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Regulated Organism and Soil Permits

Under the authority of the Plant Protection and Honeybee Acts, a Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) 526 permit is required for the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of plant pests (plant feeding insects, mites, snails, slugs, and plant pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.), biological control organisms of plant pests and weeds, bees, parasitic plants and Federally listed noxious weeds.

APHIS also requires a 526 permit for the importation and interstate movement of soil for the purpose of isolating or culturing microorganisms from the soil. If the organism is imported on/in host material, no separate permit is required for the host material if the host material is not intended for propagation.

APHIS is authorized to inspect shipments and/or facilities at any time to verify compliance with permit conditions. Receipt of a PPQ permit does not relieve the applicant from the obligation to comply with the regulations of other Federal, State, and local agencies (e.g., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Environmental Protection Agency).

PPQ 526 Permit
The PPQ 526 permit for importation, interstate movement, possession, and/or release into the environment of:

View a list of the commonly asked questions and concerns associated with the application process for a permit to move live plant pests or noxious weeds.

APHIS offers both the on-line ePermits system and a manual process for application submission. PPQ strongly recommends applicants submit permit applications on-line, via the ePermits system because ePermits efficiently provides applicants electronic access to their applications and permits. View the following link for information on these application options, and to start the application process.

Applications for 526 permits are processed in the order received. PPQ receives over six thousand 526 permit applications per year. The average application processing time is eighty (80) days. The processing time depends on the complexity of the request. On-line application submission using ePermits can save up to thirty (30) days. 

The PPQ 526 permit review process includes the following steps*

Step Time Range
Review application for completeness of required information, such as; applicant contact information, genus and species of regulated material, destination state, origin, and shipment information. Add one month for processing paper applications that are not submitted on-line. 1 week
Evaluate pest risk. 1-4 weeks
Prepare environmental assessment and publish in Federal Register, if necessary. Environmental assessments are typically required for first time releases of biological control agents. 6 months - 1 year
Inspect containment facility, if necessary. 1-4 months
Determine conditions necessary to mitigate risk. 1-4 weeks
Consult with the State Department of Agriculture. 1-4 weeks
Evaluate State response. 1-2 weeks
Send draft permit to the applicant for agreement to permit conditions. 1-4 weeks
Issue final permit. For importation only, issue Red and White Labels. 1 week
Total 8 weeks to 18 months

*These steps and timelines are not all-encompassing, if necessary, additional steps or time may be required. 

A facility inspection may be required before a PPQ 526 Permit is issued. A PPQ inspector will document aspects of the facility to determine if the facility and equipment are adequate for containment of the organism(s). A PPQ containment specialist will evaluate the documentation and determine if the facility is adequate. In most cases, if the application is for the receipt of foreign organisms (i.e. foreign strain, biotype, race, isolate) or a Program Pest (i.e. currently under federal quarantine) the facility must be inspected. Diagnostic facilities are also inspected. The applicant will be informed if their facility must be inspected after review of the permit application. Guidelines are available.

APHIS implemented an enhancement that allows non-eAuthenticated applicants to electronically respond to PPQ’s requests to review and approve “draft permit conditions” and/or to complete the “applicant inspection questionnaire”. Learn More.

Contact Us for Additional Information on Organism Permits

Telephone 301-851-2285, Toll Free 866-524-5421
E-mail Evaluation and Permitting of Regulated Organisms & Soil

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