Soil is strictly controlled under APHIS quarantine regulations 7 CFR 330 because it can readily provide a pathway for the introduction of a variety of dangerous organisms into the United States.
Importation of soil into the United States from foreign sources is prohibited, and movement within the continental U.S. is restricted unless authorized by APHIS under specific conditions, safeguards and controlled circumstances described in a permit and/or compliance agreement.
Frequently Asked Questions
The importation and movement of untreated soil is considered by APHIS to be an extremely high risk activity. For this reason, several levels of review and approval are required before a permit can be provided. For more information, view soil permit process.
This web page contains information related to hand-carry conditions for all authorized soil hand carry events.
A permit can be issued by the Permit Unit usually within 2 weeks if the applicant has requested an authorization for less than three pounds of soil (per shipment), and the soil can be heat sterilized by PPQ at ports with appropriate facilities.
Soil which cannot be treated at the port of entry may be authorized for movement to a facility approved in advance and authorized under a permit issued by PPQ. Specific safeguard provisions are described in the permit and also in a compliance agreement with the facility.
Soil from Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is handled as foreign soil and is authorized movement into the continental U.S. under the provisions described for foreign soil.
Soil cannot enter the U.S. if from the following areas:
Soil from other parts of Canada imported into the U.S. is subject only to inspection and verification of the origin.
This is the updated list of facilities inspected by USDA-APHIS to receive foreign and interstate (domestic) soil samples. This list supersedes all previous lists. Facilities inspected to receive foreign soil samples must obtain a soil permit and sign a compliance agreement. The compliance agreement also authorizes the facility to receive domestic shipments. Facilities inspected to receive foreign soil samples have the permit expiration date in parenthesis following the name and address. Facilities shown without a date or with an asterisk are authorized to receive domestic soil only. Soil received by an inspected facility may not be re-shipped to any other facility unless the destination facility is shown in this list as eligible to receive that type of soil.
Last Modified: May 9, 2012