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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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CIP Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a CIP?
A. A controlled import permit or CIP is the permit type authorizing the importation of prohibited or restricted plant taxa. The application for a CIP is designated “PPQ Form 588”.

Q. What plants are covered under a PPQ Form 588 CIP?
Plants and plant parts that are prohibited or restricted from entering into the United States. To determine if you require a CIP permit, check the plant taxa in the Plants for Planting Manual.

Q. Why is my Departmental Permit now called a CIP?
A. Departmental Permits were changed to Controlled Import Permits (CIP) when the CIP rule went into effect on June 3, 2013. When your Departmental Permit expires it will be reissued as a CIP. The CIP rule is found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 7 CFR 319.6.

Q. Do I need to apply for a CIP permit if the item is NOT prohibited?
No. If a plant taxa is admissible you would typically use a PPQ Form 587 application.  View the Plants and Plant Products
Permits web page for information.  Please note, a phytosanitary certificate may also be required.

Q. What is the turnaround time to process a controlled import permit (CIP) application?
A. The time to process an application depends on various factors including the number of applications in the queue, the application completion status, the imports intended use, if the material will be destroyed or released, if a containment inspection is required, the condition of your containment facility, the pest risk, the country/commodity combination, and whether prior permit exist. Upon evaluation of your facility, we may determine that you need to perform upgrades in order to be an approved containment facility; if this is the case, an inspector will inspect your facility after the upgrades are performed. This could cause delays in the processing time. Most applications that provide sufficient information can take 30 to 45 days, as the complexity of the import increases and with the need for additional clarification and information the processing time can be extended to 120 days or longer. We make every attempt to thoroughly understand the considerations for CIP request to ensure pest risk reduction and meeting the requests of the importer.

Q. How long is a CIP permit valid? 
CIPs initially issued to an applicant are valid for a period of one year. Prior to the expiration of a CIP and if permit conditions are not violated, the permittee may request an expiring permit to be renewed for up to an additional two years.

Q. Do I need a phytosanitary certificate for CIP imports? 
A. A phytosanitary certificate is not required for plant material imported with a CIP.

Q. How much does a CIP cost? 
A. There is no charge to obtain a CIP.

Q. How do I renew or amend a CIP? 
A. PPQ permits may be renewed from three months prior to the permit expiration date through one month after the expiration date. Please note that if you are not eAuthenticated, you need to renew or request an amendment with a paper application.  We strongly encourage permit holders to get eAuthenticated in order to better manage their permit renewals and amendments.

Q. What type of permit do I need to import plant material that requires postentry quarantine (PEQ)? 
A. For postentry quarantine imports use a PPQ546 application. Please note that some former PEQ plant taxa/country combinations were affected by the NAPPRA rule, and can no longer be imported as PEQ. If the plant taxa/country is listed as prohibited in the Plants for Planting Manual, you would need to submit a PPQ Form 588 application.

Q. Can I hand-carry plant material imported with a CIP permit? Can someone else use my hand-carry permit?
Hand carry requests are evaluated and granted based on permit managers discretion.  Hand carry events require import pre-notification and travel itinerary prior to arrival.  The permit holder may authorize an alternate individual to hand carry this material.  The alternate person’s name must be listed on the permit.  The plant material must be inspected at a port of entry with a plant inspection station and be transported directly to the permit holder’s address.

Q. If I have proof that my plants are not infected – can I import? 
A. Any importation of prohibited plant material intended for planting will require a CIP. All imported plants are subject to testing/inspection for pathogens and plant pests of concern to the US.

Q. I have a screen house to prevent infestation – Will this provide sufficient containment to maintain imported plant material?
A screenhouse and any other containment facility designated to maintain plant material while under quarantine processing must be approved by APHIS as being adequate to contain any potential pest/pathogen.

Q. Can I distribute/share the material I imported under a CIP with a different laboratory/organization?
A. Plant material imported under a CIP, must not be moved or distributed to another person without prior written permission from our PPQ office. In order to obtain permission, both you and the recipient of the material need valid permits for the same plant taxa/origins/plant parts. The permit will need a condition allowing distribution to the new recipient.

Q. I am a graduate student. Can I obtain a CIP?
A. Permit applicants must be in a position to safeguard and assume responsibility for the containment of the regulated article. Graduate students typically do not have oversight of the containment facility and cannot guarantee acceptable safeguards are maintained. A responsible person such as the major professor, principal investigator, greenhouse manager or supervisor of the production area who is responsible for required quarantine measures of the facility must be the permit applicant.

Q. Do I need a permit for herbarium specimens of prohibited taxa?
A. Yes, a CIP  is required for prohibited taxa including those that are unknown to science. For admissible plant taxa (see the Plants for Planting Manual) typically PPQ Form 587 is required for importation.  See the Plants and Plant Products
Permits Web page for the list of permits.

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