Shipping Requirements for Importing Plant and Plant Products Requiring Green and Yellow (PPQ 508) Labels

Shipping Requirements for Importing Plant and Plant Products Requiring Green and Yellow (PPQ 508) Labels

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is phasing in the use of electronic barcoded shipping labels for Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) imports that require shipping labels. APHIS has created a cost and time saving process for emailing non-gummed labels. The new labels will now be emailed as an attached PDF.

A shipping label is a tag that identifies an individual shipment. These labels direct the shipment to a designated port of entry or USDA, Plant Inspection Station (PIS) where shipments are inspected and cleared by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and/or a United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS) inspector. The permit conditions will state if a shipping label is required for the shipment as not all permits require shipping labels.

When shipments are to be imported by mail, the permittee should request a green and yellow mailing label for each parcel. Instructions for its use will be included with the label. If you are importing plants and seeds by mail (including express carrier parcel shipments), please instruct your supplier to attach to your parcel(s) the green and yellow labels that you requested as outlined in the conditions of your permit. It is especially important that the permittee's name, address, telephone number, and permit number be enclosed with each parcel. Instruct your supplier to place only green and yellow labels, and NOT your name or address, on the outside of the parcel. Green and yellow labels should be used only for mail importation. You may request the PPQ Form 508 (Green/Yellow labels) on-line through ePermits under the “My Shipments/Labels” feature. Otherwise, send your request to Specify the approved port(s) listed on the permit where you wish the plant materials sent and the total number of labels needed in a multiple of four.

If the shipment is to be delivered by an express carrier, such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc., the recipient’s name and address must be the same as the name and address on the PPQ permit label. In addition, please include inside the box a U.S. domestic shipping label from the express carrier of your choice with your shipping account number. These actions will help to ensure your package arrives at your designated final destination after the USDA Plant Inspection Station has inspected and cleared the package.

Shipments must be imported and presented for inspection at a USDA, PIS or designated port listed on the permit or the green and yellow label, if applicable or required according to permitting requirements under 7CFR319.37-3. If a shipment arrives at a port without a PIS, and CBP is not authorized to perform the inspection per the existing Memorandum of Understanding between our two agencies then, any subsequent movement to a PIS, or any transfer and/or transloading, must be approved by the USDA and/or CBP.

Labeling Specifics:

A maximum of four labels are generated per page to fit on 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper in landscape orientation. Labels must be printed in color and securely attached to the exterior of each package using clear tape.

Each label is individually numbered with a distinctive barcode. Shipping labels and detailed instructions for using the labels will be emailed to the permittee as an attached PDF to the email address on record. The PPQ 508 shipping labels are only required for importation, and not domestic movement.

Hand Carry:

Permitted articles may be hand carried into the United States only if certain requirements are met. First, hand carrying must be requested in the application and authorized in the permit conditions. The permit conditions will list the specific steps that must be taken in order to hand-carry the articles into the U.S. The applicant may request that someone else be allowed to hand carry the plant materials for them.  However, that person must be identified on the permit by APHIS as being able to hand carry for them. The authorized hand-carrier must follow the permit conditions for the hand-carried shipment.


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