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  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Sending/Receiving seeds from outside US
  • Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 09:11:23 EDT

In a message dated 8/30/2007 11:10:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

My question is, is it legal for United States citizens to receive seeds from
outside the U.S., through the mail?  I remember somebody posting an article
sometime back about a man who brought in some citrus scionwood from the
Orient in a suitcase and it was illegal (It turned out the wood had some
terrible disease and the guy was in big trouble).  Do seeds have to go
through customs?  Is there some agency that has to check them for diseases?
I know they are generally safer than scionwood, but still as I understand,
some diseases like plum pox can be communicated through seeds.

Also can I legally send some of my seeds outside the U.S. via the postal

Hi Mark,

Yes, all incoming seeds must be inspected by the US Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). There are some few exceptions. First you must obtain an import permit from APHIS. Then the seeds go directly to APHIS with their Green and Yellow shipping label.
If the material passes if is forwarded to you for two years of quarantine growing, meaning you can't share the material with others for two years. You state inspector as the option to inspect the plants if they desire. Some material such as Prunus bud wood must be grown in quarantine by the USDA in screened rooms at Beltsville, MD. I've had material there for as long as 4 years before it was passed out clean. Infected material is incinerated.

One exception is pre inspected material that is packaged for importation into the US. Usually by large seed companies. Private individuals overseas and Canada usually aren't pre inspected.

Can you legally send material overseas?
Generally no, as I understand it. That all depends on agreements between the countries. If you ship a package out of the country the post office and other shippers will have you fill out a declarations form. If certain material and to particular countries, the carriers refuse to accept it. FedEx, UPS and USPS sticks strictly to the rules. But a foreign country can't prosecute you for trying, I don't think.

There are some exceptions to what I've written, If you really want to import seeds contact me off line and I'll put you in contact with the proper APHIS person to apply for an import permit. You also will need a letter from your local state entomologist approving the importation and they counter sign your application. APHIS will work with you, they are wonderful understanding folks but you have to jump through hoops. They are paid with tax $$$ and are our servants.  


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