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Plant Import and Export

Exporting Plants and Bulbs from the U.S.A.

When sending plants and bulbs from the U.S.A. to other countries, including Canda and Mexico, the materials must be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate. These are issued after appropriate inspections, by the USDA and by its affiliated State agencies. Contact your local Agricultural Extension Agent for the appropriate agency to contact in your area.

In the State of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, division of entomology and plant pathology, has inspectors who perform the phytosanitary inspections and issue the Phytosanitary Certificate. The original copy of the Phytosanitary Certificate must accompany the actual plants.

The materials must be clean and healthy, free of soil, diseases, and pests.

The plants must be individually labeled with the botanical name, i.e., Genus and species. It is also a good idea to include the plant family name on this label. E.g., "Clivia miniata (Amaryllidaceae)." In this example, "Clivia" is the genus name, "miniata" is the species name, and "Amaryllidaceae" is the family name.

Country Import Permits

Some countries require that plants and bulbs be accompanied by an import permit. The importer is entirely responsible for obtaining any necessary plant import permits for his own country. He must provide the shipper with copies of his import permit. If an import permit is required, a copy of it must accompany the shipment, as well as the original phytosanitary certificate.

Importing Plants, Seeds, and Bulbs into the U.S.A.

The importation of plants, seeds, and bulbs into the United States of America requires that the shipments be accompanied by an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the country of origin. Failure to have a phytosanitary certificate will result in the plants, seeds, or bulbs being returned to the sender or being destroyed.

You may need a USDA plant import permit as well. This is certainly true for plants, and it helps in the case of seeds and bulbs. There is a special "Small Lots of Seeds" permit for importation of limited quantities of seeds without a phytosanitary certificate. This permit greatly simplifies importation of seeds by hobbyists, and should be obtained before attempting to obtain seeds from outside the U.S.A. Permits are issued free of charge upon application. Go to for more information.

Jim Shields <>, webmaster
Last revised on: 10 February 2012
© Copyright 2012 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.