total number of specimens already exported in the current year (including those covered by the permit in question) and the quota for the species concerned; the exporting and importing countries involved in trade in specimens of species for which there are such quotas should send copies of the original export permits, issued or received as appropriate, to the Secretariat to ensure that the quotas are not exceeded. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section II, paragraph j) under RECOMMENDS]

Trade in tourist souvenir specimens

Importing countries experiencing problems with imports of tourist souvenir specimens should notify the relevant exporting countries and the CITES Secretariat accordingly. (Resolution Conf. 10.6]

Documents from non-party States

Comparable documentation granted under Article VII, paragraph 4, of the Convention by States that are not Parties to the Convention shall not be accepted by the Parties without consultation with the Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 8.15, Annex 4, paragraph c)]

Parties should accept documentation from States not party to the Convention only if details of the competent authorities and scientific institutions of such States are included in the most recent updated list of the Secretariat or after consultation with the Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 9.5, paragraph b)]

Parties should authorize import from and export or re-export to States not party to the Convention of specimens of wild origin of Appendix-I species only in special cases where it benefits the conservation of the species or provides for the welfare of the specimens, and only after consultation with the Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 9.5, paragraph e)]

Parties should allow import from States not party to the Convention of captive-bred and artificially propagated specimens of Appendix-I species only after favourable advice from the Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 9.5, paragraph f)]

Parties should communicate to the Secretariat any inconsistencies in trade involving States not party to the Convention. [Resolution Conf. 9.5, paragraph g)]

Retrospective issue of permits and certificates

Whenever exceptions are made from the recommendations under paragraphs a) and b) of Section VIII of Resolution Conf. 10.2, in order to allow the retrospective issue of permits or certificates, the reasons for the relaxation should be specified on the permit or certificate and a copy sent to the Secretariat. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section VIII, paragraph d)ii)]

Names of higher taxa on permits and certificates

Parties should refuse to accept permits and certificates that do not indicate the name of the species concerned (including subspecies when appropriate), except in the case where:

i) the Conference of the Parties has agreed that the use of higher-taxon names is acceptable;

ii) the issuing Party can show it is well justified and has communicated the justification to the Secretariat; or

iii) certain manufactured products contain pre-Convention specimens that can not be identified to the species level. [Resolution Conf. 10.2 Section IX, paragraph e)]


When an illegal shipment in transit is discovered by a Party that can not seize it, the Party should provide to the country of final destination and to the Secretariat all relevant information on the shipment as soon as possible and, if applicable, to other countries through which the shipment will pass in transit [Resolution Conf. 9.7, paragraph f)]

Illegal trade

The Parties should provide to the Secretariat detailed information on significant cases of illegal trade [Resolution Conf. 9.8 (Rev.), paragraph b)]

The Parties should inform the Secretariat, when possible, about convicted illegal traders and persistent offenders, and the Secretariat should communicate such information quickly to the Parties [Resolution Conf. 9.8 (Rev.), paragraph c)]

All countries concerned are invited to co-operate to prevent illegal trade in whale meat, and to report to the CITES Secretariat on any development regarding this issue [Resolution Conf. 9.12]

From the Standing Committee

1. The Standing Committee from time to time makes recommendations regarding confirmation of permits and certificates. These are transmitted by the Secretariat in Notifications to the Parties.

2. The only such recommendations in effect at the time of issuance of these Guidelines are contained in Notification to the Parties No. 1999/20 regarding the implementation of Resolution Conf. 8.9. In accordance with these recommendations, Parties should seek confirmation with regard to permits for :

- skins of Lama guanicoe from Argentina; and

- skins of Ptyas mucosus from Indonesia.

3. If the Standing Committee withdraws its recommendations regarding these species and countries, or if it makes further recommendations in the context of Resolution Conf. 8.9, this information will be provided in further Notifications to the Parties.

From the Secretariat

1. The Secretariat sometimes receives information to indicate that there are good reasons why the permits being issued by a particular country (or for trade in a particiular taxon) should be confirmed by the Secretariat before being accepted. For example, there may be a large number of forged permits or certificates from that country in use. Whenever appropriate, the Secretariat will consult the Management Authority of the country concerned and, with its consent, will send a Notification to the Parties to request that all Parties seek confirmation of permits and certificates apparently issued by the country specified, until further notice.

2. If any Party is concerned that documents issued or apparently issued by its Management Authority are being accepted inappropriately, it should inform the Secretariat. A Notification to the Parties will be sent, to request that all Parties seek confirmation of permits and certificates apparently issued by the country specified, until further notice.

3. The only current Notifications to the Parties that recommend that permits or certificates be referred to the Secretariat before acceptance are the following:



Notification No. 572 of 30 April 1990

regarding Colombia


Notification No. 573 of 30 April 1990

regarding Nigeria


Notification No. 681 of 24 August 1992

regarding Burundi


Notification No. 712 of 21 December 1992

regarding Paraguay


Notification No. 743 of 7 May 1993

regarding Kenya.


Practical considerations

1. When the Secretariat is requested to confirm the authenticity of a permit or certificate, it will often need to consult the Management Authority of the issuing State. The latter authority is requested to respond within 14 days. If the Secretariat does not receive a reply within that time, it will inform the Management Authority of the requesting State that it is unable to confirm the document.

2. The Secretariat will not provide information to traders on the authenticity or validity of permits or certificates. Parties are therefore requested not to refer traders to the Secretariat for information.


CITES Secretariat/12 March 1999