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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Fish, Fertilized Eggs, and Gametes

photo of red tilapia in water

**NOTE – New import requirements for species susceptible to Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) per Federal Order DA-2019-01. More TiLV fish disease information can be found at Aquatic Animal Diseases.

Live fish, fertilized eggs, and gametes of the species listed below may be imported into the United States, provided they meet the following USDA import requirements:

  1. Accompanied by an USDA import permit, AND
  2. Accompanied by a veterinary export health certificate (issued by a full-time veterinary officer or competent authority of the national government of the exporting country), AND
  3. Enter through, and undergo veterinary inspection at, a designated U.S. Port (see list below).

I. USDA Import Permit

A USDA import permit must be used to import live fish, fertilized eggs, and gametes from the SVC-susceptible species and TiLV-susceptible species listed above.  

  1. Complete and submit the import application:
    Importers may submit an online application for an import or transit permit for APHIS-regulated live animals and their reproductive tissue (genetic resources) using the VS Form 17-129 through ePermits or the new eFile system.

    * Allow 7-10 business days to process a live animal import permit application.
    ** Also check with individual state(s) regarding specific laws for the species of animal you wish to import **
  1. Import permit accompanies shipment:
    • The original import permit is valid for thirty (30) days, and must accompany all shipments of live fish, fertilized eggs, and gametes from SVC-susceptible species and TiLV-susceptible species entering the United States.

II. Veterinary Export Health Certificate

All regulated aquatic animal species (listed above) imported from any region of the world must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by a salaried veterinarian of the national government of the exporting region OR issued by a certifying official and endorsed by the competent authority of that country (unless otherwise indicated).

The health certificate must be written in English OR contain an official English translation. The type of health certificate will depend on the regulated aquatic animal species, disease they are susceptible to, and the region of export.

Fish Susceptible to Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC)

Fish Susceptible to Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV)

III. Port Inspection

In addition to the USDA import permit AND veterinary export health certificate, all imported live fish, fertilized eggs, and gametes from SVC-susceptible species and TiLV-susceptible species must meet the following requirements at the U.S. port of entry:

  1. Shipment must only enter the United States through a designated port where the USDA Veterinary Services (VS) personnel are available to process the shipments.
    • Designated Ports for SVC-susceptible species
       
      • California: Los Angeles, Otay Mesa, San Francisco
      • Florida: Miami, Tampa
      • Georgia: Atlanta
      • Hawaii: Honolulu
      • Illinois: Chicago
      • Massachusetts: Boston
      • Michigan: Detroit
      • New Jersey: Newark
      • New York: Buffalo-Niagara, New York
      • Oregon: Portland
      • Puerto Rico: San Juan
      • Texas: Dallas-Fort Worth
      • Washington: Seattle, Sumas
         
    • Designated Ports for TiLV-susceptible species
      • California: Los Angeles, San Francisco
      • Florida: Miami, Tampa
      • Georgia: Atlanta
      • Hawaii: Honolulu
      • Illinois: Chicago
      • New Jersey: Newark
      • New York: New York
      • Puerto Rico: San Juan
      • Texas: Houston
      • Washington: Seattle
    • If live fish, fertilized eggs, and gametes attempt to enter the United States through other, non-designated ports, they will be refused entry by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel. 
  1. Importers must notify the USDA Port Veterinarian seventy-two (72) hours in advance of the expected arrival of the shipment, to ensure clearance procedures may be expedited in a timely manner.
    • USDA Port Veterinarians may be contacted through their respective VS Area Offices (Animal Imports Port List).
    • A User Fee will apply for port inspections of imported consignments.
  • All shipments must be accompanied by: 
    • Original valid import permit AND
    • Original endorsed veterinary export health certificate AND
    • Cleaning & Disinfection Certificate (if applicable)

Additional Information

*Note: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and/or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may have additional import requirements for live aquatic animals. For more information about U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service requirements, please contact them at your local port of entry (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Authorized Ports of Entry) or visit their website (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Information for Importers and Exporters). For more information about U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements, please contact them via email at FDAImportsInquiry@fda.hhs.gov.

For additional information please contact us at:

USDA, APHIS, VS
Strategy & Policy – Live Animal Imports
4700 River Road, Unit 39
Riverdale, MD 20737
Email: laipermits@usda.gov 
Phone: 301-851-3300, Option 2

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