How to Import Seeds and Plants


In the United States, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for overseeing all imported plants and seeds into the U.S. According to APHIS regulations, some seeds may be imported by simply obtaining a permit, while other seeds as well as plants will require a phytosanitary certificate. Find out which kind of permit or certification pertains to the material to be imported and proceed. If everything is in order the procedure can move quickly and easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet
  • APHIS permit

Importing Small Seed Orders

Obtain a Small Lots of Seed permit (see references) from the APHIS to import small amounts of seed (up to 50 packets of seed with not more than 50 seeds in each packet).

Send a copy of the permit along with a special label addressed to the U.S. Inspection Station. Include a self-addressed label for the exporter. (A list of USDA Plant Inspection Stations can be found on the "importing plants" reference at the bottom of this page.)

Accept receipt of the seeds after they have been inspected at the U.S. Inspection Station--the Inspection Station will forward the seeds on to the recipient.

Importing Plants and Large Seed Orders

Research which plants can be imported into the U.S. Make sure that all necessary regulations regarding each plant species are adhered to (see references below for the list of U.S. Federal Regulations regarding the importing of plant species).

Obtain a phytosanitary certificate of inspection for the plant material that is intended for import. This certificate must be issued by the national plant protection service of the country where the plant material will be exported from. This certificate is necessary for importing plants and large orders of seeds.

Notify the Plant Protection and Quarantine Program at the Inspection Station of the U.S. Custom Authority (see references) of the arrival of the plant or seed order. This can be done through a customs entry document, a manifest, a commercial invoice or waybill, a broker's document, or a notice form.

Release the plant or seeds once the inspectors have ascertained that all necessary regulations are completed.

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