Importing Seeds to the USA

As on January 28, 2011, as found on the USDA website at
smalllots_seed.shtml , here are the regulations regarding the
importation of Small Lots of Seed:  Small Lots of Seed

Lots of seed may be imported without a phytosanitary certificate
under the following conditions:

(1) The importation of the seed is authorized by a written permit
specifically for small lots of seed. Permits are usually valid for 3
years and cover multiple importations.

(2) The seed is not of any prohibited genus listed under 7 CFR
319.37-2; is not of any Federal noxious weed species; does not
require an additional declaration on a phytosanitary certificate;
does not require treatment; is not a parasitic plant; is not
genetically modified; is not pelleted, coated, or imbedded in
growing media, seed tape, cloth, or similar materials.

(3) If the seed is a field/agricultural crop or vegetable,
it meets the requirements of the Federal Seed Act import provisions
in 7 CFR 361.

(4) If the seed is regulated under the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or the Endangered Species Act,
it meets the additional requirements. 

(5) The seed meets the following packaging and shipping requirements:

(i) A typed or legibly printed seed list/invoice accompanies each
shipmen with the name of the collector/shipper, the botanical names
(at least to
genus, preferably to species level) listed alphabetically, as well
as the country of origin, and country shipped from, for each taxon.
Each seed packet is clearly labeled with the name of the
collector/shipper, the country of origin, and the scientific name at
least to the genus, and preferably to the species, level.
The invoice/seed list may provide a code for each lot, which may be
used on the seed packets in lieu of the full list of required
information. In this case, each packet must at least include the
appropriate code, which is referenced to the entry for that
packet on the seed list/invoice.
(ii) There are a maximum of 50 seeds of 1 taxon (taxonomic category
such as genus, species, cultivar, etc.) per packet; or a maximum
weight not to exceed 10 grams of seed of 1 taxon per packet;
(iii) There are a maximum of 50 seed packets per shipment;
(iv) The seeds are free from pesticides;
(v) The seeds are securely packaged in packets or envelopes and
sealed to prevent spillage [Note: we recommend that seeds are packed
in resealable, clear plastic envelopes to facilitate inspection];
(vi) The shipment is free from soil, plant material other than seed,
other foreign matter or debris, seeds in the fruit or seed pod, and
living organisms such as parasitic plants, pathogens, insects,
snails, mites; and

(vii) At the time of importation, the shipment is sent to an
approved port of entry listed in the permit

How to Apply for a Small Lots of Seed Permit: For fastest turn
around time, apply on-line at https://epermits.aphis. Alternately, use PPQ Form 587, Application for
Permit to Import Plants or Plant Products. On the first line of
section 3 of the application, enter “SMALL LOTS OF SEED PROGRAM”.
Starting on the second line, list the seed species and countries
from which you want to ship each species. If the list of species
is long, you may enter “eligible taxan”. By using this option, you
are accepting responsibility for determining the eligibility of the
seeds. The Permit Unit cannot tell you if the species are eligible
for importation if you do not list them. A permit is issued for
taxan that are admissible with no restrictions beyond the port of
entry inspection. If port of entry inspectors find prohibited or
restricted seeds in your shipment, they will seize and destroy the
ineligible kinds.

To determine the entry status of seed taxan, see (2) above and refer
to the Plant Protection and Quarantine Nursery Stock Manual’s
reference section.(Follow this link:
import_export /plants/manuals/ ports/index.shtml). Click on “Nursery
Stock Restrictions”, and then find the List of Regulated Propagative
Material starting on page 1-9 of the manual. Plants that are not
listed in this section are generally admissible and eligible for the
small lots of seed program. Plants that are listed in this section
are ineligible for the small lots of seed
program, with the following exceptions: 

•A taxon is eligible for the small lots of seed program if the
relevant manual entries exclude seeds (check entries at both the
genus and species levels and note family-level listings for
Cactaceae, Cycadaceae and Rutaceae).
•Species noted only as FSA-A or FSA-V in the “other requirements”
column are eligible, but must
meet the import provisions of the Federal Seed Act; i.e., the
labeling must include variety names for vegetable seeds and lot
numbers for both agricultural and vegetable seeds.
•Species noted only as CITES or ESA in the “other requirements”
column are eligible if accompanied by any required CITES or ESA
permits. Generally, seeds of both Threatened and Endangered plants
are regulated under the Endangered Species Act; however, the seeds
of Threatened plants are not regulated if they come from cultivated
plants. See:
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