Interesting information ...

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

I found out a great deal of import/export information today through the USDA export specialist. He called me back as he had promised with import information and I asked him about a lot of things concerning plants and seeds.

Plants are pretty much prohibited. Seeds are usually ok to send to/receive from most countries. You can easily get an import permit for foreign cyberfriends to send you seeds. Export seemed to be another thing. I told him that I have witnessed a lot of seed trading going on internationally online. And I quoted to him the comment made to me when I inquired about it from another online trader ...

"The general drift I get is to send the seeds openly (don't try to smuggle them in some other item you are sending) and label them accurately and visibly with the botanical name. Generally, if the seeds are not allowed in a certain state or country, they are simply confiscated, and that seems to be the end of it. I'm not aware of any prosecutions for sending seeds to a destination that doesn't allow them."

And I also mentioned about the faq question & answer on the USDA website:

"Are Phytosanitary Certificates mandatory?

Phytosanitary certificates are not mandatory to export plants and plant products from the United States. The certificates are issued to assist exporters in meeting the plant quarantine requirements of the importing country. "

He said that is true. We can indeed send seeds abroad and they will be checked if package is marked "seeds". I think with most packages there is not a problem and they are sent on to the addressee, as long as the seeds are not prohibited in that country or infected. But the seeds must be packaged correctly or they will automatically get confiscated. So do read carefully how to package each species/cultivar of seeds. He said this would be the back-up plan if we didn't want to purchase a Phytosanitary Certificate per shipment. I think that the seeds are just eye-balled and sent on even with a Phytosanitary Certificate. I asked him about turn around time and he said they are usually in and out of there in 48 hours. So they don't hold them for a long time.

Nothing was mentioned about a fine or penalty. So I don't think they prosecute unless there is a real reason too. Perhaps by someone smuggling in rare or prohibited or protected plant seeds.

He also mentioned that if someone mislabeled a seed pack with another species name, that the seeds would be removed from the shipment. And they would then send the rest of the seeds on to the addressee. So they check the seeds for mislabeled seeds, prohibited seeds, disease, and pests. If all looks good, then they send them on to the addressee. And that is it in a nutshell. (No pun intended!)

I think they prefer folks pay for those Phytosanitary Certificates, but they are NOT mandatory, so most folks don't. Large seed shipments probably have one if they are commercial seed companies, but small time seed traders like us don't bother as they are expensive here in the USA ($42 per shipment currently). And he said that the Phytosanitary Certificate doesn't insure that the seeds can't still be confiscated and destroyed by the receiving country's customs department.

So the advice given to me by a trader, is probably the correct attitude and approach to take concerning sending and receiving seeds: "The general drift I get is to send the seeds openly (don't try to smuggle them in some other item you are sending) and label them accurately and visibly with the botanical name. Generally, if the seeds are not allowed in a certain state or country, they are simply confiscated, and that seems to be the end of it. I'm not aware of any prosecutions for sending seeds to a destination that doesn't allow them."

I plan to get an import permit and will continue to trade seeds as usual.

Here are some useful links:

Import permit for "Small Lots of Seeds Program", The permit is free and good for 3 years! :
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/permits/downloads/forms/ppqform587.pdf

Additional information about exporting seeds:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/plant_exports/index.shtml

Additional information about importing seeds:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/plant_imports/index.shtml

And here is a GREAT U.K. website link explaining in layman's lingo how the "Small Lots of Seed Program" works:
http://theseedsite.co.uk/aphisfaq.html#17

I hope this is helpful to everyone who had some concerns or wanted to know.

Tokyo, Japan(Zone 10a)

This pretty much is the outcome of my research into this subject. It is out there for all to see if you can be bothered to do the work and find it.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks, Jon!

I do know that some countries such as Australia are very strict and DO prosecute, so best to keep that in mind. If you want to know which countries, you can call or email the USDA.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.
BACK TO TOP