Obtaining CITES Permits for Your Parrots

Photo from www.fabstuff.net

NOTE: I’ve only had to do this from the USA. All these requirements are based on the USA’s requirements for traveling with exotic parrots.

The first thing you need to know about your parrot is its scientific name. You can easily google this online. Here are some, as examples, of more popular species: - African Grey “Psittacus erithacus erithacus” - Umbrella Cockatoo “Cacatua alba” - Yellow-Lored Amazon “A. xantholora” - Blue and Gold Macaw “Ara ararauna”.  

The next thing you should know is whether your parrot is an appendix 1, 2 or 3. If you don’t know, the USFWS will help you out with it as long as you know the scientific name of your parrot. Once you know these two important things about your parrot, you need to contact USFWS and find out which application you will need to fill out for your appendix 1, 2 or 3. Here are some examples of what some species fall under: - Blue Throat Macaw (Appendix 1) - Umbrella Cockatoo (Appendix 2) - African Grey (Appendix 2) - Rose Breasted Cockatoo (Appendix 2).  If your parrot is an appendix 1, you will need both an import and export permit from the country you are visiting. You will then also need to talk to the country you are visiting and find out their requirements as each country has its own. For example, nothing can come in or out of Australia, while you can take your parrot to China but cannot bring it back to the USA. Once you know which application to fill out for your parrot, you will do so and enclose a fee. It’s good to plan on the fee being around $100 as that’s the “norm” I encounter but it will all depend on the type of permit you need. If you go from the US to Canada a lot, it’s best to get a “pet passport” issued for your parrot. This allows for multiple entries. Before leaving the US you must call USFWS and let them know all of your traveling plans. You must also make sure you are leaving from a designated port of entry. A list of the designated ports will come to you on a separate piece of paper when you receive your CITES permit. As well as USFWS being “in the know” with your travel plans, USDA also needs to be just as informed. You will also need to call USDA and let them know your travel plans for you will need to make appointments for them to examine your bird before leaving and before coming back into the US (a separate appointment will also need to be made with USFWS). This needs to happen whether you’re driving or flying! And both will charge a fee. Weekends, holidays and “after hours” are significantly higher fees – so try to avoid those.  

Photo by David Location: In the car Road Trippin’: Congo African Grey “Cressi” 

Along with your CITES permit or pet passport, you will also need to apply for a USDA import permit which usually takes 1 month to process. A USDA certified health certificate is usually needed but not always and this just means your vet that provides you with the health certificate must be a USDA certified veterinarian. Depending on which country or state you are going to, your vet may need to submit the health certificate to get a “seal of approval” from the head of the USDA office in that state or origin. We’ve had to do this for places like Grand Cayman and even Canada. On top of all this, I realize it’s a lot to take in; you will also need a USFWS declaration form which they give to you upon exit and entry. This means you will need to fill it out nice (you can always photo copy the first one to make the second go easier) and pay the import and export fees to USDA and USFWS. It’s best to start this entire process as early as a year in advance and on rare occasions it can all be done in less than one month prior to departure. For example, in order to obtain my “pet passport” for my rose breasted cockatoo, it took one year. On another occasion, it took less than one month to get my permit for my Congo African Grey to be able to join me on a cruise ship in Alaska. An important note: ALWAYS hang onto expired paperwork! USDA needs to be able to verify that you are coming back into the country with the same parrots you left with. So that health certificate that expires within 10 days – keep it! They will want to see it upon your return to the US for verification. Failure to do all this properly can result in: - Having your parrot(s) taken from you/seized - A large fine - Being put in jail. However, as long as these government officials see you are trying to do it properly, they will work with you. It can be very confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before and it’s easy to get disorganized in the process. At one time we were coming back across the Canadian border after hours and ran into a vet that merely filled in every once in a while and was not an expert on parrots or birds at all for that matter. He took one confused look at our paperwork and said, “Toucan? Is that another word for canary?”  In case some of you don’t know… here is the difference between a “toucan” and a “canary”…  

Top: Red-Billed Toucan,  Bottom: Canary (photos from www.dkimages.com)    

A lot of problems stemmed from that late night of tired people and later on it caught up to us because that vet had done it all wrong. We had to pay a fee of $250. So sometimes, even when you do it right, things can go wrong. The agent on the line who tracked us down (at the time we were traveling through Seattle) said we were the only people who had ever come in on our own that they didn’t have to go out and arrest! Yikes!

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.



I have a rescued Umbrella Cockatoo. He didn’t come with any paper of identification. I am wondering if I should somehow get papers for him to at least be identified. Is CITES only used traveling with your bird? Is it needed? I am just concerned that it is illegal or not good to keep him without any information. I went o a beach here in the USA and I couldn’t take my bird out to the beach for some fun because all the animals on the beach require paperwork. Can anyone help me out and give me a guide on how to obtain some information so he is valid?

Olettia Blevins

Hello. Bless you for helping. I have a monk parakeet. We want to travel to and from Alaska in our rv thru Canada. Iwe tried last year but didn’t get paperwork done.

Olettia Blevins
Moving a CITES I bird internationally? - BirdBoard.Com - Parrot Message Board & Pet Bird Owner Forums

[…] go-to person, but I remembered reading stuff about her traveling with her blue throat frequently: Obtaining CITES Permits for Your Parrots Jamieleigh's Parrot Help It IS possible, it's just basically expensive and a total pain. And, like Sodakat already […]

Moving a CITES I bird internationally? - BirdBoard.Com - Parrot Message Board & Pet Bird Owner Forums

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