You may be permitted to trade in an antique or vintage item that you know contains parts of a CITES-listed species, including species listed under Appendix I, if you can prove that the item was acquired or was deceased before the date its species was first listed on CITES.
Appendix I species can only be imported or exported for personal or commercial purposes if they are vintage items. For example, you may own a family heirloom containing ivory from an African elephant (Loxodonta africana). If you can prove it was acquired or was deceased prior to the species’ listing date of 1977 you can apply for a CITES pre-Convention certificate to import or export the item.
To import specimens that were acquired or deceased before their listing under CITES, you need a pre-Convention certificate from the country of export. The CITES Management Authority of the country of last (re)export would need to be satisfied that the specimens were acquired or deceased before that date, in order to issue the certificate.
- Contact a CITES Management Authority in another country.
There is no legal requirement to apply for an Australian pre-Convention certificate before importing specimens that have a pre-Convention certificate from the country of (re)export. However, you are required to declare the importation, and it is recommended that you provide a copy of the overseas pre-Convention certificate to the Department of the Environment and Energy. This will allow the Department to confirm that the overseas certificate meets Australia’s requirements. It is also important to retain a copy for your records if you wish to re-export the specimens at a later stage.
Export or re-export
To (re)export specimens that were acquired or deceased before their listing under CITES, you need an Australian pre-Convention certificate. You must satisfy the Department that the specimens were acquired or deceased before the listing date for the relevant species for the certificate to be issued.
Documentation to support your application should include:
- A statutory declaration from the owner
- Receipts or any other documentation that supports the statutory declaration
- An age assessment from an independent expert – there are special requirements for rhino horn (below)
- Previous CITES documentation, if applicable
- Colour photographs of the item
- Dimensions of the item, including height, width and weight
- Distinguishing markings including unique serial numbers, identifiers or maker’s marks, if available
Independent experts can assess the age of elephant ivory. You can try museum or antiques experts or you can look at the list of approved valuers - Cultural Gifts Program.
The assessor must not have a financial or other interest in the item. This means the assessment cannot be from an auction house that is involved selling the item.
The assessment results must include the approximate age of the item and detailed reasons why the assessor believes the item to be that age. The credentials of the assessor should be included as an attachment.
Note that radiocarbon dating will also be required to obtain pre-Convention certificate for rhinoceros specimens. For more information see Elephant and rhino trade.