image001WS AntiquesThe trade in Antique taxidermy specimens is a big market. Auction houses and private collectors are trading daily. When it comes to legal matters, most people think that as its an antique they needn't bother with the regulations. This could be a big mistake.

When dealing with specimens listed on Annex "A" of EC Regs 338/97 (and that includes CITES species such as Big Cats*; Elephant*, Rhino*, Sawfish (rostrums), Brazilian Rosewood etc as well as the majority of Birds of Prey and Owls) - as far as trade within the E.U. is concerned an "antique" (that which is exempt from licensing restrictions) must be a worked item which originated from before 3/03/1947. Also it cannot have been reworked since that date. - in other words it must be original and unaltered since that date. By worked item it is meant that the specimen has significantly altered from its original state. A piece of taxidermy has obviously altered from its original state - it has been worked (modeled). A raw Rhino horn or Elephant tusk however has not been worked and cannot be traded in. * See "Stricter measures" below .

An example of a re-worked specimen would be antique Cabinet specimen (those scientific specimens that are stored in Museum draws and have a stick protruding from the tail). That then is the original mount and if pre 1947 would be exempt from Article 10 licenses. If this specimen was relaxed and mounted in a lifelike pose after 1947, this would constitute a re-worked item and require a licence.  Another common example involve Ivory billiard balls - these frequently occur in trade having been re-worked into umbrella or walking stick handles/heads. Where such items have been reworked, they will no longer meet the derogation and would therefore require a sales licence (A10) under Art 8.3 in order to be legally sold.

An item can be renovated without effecting its antique status - this comes under maintenance. Skins with mounted heads commonly have broken teeth, tears in the skin or need to be re backed. Providing the repair is done without the use of another CITES species (don't use modern tiger skin to patch an old one) it is OK. It will remain unaltered. Another more common situation is where an antique cased specimen is removed from its case - due to the condition of the case (woodworm; total collapse etc). This is also fine and the specimen can even be re cased - it is not changing the actual specimen - it still remains unaltered.

Common sense however does not always prevail - One situation arose whereby an antique Tiger skin rug with mounted head, had due to years of wear and tear, lost its rug part. The owner had cut off the offending skin leaving just the head. According to DEFRA's interpretation of the law, this constituted a change to its original status - it had been re-worked. When mentioning this to one CPS officer, he admitted that if such a case landed on his desk, it would go straight into the bin - another may view it differently.

The other problem people forget about is that you need evidence that the item is prior to 1947. If you cannot prove or satisfy questions asked as to its provenance - a licence may be required. It is here that you may need the assistance of A Guild of Taxidermists Approved Taxidermy Inspector. (Contact details are available on this web site).


When dealing with species listed WCA Schedule 5, such as Pine Marten & Red Squirrelonly - a  General Licence WML Gen-L020 has been issued with effect 01/01/2008 allowing the sale without further licence (England & Wales only). Another General Licence WML GL19 has been issued to cover the sale of Common Frog; Common Toad; Palmate Newt & Smooth Newt **.  Certain other species however, such as some UK Reptiles; butterflies etc may still require an individual licence -esp. if collected after 1981 - therefore a case of butterflies inc; Large Blue; High Brown Fritillary; Swallowtail etc mounted in 1983 will still require a Schedule 5 Licence to sell. Items that originate prior to 1981 can be sold under a new CLASS licence (CL07) where the seller must simply register with Natural England - this will then cover you for future sales of pre 1981 specimens.(See also HABITATS regulation under VARIOUS REGULATIONS for details on UK Bats; Dormouse; Otter & Scottish Wild Cat)

** Licence WML GL19 among others are to be altered in late spring 2015 as a result of a recent public consultation.

Collectors of antique specimens often prefer named cases and high prices can be paid for specimens mounted by the likes of Rowland Ward & Co., Peter Spicer & Son, Van Ingen, Gunn, Cooper etc etc - but it has got to be remembered that some of these firms continued in business after 1947. Just because it is a Van Ingen, does not automatically exempt it from licensing.

We at Taxidermylaw hold a list of hundreds of taxidermy companies going way back into the "Victorian" era - by checking when a particular firm ceased business, we can advise what is safe to trade and what may require licenses. With those companies such as Van Ingen and Wards, we can often date the specimen to within a few years or even months. If you join our membership a comprehensive list of taxidermists is given on the members pages - see "About the Guild of Taxidermists".

International trade in antique specimens (trade outside of the E.U.) will require Export and Import licence's if listed as a CITES species. Even if the specimen was mounted in 1850 - it would still require Import/Export licence. So when trading internationally you can forget 1947 as a cut off date.

The trade in taxidermy specimens in the UK is governed by two main regulations. Each regulation, depending on what species you are trading in, has it own set of criteria.

Worked or un-worked - that is the question.

This whole situation is at present a bit of a joke - the last review (April 2013) to come out of the EU was a guide for Management Authorities only and not for public display. DEFRA in their wisdom published some of these new guidelines but withdrew them from their website 4 months later as they were so confusing.  So, although some examples given in this list are still up for discussion, the consensus on what is and what is not a worked item is as follows:-

Articulated or dis-articulated skeleton of Tiger with wired joints and mounted: = NOT Worked:

Unworked Rhino horn or those mounted on wooden plaque/shield for wall mounting = NOT Worked

Whales teeth - uncarved = NOT Worked

Whale teeth with scrimshaw = Worked

Marine Turtle Shell, polished & ready for wall mounting = NOT Worked:

Whole marine Turtle with head; legs and shell = Worked

Whole uncarved single Elephant tusk/ whole polished Elephant tusk = NOT Worked

Tusks must be carved the whole length to be classified as worked - as to how much of the tusk is carved is still open to interpretation. The Regulations say the complete surface must be engraved - that, if you think about it carefully, is almost impossible.  So buy with care

Broom made with Elephant Hair = Worked

This means that pre 1947 items that are not worked will require sales licenses (Article 10's) - however species such as Elephant and Rhino are subject to "Stricter measures" (see below) and sales licenses will not be issued for "raw" or "un-worked" specimens.


Stricter Measures.

Species covered by UK stricter measures policy.

Tiger (Panthera tigris); Bear bile, paws and gall bladders (Ursidae); Rhino Horn (Rhinocerotidae)

Species for which there are other special measures

African Elephant tusks (Loxodonta africanus); Primates (All species); Seals; Mother of Pearl; Bird's Eggs:

 African Elephant Tusks

  • Import and Export

The UK along with other CITES member states still considers the international trade in elephant products, including raw tusks, as a significant threat to the conservation of the species and as such the international commercial trade in raw ivory is banned until a CITES Conference agrees a specific proposal to permit it.

  • Commercial use

On the grounds that internal EU trade in raw ivory tusks would be inconsistent with the aim of preventing international trade, all applications for Article 10 Certificates for raw ivory tusks will be refused until a CITES Conference agrees a specific proposal to permit it.

Antique worked specimens are covered by antiques derogation and may be used commercially without a certificate.


There are no stricter measures for primates under CITES. Applications will be processed in the usual way but a letter will be enclosed with any CITES licences advising applicants that the Balai Directive and Rabies restrictions may apply.

Further information about the Balai Directive can be obtained from the Defra website or from your local Animal Health Office. If the final destination is another EU member state the Balai query should be directed to the Management Authority in that state.

  • Import/Export

CITES regulations require importers to ensure that the accommodation and facilities provided are suitably equipped to conserve and care properly for any imported live Annex A specimen(s).

Rabies susceptible animals require specific licence under Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and Other Mammals) Order 1974. Any enquiries should be sent to Rabies Import Division: Also, animals will be required to undergo 6 months post-arrival quarantine.

  • Commercial use

Specimens moved within the UK may be subject to the Balai Directive. Applicants are advised to check whether any provisions of the Balai Directive apply before moving it from its current location.

If the specimen is to be moved outside of the UK applicants must apply to their local Animal Health Office for a health certificate.

Applicants are reminded of the obligation under Article 9 of 338/97. This states that:

  • live Annex A specimens which have a movement restriction indicated in box 6 may only be moved within the Community if an Article 10 is issued (except for urgent medical treatment). This is to ensure that the intended accommodation is adequately equipped to conserve and care for it properly.
  • live Annex B specimens may only be moved after the holder ensures that the intended recipient is adequately informed of the accommodation, equipment and practices required to ensure the specimen will be properly cared for.

Antique worked specimens are covered by the antiques derogation and may be used commercially without a certificate.


  • Import/Export

The commercial importation of skins and seal skin products of ‘whitecoat’ pups of harp seals (Phoca (Pagophilus) groenlandicus) and ‘blueback’ pups of hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) is banned. A 'whitecoat' is a harp seal pup up to approximatelytwo and a halfweeks old before it sheds its white fur coat. A 'blueback' is a hooded seal pup up to the age of about 16 months old. The only exception is for products resulting from traditional hunting by the Inuit people.

  • Commercial use

No extra controls.


  • Import/Export

The commercial trade in dead tiger parts and derivatives, and live wild taken specimens is banned.

Applications will be considered for worked antiques and captive bred specimens - but don't hold your breath. Applications for live specimens, must contain full details of their destination and intended use.

  • Commercial use

The sale of live wild taken specimens is banned. Applications for the sale of live captive bred specimens will be refused except where the specimen is to be used for conservation purposes. Full details of the destination and intended use of the animal must be provided.

Antiques: the sale of tiger parts and derivatives is banned unless it is covered by the antique derogation.

Bear bile, paws & gall bladders

  • Import/Export & Commercial use

Commercial trade in bear bile, paws or gall bladders is banned (irrespective of whether or not they come from captive bred specimens), on the grounds that it is difficult to tell illegally acquired wild taken specimens from captive bred specimens and this trade may contribute to the unsustainable exploitation of the species.

Rhino Horn

  • Import and Export

Worked antiques are allowed in trade, but applications for un-worked horn (recent or antique) will be refused. Applications for other purposes will be considered on their merits.

All Rhinoceros species are listed on Appendix I. Within Europe all species are listed on Annex A except the South African population of White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simium simium) which is listed on Annex B. However only legally acquired live animals and hunting trophies may be imported or exported.

  • Commercial use

The commercial use of un-worked rhino horn is banned within the UK, and any applications will be refused. Hunting trophies may not be sold after importation.

Antique worked specimens are covered by antiques derogation and may be used commercially without a certificate.

NB - A recent announcement states - " Antiques made from or including Rhino horn may now be offered for sale in the UK without prior approval from the UK CITES Management Authority.  - More deatils from UK CITES management or Members pages.

Mother of Pearl

Mother of Pearl is the definition used for the white inlay of any shell. The EU interpretation of CITES is that controls only apply to Mother of Pearl known to have come from a CITES listed species.

  • Import and Export

Exporters should check with the management authority of the country of import before proceeding, as their interpretation of the law may differ.

Importers should check with the MA in the country of export. If no export permit is issued because the specimen is not identifiable no permit is required from the UK Management Authority. However, please note if the other MA requires a permit, we would only consider an application if it was made for a controlled species (with the species name).

  • Commercial use

Certificates are not required for Mother of Pearl unless it is known to come from a CITES listed species (for the same reasons as above).

Birds Eggs – Native British Species

There are no stricter measures for Birds under CITES however we have a policy not issuing a licence for specimens which cannot meet the requirements of the Birds Directive.

  • Commercial use

In addition to the CITES controls, the eggs of native European birds are also protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and may not be sold unless a licence has been issued under section 16(4) of, that Act. These licences are issued as appropriate by Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Countryside Commission for Wales.
We have agreed with these licensing authorities that licences will only be issued if it is possible to meet the requirements of both CITES and the 1981 Act.

Applications to sell eggs in Scotland or Wales should be referred to the devolved administrations and their issued licence presented with the CITES application.

Applications for CITES certificates to sell eggs from native birds will not be considered unless a licence has been previously issued by Natural England or the devolved administrations. This licence should be presented with the Article 10 application. In addition to the normal statutory requirements, for an Article 10 Certificate to be issued we have a policy that the egg be should be marked, preferably with a microchip transponder encased in resin in the egg or with permanent indelible ink. Where available, applicants should use the Article 10 number of the parent bird as a reference number on the egg.

Applications made for other commercial purposes, for example commercial display, will be considered on their merits. The policy on marking requirements will still apply, but no Wildlife and Countryside Act licence is required.

Where specimens are moved for commercial purposes from another EU Member State you will need an Article 10 Certificate from the other Member State. In addition to this, if you wish to sell the eggs then you should make an application to Natural England or the devolved authorities for a licence, which should be issued before any subsequent Article 10 Certificate allowing sale in the UK is considered.

In all cases, documentary evidence of legal acquisition will be required regardless of the purpose for which you have the eggs.

  • Exports

Where eggs of native bird species are to be exported for commercial purposes, no Wildlife and Countryside Act licence is required before a CITES export permit is issued.

  • Imports

Applications to import an egg from a CITES listed bird species, which is also a native species, for non-commercial purposes will be considered on their merits.

Applicants wishing to import a specimen where the end use is sale, should first approach Natural England or the deveolved authorities for a Wildlife and Countryside Act licence before applying for a CITES certifiacte. The above marking requirements apply.


Disclamer: This company or individual cannot accept any responsibility for information given that is either misinterpreted by the author or the recipient and which is based either on experience gained or a matter of law where the precedence is yet to be decided by a court of law. Any information or guidence given is purely an opinion, therefore it is recommended that accredited legal advise is sought where appropriate.

© 2016 Taxidermy Law