All but two parrot species are protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), an international agreement between governments. About 40 species considered to be endangered are listed on CITES Appendix I which prohibits all commercial trade in species on that list. Virtually all other parrots are listed on Appendix II of CITES which regulates commercial trade through a permit system.
CITES does not regulate trade in the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulates) and the cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus)) which are commonly bred in captivity.
Most Appendix I parrot species are also listed as "endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and are prohibited from both interstate and international trade. In addition, the U.S. Lacey Act as amended in 1981, makes it illegal to import species that are protected from trade in their country of origin.
U.S. import regulations also require a 30-day quarantine of all parrot species at government-approved stations to screen for health problems and to protect native birds and poultry from 2 very contagious diseases: psittacosis and exotic Newcastle disease (VVND).
In 1992, the U.S. government adopted the Wild Bird Conservation Act, which prohibits the commercial import of almost all wild parrots for their pet trade, except from countries which approved management and conservation programs, and from approved captive breeding facilities.
Since passage of the Wild Bird Conservation Act, U.S. imports of parrots decreased substantially. Non-CITES bird species dominate the import trade. In the past, the vast majority of parrots imported in the United States came from wild populations. Depending on the species, mortality suffered during capture, transit and quarantine can range from 5 to 80 percent. Because large parrots such as macaws and cockatoos do not produce large number of offsprings and cannot rebuild their wild populations quickly, excessive trade for some species has been devastating. In addition, many of the most sought after species are also the most threatened. Many parrot species are naturally rare in the wild and are especially vulnerable to excessive capture for trade.
The illicit trade in parrots involves both smuggling and laundering or falsification of shipping documents. Sometimes smuggled out of countries like Australia, Brazil, or Ghana that restrict their export, parrots are brought into nearby trade centers, such as Singapore, Argentina, or the Ivory Coast where export is allowed and where falsified permits can sometimes be obtained.
Nearly 29% of the world's parrot species are listed by the IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (The World Conservation Union), the world's largest and most important conservation network) as threatened with extinction (Critical, Endangered or Vulnerable categories), making this one of the most threatened families of birds. Nearly half of the threatened parrot species are affected by trade compared with only 13% of traded finches.
Most parrots are threatened by a combination of trade and habitat destruction.