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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Ratites and Hatching Eggs of Ratites

ostrich, emu, and rhea

Ratites are defined as cassowaries, emus, kiwis, ostriches, and rheas.

The USDA regulates the importation of all avian species including ratites and hatching eggs of ratites into the United States. These regulations were developed to prevent the introduction of highly contagious diseases of poultry such as highly pathogenic avian influenza and Newcastle disease. A current list of countries considered affected can be found here: Animal Health Status of Regions

  • Must be identified using a microchip.
  • Ratite shipments must be accompanied by a USDA import permit (application to obtain a permit is form: VS Form17-129). Processing time for the application is approximately 7 – 10 business days. Applications should be received no less than this time prior to shipment of birds. There is a processing fee which can be paid by check, money order, charge card or by providing a USDA user fee account. For an additional fee, the permit can be amended after issuance by request.
    • Please sign up for an e-authentication account if you are based in the United States or have a U.S. address. Electronic-authentication (e-authentication) is a registration system that enables customers to access the online Electronic Permits (ePermits) system in order to submit import permit applications independently. You can create an e-authentication account and register for ePermits by following the steps outlined on the Register for ePermits website. 
    • Download the import application or contact Strategies & Policies, Live Animal Import Team: VS.Live.Animals.Import.Permits@aphis.usda.gov
  • A health certificate, issued within 30 days of leaving the country of export, must accompany all ratite shipments. A full-time salaried veterinarian of the veterinary competent authority, located in the exporting country, must endorse the health certificate, with English translation. 
  • Live Ratites: Exporting countries can use the model health certificate provided or use their own document which carries the following U.S. health certificate requirements:
    1. All ratites covered under this health certificate were inspected by the veterinarian issuing the health certificate.
    2. Birds were produced by a pen-raised flock.
    3. The birds were shipped from a farm that was inspected and approved by a USDA official during the past 12 months.
    4. Ratites were not vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
    5. The ratites have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus OR ratites have not been vaccinated against Newcastle disease.
    6. There was no evidence of avian communicable disease found among the ratites being shipped.
    7. The premises where the ratites were exported from were not adjacent to any areas under quarantine during the 90 days preceding the exportation.
    8. Ratites covered by this certificate do not originate from flocks nor have had contact with any birds or poultry originating in a control zone established by state/provincial/federal animal health authorities due to outbreaks of Newcastle disease or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)
    9. The ratites were treated at least 3 days but not more than 14 days before being loaded for shipment to the United States with a pesticide sufficient to kill ectoparasites on the ratites.
      1. Name of pesticide
      2. Dosage and delivery method
    10. The pesticide was applied to all body surfaces of the ratites under the supervision of the veterinarian issuing the health certificate.
    11. The ratites are placed in new or appropriately sanitized containers at the premises where the flock of origin was kept.
  • A USDA port veterinarian at the first U.S. port of entry must inspect birds (unless stated differently on the import permit). The importer must arrange for this inspection by a USDA port veterinarian at least 3 business days in advance by contacting the USDA port veterinarian at the telephone number listed on the import permit.
  • At U.S. arrival, ratites are required to proceed immediately into 30 day quarantine.
  • The importer should retain the services of a customs broker to facilitate the importation and, in some cases, the transport of birds from the port of entry to the USDA Animal Import Center. The importer can contact the Import Center for a list of customs brokers to provide this service.
  • Must have an approved form of identification. 
  • Produced by a pen-raised flock.
  • Accompanied by an import permit issued in advance of shipment  (VS Form 17-129)
  • Registry certificate for premises for egg origin. 
  • Brooded in a hatchery that has been approved in advance by USDA and under the direct supervision of the Service Center Director in the State of destination
  • Quarantined within the hatchery for the full incubation period, plus an additional 30 days after hatching.

    Note: Chicks hatched during quarantine will be tested for communicable diseases of poultry.
  • A health certificate, issued within 30 days of leaving the country of export, must accompany all ratite hatching egg shipments. A full-time salaried veterinarian of the veterinary competent authority, located in the exporting country, must endorse the health certificate, with English translation. 
  • Hatching Eggs of Ratites: Exporting countries can use the model health certificate provided or use their own document which carries the following U.S. health certificate requirements:
    1.  The flock of origin for the hatching eggs covered under this health certificate were inspected by the veterinarian issuing the health certificate.
    2. The flock of origin for the hatching eggs were not vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
    3. The flock of origin for the hatching eggs have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus OR have not been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (strike out which does not apply).
    4. The flock of origin for the hatching eggs presented no evidence of avian communicable disease within the 30 days prior to the hatching of the first egg laid for this shipment.
    5. The hatching eggs were exported from an area that was not adjacent to any areas under quarantine during the 90 days preceding the exportation.
    6. Ratites hatching eggs covered by this certificate do not originate from flocks nor have had contact with any birds or poultry originating in a control zone established by state/provincial/federal animal health authorities due to outbreaks of Newcastle disease or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)
    7. The ratites in the flock of origin for the hatching eggs were either born in Canada; or were legally imported and then have resided in Canada for at least 90 consecutive days prior to collecting eggs to comprise the shipment.
    8. The hatching eggs were placed in new or appropriately sanitized packaging for shipment to the United States at the premises where the flock of origin was kept.
  • Shipments must fly direct to an approved U.S. port of entry. A USDA port veterinarian at the port of entry must inspect birds (unless stated differently on the import permit). The importer must arrange for this inspection by a USDA port veterinarian at least 3 business days in advance by contacting the USDA port veterinarian at the telephone number listed on the import permit.
  • The importer should retain the services of a customs broker to facilitate the importation and, in some cases, the transport of birds from the port of entry to the USDA Animal Import Center. The importer can contact the Import Center for a list of customs brokers to provide this service.


Ratites that were hatched and raised in Canada OR were legally imported upon arrival in Canada, underwent 28 days of Canadian quarantine and remained in Canada for an additional 60 days following completion of quarantine. Must fulfill the following importation requirements:

  • Not required to be quarantined
  • If the poultry enters the United States through an air or sea port, an import permit is required.
    • The application for an import permit is VS Form 17-129.
    • However, an import permit is not required for ratites imported from Canada through a U.S. - Canadian land border port.
  • Ratites must have a veterinary health certificate, endorsed by the Canadian government (CFAI) and issued within 30 days of import.  
      1. All ratites covered under this health certificate were inspected by the veterinarian issuing the health certificate.
      2. Ratites were not vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
      3. The ratites have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease or at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus OR ratites have not been vaccinated against Newcastle disease.
      4. Canada is recognized by the United States as free from Newcastle disease.
      5. There was no evidence of avian communicable disease found among the ratites being shipped.
      6. The premises where the ratites were exported from were not adjacent to any areas under quarantine during the 90 days preceding the exportation.
      7. Ratites covered by this certificate do not originate from flocks not have had contact with any birds or poultry originating in a control zone established by the federal animal health authorities due to outbreaks of Newcastle disease or HPAI.
      8. The ratites were treated at least 3 days but not more than 14 days before being loaded for shipment to the United States with a pesticide sufficient to kill ectoparasites in the ratites (specify name of pesticide, dosage, and delivery method).
      9. The pesticide was applied to all body surfaces of the ratites under the supervision of the veterinarian issuing the health certificate.
      10. Ratites were either born in Canada; or legally imported and then have reside in Canada for at least 90 consecutive days.
      11. The ratites were placed in new or appropriately sanitized bedding for shipment to the United States at the premised where the flock of origin was kept.
      1. Have been treated with a pesticide of sufficient strength to rid live birds of all external parasites not more than 14 days nor less than 3 days prior to shipping.
      2. Are either born in Canada or legally imported and have resided in Canada for at least 90 consecutive days.
      3. Have not been vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
      4. Ratites covered by this certificate do not originate from flocks nor had contact with any birds or poultry originating in a control zone established by state/provincial/federal animal health authorities due to outbreaks of Newcastle disease or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
      5. Were vaccinated against Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus OR have not been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (health certificate must specify).
      6. Are shipped in a new or appropriately sanitized container according to USDA standards.
  • The Canadian land border ports that may be able to accept imports of ratites are:
    • Idaho: Eastport
    • Maine: Houlton
    • Michigan: Detroit, Port Huron
    • Montana: Raymond, Sweetgrass
    • New York: Alexandria Bay, Niagara Falls
    • North Dakota: Dunseith, Pembina, Portal
    • Vermont: Highgate Springs
    • Washington: Oroville, Sumas
      Note: it is the responsibility of the importer to confirm availability at the listed ports.
  • Ratites from Canada can be imported without quarantine.
  • An import permit is not required when entering the US via a land border port.
  • Confirmation of availability at the port of entry should be discussed with APHIS VS port veterinarian 3 business days prior to arrival at the port of entry.
  • Identification and Documentation:
    • Identification is not needed for ratites from Canada.
    • Two copies of a declaration is required. The declaration must list: port of entry, name and address of importer, name and address of the broker, origin of the ratites, number and type of birds, purpose of the import, and location of slaughter establishment.
  • Accompanied by a veterinary health certificate with specific certification statements, issued by a Canadian practicing veterinarian and endorsed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) within 30 days if importation, must certify the following:
    1. Ratites covered under this health certificate were inspected by the veterinarian issuing the certificate.
    2. Ratites were not vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
    3.  The ratites have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus OR Ratites have not been vaccinated against Newcastle disease.
      There was no evidence of avian communicable disease found among the ratites being shipped.
    4. The premises where the ratites were exported from were not adjacent to any areas under quarantine during the 88 days preceding the exportation.
    5. Ratites were either hatched in Canada; or legally imported and then have resided in Canada for at least 88 consecutive days.
    6. The ratites were placed in new or appropriately sanitized bedding for shipment to the United States at the premises where the flock of origin was kept.
  • Inspection at the port of entry:
    • If all of the requirements for entry have been met, the port veterinarian will seal the shipment with APHIS seals and issue a completed VS Form 17-30, ‘Report of Animals, Poultry or Eggs Offered for Importation’. The port veterinarian will also seal conveyances and issue a completed VS Form 17-33 (two copies) ‘Animals Imported for Immediate Slaughter’. The U.S. seal numbers will be written on the VS Form 17-33.
    • The ratites for immediate slaughter must be imported to a slaughtering establishment approved by APHIS VS to receive these kinds of animals. The establishment should be approved by FSIS to receive animals that are imported direct to slaughter along an APHIS- approved route of transportation. The port vet should relay information about the shipment to the USDA representative at the receiving slaughter establishment and request follow up to the VS Form 17-33.
  • The lead vehicle in a convoy of the same animals must have an original signed document for the animals in the entire convoy. Each vehicle following the lead vehicle in the convoy with ratites for immediate slaughter must have separate signed copies of the documentation for animals on those vehicles.
  • If any emergencies occur during transportation that would entail a delay in delivery or diversion from the specified route, the driver must notify APHIS VS port personnel using the phone number listed on the import permit (VS-1733) for further instructions.

Note: An import permit will not be issued until quarantine arrangements have been finalized.

  • Ratite (live bird) quarantines must take place at one of the USDA facilities listed below or private quarantine may occur in an APHIS approved facility.
  •  Hatching eggs of ratites may only be quarantined in an APHIS approved private facility. 

    Miami Animal Import Center
    USDA-APHIS-VS
    6300 NW 36 Street
    Miami, FL 33122
    (305) 876-2200 (phone)
    (305) 876-2201 (fax)
    NotifyMAIC@usda.gov
    (Limited to ratites under 36 inches tall)
    New York Animal Import Center
    USDA, APHIS, VS
    474 International Boulevard
    Rock Tavern, NY 12575
    (845) 838-5500 (phone)
    (845) 838-5575 (fax)
    VSPSNIC@usda.gov
    (No limitations on size of ratites)
  • Importers must obtain the approval for a private facility to be used as quarantine prior to applying for an import permit. Information and guidance on obtaining that approval can be obtained from the Strategy & Policy, Live Animal Import Team
  • During the quarantine period, all avians are tested in quarantine to determine if they are free of certain communicable diseases. The cost of diagnostic testing is separate from the quarantine fee.
  • The USDA Animal Import Center will provide the total fee for services for the inspection and quarantine. Estimates of quarantine costs can be found at VS Import/Export User Fees
Contact Us for Additional Information:

LAIE@usda.gov (email)
301-851-3300, Option 2 (phone)
301-734-4704 (fax)

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