We understand importing is a complex process involving multiple parties, interactions and touchpoints. Each step in the process relies on the parties involved to be highly connected.
We have partnered with the Commonwealth's Digital Transformation Office (DTO) to deliver a fast tracked digital transformation project to improve the trade process. This includes introducing new service standards to ensure our services are simpler, faster and easier for you to use.
One of the major issues for Industry that was identified through industry engagement was the requirement to physically present paper permits to shopfronts.
As a result, we have created an online permit validation service, initially for
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permits only.
The Permit Service captures government issued import permit information and will allow the Australian Border Force to assess permits electronically, which negates the presentation of paper permits. The Permit Service allows government departments to exchange information on the validity of CITES permits, creating a more efficient clearance process.
The permit validation system will:
- reduce the need for importers and customs brokers to attend shop fronts to lodge and retrieve their permits
- make clearance of restricted goods faster and simpler for importers and customs brokers
- enable permit issuing agencies to acquit their permits faster and more easily
- provide better information, more quickly, for permit issuing agencies to manage non-compliance, and perform risk management.
If you are an importer or broker, there are two changes to how you will interact with Australian Border Force in relation to CITES permits:
- CITES paper permits are no longer required to be presented to Australian Border Force for clearance purposes, however, CITES permits should continue to be returned to the Department of Environment as per current business practice.
- Importers and their brokers will need to answer two CITES related questions and input the appropriate CITES permit number and related quantities on entering the good/s.
Future expansion to other permits or parts of the service is being considered. Further updates will be provided as new developments are made.
How to clear your CITES goods
Below is a list of instructions on how to answer key questions we’ll ask in relation to your CITES permit:
- Answer YES at
Are These Goods Made Of, Or Contain, Cites Listed Species?
- Answer YES at
Simplifying Imports - Permit Project - Are These Goods Made Of, Or Contain, Cites Listed Species? Enter permit number and quantities.
- Retain the importer copy of the paper CITIES permit and return it to the Department of Environment as per usual practice. There is no need to present the permit to Australian Border Force.
If you have any questions or would like further information send an email to
Frequently Asked Questions
How will ABF check CITES permits?
Importers and their brokers are required to enter permit number and quantities against each line. ABF Officers will check and validate the permit number entered in the new Permit Service. The Department of Environment will then be able to reconcile the permits used.
How will Department of Environment know that we have lodged the CITES permit with ABF?
ABF Officers will check and validate permit numbers and quantities in the new Permit Service. The Department of Environment will then be able to reconcile their internal acquittal processes. If ABF Officers are not able to validate the permit number entered in ICS, you will be requested to provide further information.
What if I can’t fit the whole permit number in the permit number field?
CITES permits numbers contain 17 characters that made up of letters, digits and dashes. If your EDI software system allows less than 17 characters, ABF prefers that the dashes, slashes and spaces are left out and that all letters and digits are entered.
If an invalid or incorrect permit number is entered, ABF Officers may issue a Notice to Produce Documents (NPD) requesting further information or clarification and you may be required to amend the Declaration.
Software Developers are being contacted in order to rectify this issue.
What do I do if I can’t enter a permit number?
Contact your EDI software developer in the first instance. If the required change is unable to be made in the short term, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice.
Why don’t the CITES permits need to be stamped?
ABF Officers validating the permit in the new Permit Service replaces the need to stamp CITES paper permits.
Why do I still need to return the CITES permits to Department of Environment?
The Department of Environment still require the return of paper permits for their internal acquittal processes. Further information may be found at:
Where do I enter the export permit? Is it not required?
Overseas export permit numbers do not need to be entered on import declarations in ICS as they are listed on the Import Permit and this information is available to the ABF via the Permit Service.
Do I still need to provide commercial documents?
Only when requested by an ABF Officer. This will most likely be in cases where an ABF Officer cannot clear the CITES goods from the information supplied on the Declaration such as invalid permit numbers, goods quantities and descriptions. In these instances you may be requested to amend the Declaration.