An import permit issued by APHIS specifies which seed species can enter the country and under what conditions. These conditions can include treatment, packaging, labeling, and shipping requirements, among other things. Only U.S. residents may apply for an import permit.
Most seeds for planting require a PPQ 587–Permit to Import Plants or Plant Products. Some seeds are prohibited or restricted and may enter the United States only under a special permit and after meeting additional requirements. Please see Seeds with Additional Requirements for more information.
To determine which permit you need, visit APHIS’ Plants and Plant Products Permits website or contact APHIS’ Permits Help Desk by phone (301) 851-2046, toll free (877) 770-5990, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applying for a Permit
U.S. residents can apply for an import permit at no cost using APHIS eFile. To begin, you must first create an account. Once you are registered, you may apply for a permit. Issuance of a Permit may take up to two months depending on the amount of permit being handled throughout the year and the complexity of the permit.
A phytosanitary certificate is issued by the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of the country of origin. It attests that the NPPO has inspected the seed and found it free of pests and pathogens. All seeds imported into the United States must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, unless specifically exempted by a permit that allows importation without one, such as the Small Lots of Seed permit (See Seeds with Additional Requirements).
Exceptions to the Phytosanitary Certificate Requirement:
The following are excepted from the phytosanitary certificate requirement:
The instructions on the import permit will indicate whether a shipping label is required. Not all permits require shipping labels. The shipping label includes the address of the APHIS Plant Inspection Station where the package must be sent. Each label is individually numbered with a distinctive barcode. If APHIS does not require an import permit for the seeds you are shipping into the United States, you do not need a shipping label.
Requesting a Shipping Label
If the import permit conditions require a shipping label, the buyer must:
All seeds shipped into the United States must be accompanied by an invoice or packing list that includes the scientific names of the seeds and their quantities.
Seeds shipped into the United States must be plainly and correctly marked by the seller as follows: