A PPQ 526 plant pest permit is required for the importation or interstate movement of mollusks that feed upon or infest plants or plant products. USDA permits are issued under the authority of 7 CFR 330. USDA may permit the interstate movement of snails or slugs for research purposes, educational use in classrooms, display in zoos as well as the importation for research and aquatic hobby trade. Authorization depends upon factors such as the risk the species poses if released to the environment, the level of containment at the research facility and the risk of contaminants during importation.
Live snails or slugs moved under the authority of PPQ Plant Pest Permits must not be released into the environment.
Snails in the genus Achatina ( e.g., Achatina fulica, the Giant African Snail), are specifically prohibited for both interstate movement and importation into the United States. The Giant African Snail poses a threat to both humans and plants. This snail species group is not only strictly prohibited from entering the United States but is safeguarded when discovered. For more information related to this risk, see the following:
Decollate snails ( Rumina decollata) and aquatic snails in the family Ampullaridae ( e.g., Pomacea canaliculata, channeled apple snail),with one exception, may not be imported or moved interstate except for research purposes into an APHIS inspected containment facility. One species complex in the family Ampullaridae, Pomacea bridgesii ( diffusa) may move interstate without a permit because these snails are not known to be agricultural pests but are primarily algae feeders. An import permit is required for aquatic snails in order to verify species and examine shipments for contaminants that are agricultural pests. Diseased snails that carry or vector human or livestock diseases may be imported with only a CDC permit (Centers for Disease Control).
Live snails cannot be imported into the United States for human consumption. Cooked, frozen or otherwise processed snails may be imported for this purpose. USDA does not require permits for dead snails or slugs. Under 7 CFR 330.200, “biological specimens of plant pests, in preservative or dried, may be imported without further restriction under this part, but subject to inspection on arrival in the United States to confirm the nature of the material and freedom from risk of plant pest dissemination.” The packages cannot contain any plant material, soil or other plant pests.
USDA will authorize interstate movement of live snails for the purpose of establishing a snail farm. A PPQ 526 plant pest permit is required for snails that are agricultural pests. The permit applicant must obtain, in writing, State Agricultural Official concurrence before a movement permit will be issued. Guidance for establishing snail farms and methods of processing prior to shipping are provided by the USDA.
Frequently Asked Questions
View a list of the commonly asked questions and concerns associated with the application process for the importation of live snails and slugs.
Mollusk Decision Matrix
The Mollusk Decision Matrix may be used as a guideline for educators when deciding which snails or slugs to use in their classroom. The matrix lists ten snail and slug species and the specific states in which the USDA will authorize interstate movement. Please note that this matrix is subject to change at any time if the USDA receives new information on plant pest characteristic and pest status. Species may be removed from any given state at any time. Contact your State Plant Regulatory Office or the Pest Permit Evaluation Unit when in doubt.