APHIS requires an import permit for the following types of seeds for planting:
Small quantities of seed may be imported under a PPQ 587 permit for Small Lots of Seed without a phytosanitary certificate if all of the following conditions are met:
Coated seed: Any seed unit covered with any substance that changes the size, shape, or weight of the original seed. Seeds coated with ingredients such as, but not limited to, dyes, pesticides, and rhizobia are excluded.
Pelleted seed: Any seed covered with a substance that changes the shape, size, or weight of the original seed to improve its plantability.
Obscured seeds are seeds that are coated, pelleted, or embedded in tape, mats, or any other substrate that obscures visibility. This includes seeds in closed containers, such as cans, opaque packages, or educational kits that cannot be inspected because of obscured visibility. Because obscured seed cannot be properly inspected, it must meet the conditions below to enter the United States. Specifically, the shipment must include:
Seeds of the following plants must be treated prior to importation (only for niger seed) or at a U.S. port of entry before they will be released to the permit holder:
For additional information and treatment requirements, see Plants for Planting Manual (Chapter 3, Specific Restrictions, see Plant Material Requiring Treatment for Entry).
Shipments of agricultural and vegetable seeds regulated under the Federal Seed Act (FSA) may need a PPQ 587–Permit to Import Plants or Plant Products (See Seeds that Require an Import Permit); a phytosanitary certificate from the seed’s country of origin; and a declaration from the importer that states the kind, variety, and origin of each lot of seed and its intended use. Additionally:
You can find more information and view lists of agricultural and vegetable seeds regulated under the Federal Seed Act in 7 CFR 361.
Seeds of certain endangered species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). To import protected seed species, the buyer must obtain a:
In addition, the seller must obtain a CITES Certificate/Permit from the country of origin. This document must accompany the shipment.
To view lists of plants protected under CITES and ESA, please visit the following links:
Tomato and pepper seed from all countries requires testing for virus and viroid diseases. These seeds must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin with the additional declaration that says “the seeds have been tested for (name of virus/viroid) of quarantine significance prior to entry into the United States or that the seeds are produced in a country in which these (name of virus/viroid) are not known to occur.”