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Joined: Nov 2006
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Recently I’ve received a couple of requests from forum friends (if I may) to send seeds from England, but hesitated as I was unsure of the laws for importing seeds to the USA. After some research, I have uncovered the following information, which I’m sure most of you are already aware of (and apologies if such guidance already appears elsewhere on this site), but which might be useful for those of us (like me!) who until now pottered around in blissful ignorance! Basically – I think it can be done, but there is a bit of paperwork involved!!

Importing seeds into the USA:Small Lots of seed Program

For some years, it has been necessary to send a Phytosanitary Certificate with all seeds imported into the USA. This regulation was put in place because of fears that species of plants not native to the United States might spread and displace native species and meant that it has been almost impossible for people in the United States to obtain seeds from other countries legally, which has been a serious difficulty for small seedhouses and specialist nurseries, as well as an inconvenience for ordinary gardeners who wished to exchange seeds with gardeners in other countries.
APHIS (the US Department responsible for Plant Health) have now relaxed these rules for the importation of small quantities of seed. It is no longer necessary to have such seed inspected and to obtain a Phytosanitary Certificate from the exporting country. Instead, the person in the US who wishes to import seeds on a small scale may now apply for an Import Permit which will allow them to bring seeds into the United States, subject to certain conditions. Details of how to obtain a Permit are on the APHIS website: www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/plant_imports/smalllots_seed.shtml

The Permit is free and valid for three years. During that time, a US resident may import any number of lots of up to 50 packets of seed (each packet containing not more than 50 seeds), provided they are packed and labelled according to the rules: seeds of species that are normally prohibited are not allowed into the US under the new Small Lots of seed Program. seeds must be completely cleaned of soil, chaff, husks, etc., and complete fruits and berries are not allowed in under the new rules.
The procedure is as follows:
(a) The importer (in the US) will obtain a Small Lots of seed Permit;
(b) The importer will send a copy of the Permit, plus a special label addressed to an Inspection Station in the US, plus a self-addressed label, to the exporter (outside the US), whether it is a company, a society or an individual;
(c) The exporter (outside the US) will send the seeds, packed and labelled as required, to the Inspection Station, using the label supplied, together with the copy of the Permit, a list of the seeds enclosed, and the label addressed to the importer (in the US);
(d) The seeds will be checked at the Inspection Station and forwarded to the intended recipient.

Jiffymouse
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Jiffymouse
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starfish, i didn't know all that, and you have provided a valuable service to us! thank you!

Joined: Sep 2006
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Starfish, I have done this with bulbs and it works very well. I even received email from the person who inspected my package, letting me know it was on its way. I did have some confusion on figuring out where my bulbs would head -- to New York or Florida and found out they were to go to Florida.





PG
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Hi PG - Yes, it does seem to be a sensible and pragmatic scheme - there is also a checklist of questions to help make sure you do things the right way (preparation, packing, technical etc) as well as some standard labels that you should use


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