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Invasive species travel in packages.

Mailed Items

Pests can hitchhike on plants and other agricultural items sent through both international and domestic mail and by express courier.

Always follow USDA’s regulations to keep pests from spreading through the mail. Otherwise, USDA or U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials can seize restricted items, and you can face a large fine – regardless of whether you shipped the item yourself or someone else mailed it to you.

Invasive plant pests and diseases.

These dangerous hitchhikers can travel on agricultural products mailed within the United States from infested areas and from foreign countries. Restricted items – which vary depending on whether they are being mailed inside or outside the U.S. – may include fruits, vegetables, plants, soil, flowers, seeds, herbal medicines and some plant-based handicrafts. Learn more about safely receiving foreign products in the mail here.

What's at risk.

Your plants and gardens, commercial food crops and grocery bill! Even a single mango infested with fruit fly larvae that is mailed to you, then thrown into your garbage, could lead to a new fruit fly outbreak. Eradicating those destructive pests might cost the United States millions of dollars, which could impact the amount you pay for food.

  • Ask family and friends to alert you before they mail food, plants or other agricultural items, so you can check first with your nearest USDA office to make sure they’re safe to send. Also, check with your local USDA office before mailing any items from Hawaii or Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland.
  • Never mail or order plants or other agricultural items from areas within the United States under federal or state quarantine for an invasive pest, or you may spread them to new areas. Go to Pest Tracker to see which areas have quarantines.
  • When ordering online, don’t assume items available from foreign retailers are legal to import into the United States. Those shippers may not be aware of U.S. regulations regarding restricted items or care about your liability as the importer.
  • Despite seeming identical, foreign foods sold in the U.S. may have different ingredients or have undergone special treatments to meet U.S. import requirements. Stick to buying such products here.
  • If an item is seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, make sure it’s not sent again. If you purchased it from a foreign vendor, ask for your money back and don’t accept their offer to replace or substitute the confiscated item.
  • Although you may have legally mailed an item in the past, import regulations may change. Contact your USDA office to see if it’s still eligible for entry.

Mailing agricultural products is not the same as carrying them with you into the United States through an airport or across a border, as different procedures apply. Visit www.aphis.usda.gov/travel to learn more.


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