Service Proposes Trade Protections for Four Native Freshwater Turtles

Photo Credit: Bob Gutowski,

On October 29, 2014, the Service announced a proposed rule to list four additional native freshwater turtle species in Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), opening a 60-day public comment period that closed on December 29, 2014. The Service received 75 public comments in response. We are currently reviewing those comments to determine whether modifications to the proposed rule are necessary. After we complete our review, a final rule will be published in the Federal Register.

For more information, please refer to the press release and Q&As

Click here to read the proposed rule. 


In June, 2006, the United States listed the alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temminckii) and all species of map turtle (Graptemys spp.) in Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  A large number of tortoises and freshwater turtles are listed in CITES Appendices I and II, and all marine turtles are listed in Appendix I. Including the turtles listed by the United States, there are a total of 22 freshwater turtle species listed in Appendix III.  Once a species is listed under CITES, any international trade in the species, either as live specimens or parts or products, must be accompanied by a valid CITES permit or certificate.



Although many map turtle species and the alligator snapping turtle are regularly farmed or produced in captivity in the United States, those farmed turtles, and any parts or products from them, are also covered by the Appendix III listing and CITES documentation requirements apply. Domestic trade in these species is not regulated under Federal law. CITES requirements only apply when the species are being exported, imported, or re-exported across international borders.

For more information on the 2006 Appendix III listings, read the Federal Register Notices and CITES Notification listed below.

Federal Register Notice, January 26, 2000 Proposed Rule 
Federal Register Notice, December 16, 2005 Final Rule 
CITES Notification No. 2006/019: Appendix III, March 16, 2006 Notification pdf

Import Procedures

The importation of a listed species without the appropriate import or export documents might result in the seizure of the turtle. The importation of Appendix I turtles will require both an import permit from the U.S. Management Authority and an export permit from the foreign Management Authority.  In this case, you should submit application form 3-200-37 pdf to the U.S. Management Authority and contact the foreign Management Authority in order to comply with their requirements.

If you plan to import Appendix II or Appendix III turtles, no import permit is needed but an export permit or certificate is required. You must follow the general CITES permit requirements for import/export pdf and any applicable Service Law Enforcement requirements for Appendix II and III species.  You should also contact the foreign Management Authority in order to comply with their requirements.

U.S. Appendix III Species: Export Procedures

The Division of Management Authority (DMA) has established a two-tiered approach to permit issuance for the export of Appendix-III native turtle specimens. Turtles derived from State-registered or recognized production facilities (i.e., “farms”) that are being exported after hatching (2 inches or less for map turtles and 3 inches or less for alligator snapping turtles, measuring the straight line of their carapace) can be handled in an expedited manner. This consists of establishing a “Master file,” with multiple single-use permits issued off of that file. Other specimens that are either removed directly from the wild or are being exported  after hatching will be handled on a permit-by-permit basis.

If, after reading the following discussion, you are unclear about which approach applies to you or your operation, please feel free to contact us.

“Farm” Production
Based on information obtained from State agencies and public information on how farms produce and export turtles, the DMA has established a permitting process to facilitate quick turnaround time between the hatching of turtles and their export. Given that farms are exporting turtles within days of hatching, the DMA recognizes the typical permit process of applying for an export permit after the specimens have been born does not meet the circumstance of export for Appendix-III turtles coming from these farm operations. Therefore, we recommend that these types of production facilities establish an annual “Master file.” The facility, following the Appendix III procedure provided, first submits application form 3-200-75 pdf to establish a Master File. Once the Master file is established, the DMA issues a number of partially completed export permits that allow the farm to export specimens within days of the turtles hatching. For detailed instructions on how to complete Form 3-200-75, please click here.  

Commercial Dealers, Zoological and Other Exports
As stated above, the DMA has established a two-tiered approach to handling the issuance of export permits for Appendix-III turtles. Facilities that are exporting turtles directly from their farms can use the expedited process described above. All other exports must use the Appendix III procedure provided. Upon completion of your application and approval by the DMA, a single permit will be issued authorizing the export of specifically identified specimens. This is the same procedure that the DMA follows for the export of wild-caught and captive-bred specimens of other reptile species.

  • If you are exporting turtles that are bred in captivity but do not fit the criteria to establish a "Master File", then you should submit application form 3-200-24 pdf.
  • If you are exporting turtles removed from the wild, then submit application form 3-200-27 pdf. For detailed instructions on how to complete Form 3-200-27, please click here.  
  • Individuals who are relocating to a foreign country and wish to export a personal pet should use application form 3-200-46 pdf.
  • If you are a frequent traveler who will be maintaining your primary residence in the United States then you should submit 3-200-64 pdf, “Certificate of Ownership for Personal Owned Wildlife.”
  • If you intend to export an Appendix-I, or ESA listed turtle for zoological or scientific purposes, then you must submit application form 3-200-37 pdf.

For information on contacting your local FWS management office, click here.

For general information on CITES permit requirements, click here pdf.



Document or Website

General Information

Appendix III

Appendix-III Fact Sheet pdf


Permits and Certificates Fact Sheet pdf

Permit Information – “Farm” Production

Establishing an Annual Master File

Application Form and Instructions

Export Permits issued off an Annual Master File

Application Form and Instructions

Permit Information – Commercial Dealers, Zoological, and Other Exports

Single Permit Issuance

Application Form and Instructions

To contact the U.S. Division of Management Authority, click here.

To find the contact information for a foreign Management Authority, click here.

If, after reading this information, you are unclear about the permitting process, please feel free to contact us.