Legislation relating to tortoises

Several regulatory statutes apply to tortoises. To facilitate compliance and understanding, we consider three main criteria:

  • The level of danger of the species
  • The protection status of the species
  • Possession of the species


The level of danger of the species

Some species are considered dangerous and are the subject of specific provisions, such as compulsory marked warnings: in particular, species of adult age whose width of mouth is greater than or equal to 4 centimetres and belonging to certain families of tortoises.

The protection status of the species

Tortoises, like all other reptile species, are subject to protective measures and regulations. There are three types of regulated protection:

  • International
  • European
  • National


The Washington Convention (CITES) regulates international trade in wild species threatened with extinction. This convention applies to both animal and plant species, as well as to their derivatives (skin, dried leaves, teeth, tusks, etc.). The species are listed in three Annexes (I, II, and III) according to their degree of protection.


The CITES regulation is translated into European law. The European Regulations list the species in four Annexes (A, B, C and D) according to their degree of protection.
The advantage of the European Regulation is that it provides a reminder of the CITES appendices and means that reading of the Washington Convention is no longer compulsory. Thus, a species included in the European Regulation in ‘II B’ is listed in Appendix II of CITES, and in Annex B of the European Regulation.


Some species of tortoise are fully protected within the French national territory and in French Guyana by extension.

Possession of the species

Tortoises are not pets, but wild animals. Their possession in captivity is subject to very strict regulations.

Any specimen purchased must be sold with an invoice, transfer document and accompanying documents (CITES Documents, trade and health certificates, electronic declaration of transportation and licensing, etc.). See the FFEPT article: http://www.ffept.org/pdf/doc-accompagnement-tortues.pdf

These different documents are essential because they ensure that your pet does not come from illegal trade or taken or poached from the wild.

The number of specimens that an individual can legally own is 6. In addition, it is essential to successfully pass the Certificate of Capacity.