Exotic Pet Laws


If you buy exotic animals you may be contributing to the illegal wildlife trade.

The illegal wildlife trade results in millions of deaths every year and threatens wild populations of animals worldwide. Consider your decision carefully and do thorough research regarding the actual source of your pet.
Do not catch or keep native animals.

Native wildlife is protected under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170).
If you find a wild animal in need of help,
please call our 24 hour Inspector hotline at 2711 1000

Do I need a license to keep exotic pets?

Maybe, especially if your pet is listed under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

CITES is an agreement between more than one hundred countries to regulate the trade of threatened and endangered animals to protect them from extinction.

Hong Kong is a signatory of CITES. 

Is your pet listed under CITES?

Check here.

There are three main CITES appendices:

CITES I Species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. Commercial trade in specimens of these species is prohibited, unless they are captive bred by a CITES licensed breeding operation.

CITES II Species which may be threatened with extinction unless trade is controlled. Their trade is allowed but subject to licensing controls. Most species of parrots and all tortoises fall in this category.

CITES III Species included at the request of a country that already regulates trade in the species and that needs the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation.

The Green Iguana is listed under CITES Appendix IIThe Green Iguana is listed under CITES Appendix II


To Legally own a CITES I and CITES II animal in Hong Kong

Non-captive bred/wild caught animals

Owners will need to to apply for a possession license from the AFCD.  To do this, you will need a copy of the original CITES import permit from a licensed pet shop, as well as a receipt from the pet shop listing the species and number of animals you bought and the date of purchase. 

It is best to check what documents you will need BEFORE you acquire a CITES listed animal. Buy only from a licensed source that can give you a copy of the actual CITES import permit or give you documentary proof that your pet has been captive bred. Make sure you have an official, dated receipt.

Captive bred animals 

No possession license is required for animals listed if you can provide documentary proof that the animal has been captive bred. It is important that you obtain the original document or a copy and a receipt from the pet shop listing the species, number and date of purchase.

CITES I animals may be subject to additional control, so please check with the AFCD.

CITES species are listed in the Protection of Endangered Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586)
Their illegal possession can result in a maximum fine of HK$5 million and a prison term of 2 years.

If you are bringing in a CITES listed animal from overseas

You will require a CITES export permit from the country of origin in order to apply for an CITES import permit into Hong Kong. Enquire with AFCD for full details.

Licensing requirements

Licensing requirements and contact information for the AFCD can be found here


Please note that a species status under CITES can change from year to year (e.g. moving from CITES III to CITES II). You might be required to acquire a possession license from the AFCD if your pet becomes listed under CITES I and II.