Organisms and Vectors

Organisms and Vectors

The National Import Export Service (NIES), Organisms and Vectors (OV) Unit regulates the importation into the United States, and interstate transportation, of organisms and vectors of pathogenic diseases of livestock and poultry.

The Code of Federal Regulations, in 9 CFR, §122.2 , mandates that “no organisms or vectors shall be imported into the United States or transported from one State or Territory or the District of Columbia to another State or Territory or the District of Columbia without a permit”.

What's New?

  • Currently, USDA-APHIS-VS permit is not required for importation of Zika virus (e.g., infected human serum which is regulated by CDC). However, VS import permit will be required for Zika virus cultures exposed to animal products (e.g., FBS, nutrient supplements, porcine trypsin, egg etc.).  Also, importation of live or killed mosquito vectors of the virus will require VS permit. - new (2/3/2016) 
  • Bacillus anthracis inactivation requirements can be found at: - new (12/2015)
  • 2015 Federal Partners Import/Export Regulations Webcast– new (9/2015)
  • Permit-holders are no longer required to sign permits. Use of the permit implies consent to uphold the terms and conditions of the permit. (7/2015)
  • E-authentication has been streamlined.  Applicants are no longer required to go to a USDA Service Center for Level 2 account activation. Instead, applicants can activate their account  by telephone.  At the account activation step of E-authentication, send an email to and include the words – Self Certify in the subject line.  Please include your contact phone number and the type of APHIS permit you wish to apply for (PPQ (Plant/Soil), VS (Animal/Animal Products) or BRS (Biotech Organisms) in the email. (6/2013)

Import Permits are issued to allow importation into the United States of:  organisms that may cause disease in livestock and poultry, vectors that could carry livestock and poultry pathogens, and/or organisms or vectors that were exposed to animal(s) or animal product(s) outside of the US.  Please note the National Import Export Service (NIES), Organisms and Vectors (OV) Unit does not issue permits for Select Agents.   For information on applying for Possession, Use, and Transfer of Select Agents please visit Agricultural Select Agent Services.

Interstate transport permits are issued for the transfer of organisms that may cause disease in livestock and poultry, and/or vectors that could carry livestock and poultry pathogens between facilities within the US.

The NIES OV does not permit select agents, licensed veterinary biological products, non-infected animals or products, intrastate movement, or storage of biological materials. Conditions and restrictions of the permit apply as long as the material is maintained.  However, permits do not need to be “renewed” for continued storage of material.

To apply for an OV permit please complete and submit an “Application for Permit to:  Import or Transport Controlled Material or Organisms or Vectors” through the ePermits system, email, fax or mail. Use of ePermit requires registration (eAuthentication), to proceed please click here . For a fillable pdf VS Form 16-3, please click here .

Types of permits

New permit – initial application for organisms and vectors permit.  $150.00

Amended permit – application to revise an existing permit, within the current permit period.  An amended permit does not extend the expiration date of the permit.  $75.00

Renewal permit – application to renew an existing permit for an additional time period.  Some changes to the permit may be made within the renewal application, such as address or contact information updates, and revisions relevant to the existing material description or its proposed use (for example different genotypes/mutations of a virus, or additional restriction for animal experimentation, etc).  $97.00

*Always check with local and state authorities as additional laws or regulations may apply.  An Organisms and Vectors import or transport permit does not supersede any other state or Federal regulations.


Do I need an OV permit?

Organism and Vector permitting process

VS-regulated livestock and poultry pathogens (partial list), (Updated December 2016) There is no “all inclusive” list of OV regulated material.  If an organism is known to transmit disease in livestock or poultry, the organism and derivatives fall under the permitting requirements.  Other material will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Country Animal Disease Status Find the USDA-recognized animal health status of particular countries and regions, organized by specific livestock or poultry diseases.

Guidelines for No Import Permit Required These guidelines can be used to import without a USDA permit. The guideline and required statements should be included with the shipping documentation. Read and follow the Guideline directions. If a Guideline is used inappropriately, the materials may be stopped at the port of entry.

APHIS Permit for:

Organisms and Vectors

Agriculture Select Agents

Animal or Animal Products

Veterinary Biologics

Plant Pest and Disease Programs

Biotechnology Regulatory Services

On Hold Shipment - If your shipment has been placed under quarantine by the United States Department of Agriculture or Department of Homeland Security, follow the instructions in this link.

Other Permits:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Import Permit Program (IPP) regulates the importation of infectious biological agents, infectious substances, and vectors of human disease into the United States.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits are required for certain live animals, including bats and materials from endangered species such as Vero cells. Please call 1-800-344-WILD for further information.

Exports of Infectious Materials

The export of a wide variety of etiologic agents of human, plant, and animal diseases may require a license from the Department of Commerce. Information may be obtained by calling the Department of Commerce Bureau of Export Administration at 202-482-4811 or through the internet at:

For questions please contact the organisms and vectors staff via email at or via phone at 301-851-3300 option 3

For faster processing, please submit your application using the online permitting system “ePermits”. You can also submit via fax at 301-851-2239, email at ,or mail:

4700 River Road, Unit 2
Riverdale, MD 20737
Phone:  301-851-3300, option 3
Fax:  301-851-2239

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