International Carnivorous Plant Society

Seed Import Requirements

Import of small lots of seeds into the USA requires the use of a US Department of Agriculture Permit to Import Plants or Plant Products. The ICPS has such a permit and it is required that we use it to receive seeds imported into the USA for use by the Seed Bank. 

The basic requirements to send seeds

  1. Seeds must be clean and packeted with no more than 10 grams of seed per packet. No more than 50 packets can be included. The packets themselves should be labeled or in a plastic bag that is labeled. Expect the inspectors to want to see everything so package things accordingly. 
  2. There should be a packing list of the contents of your package. 
  3. The Seed Bank manager will need to send you two mailing labels via postal mail: a green and yellow label for you to use to send the seeds to the inspection station and a white label for the inspection station to use to send the seeds on to the Seed Bank. 
  4. The Seed Bank manager will also send you a copy of the actual permit via postal mail. The permit must be included with the seeds. 

Here are the rules as stated in the permit. Please read all the conditions before sending seeds. 


This permit authorizes the importation of the listed articles, under the conditions specified below. A copy of this permit (including all conditions) must accompany all shipments authorized under this permit. Upon arrival in the United States, the articles and shipping container(s) are subject to inspection by officials of Customs and Border Protection, Agriculture Inspection (CBP-AI) and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ). The inspectors will release the shipment if it is free of exotic pests, noxious weeds, soil and other prohibited matter.

1. This permit authorizes small lots of seed, only of taxa that are generally admissible under current 7 CFR 319.37 regulations, to be imported without a phytosanitary certificate, under all of the following conditions.

2. Seed shipments must be accompanied by a "Green and Yellow" permit label (PPQ Form 508), identified by a stamped permit number and the expiration date. All unused permit labels will become void and are not to be used after the expiration date of this permit. Green and yellow permit labels must be attached to the outside of the shipping container, clearly visible and unobstructed by other shipping labels.

3. A copy of this permit shall accompany each shipment.

4. Seed shipments must enter the United States through a USDA Plant Inspection Station.

5. The seeds must be securely packaged in packets or envelopes and sealed to prevent spillage. Clear plastic re-sealable bags are highly recommended.

6. Labeling: A typed or legibly printed seed list/invoice must accompany each shipment with the name of the collector/shipper, the botanical names (at least to genus, preferably to species level) listed alphabetically, as well as the country of origin, and country shipped from, for each taxon. Each seed packet must be clearly labeled with the name of the collector/shipper, the country of origin, and the scientific name at least to the genus, and preferably to the species, level. The invoice/seed list may provide a code for each lot, which may be used on the seed packets in lieu of the full list of required information. In this case, each packet must at least include the appropriate code referenced to the seed list/invoice, and the botanical name used on the seed list/invoice.

7. Each packet must be limited to a maximum of 50 seeds of 1 taxon (taxonomic category such as genus, species, cultivar, etc.) per packet; or a maximum weight not to exceed 10 grams of seed of 1 taxon, per packet.

8. Each shipment must contain no more than 50 seed packets.

9. The seeds must be free from pesticides.

10. The shipment must be free from soil, plant material other than seed, other foreign matter or debris, seeds in the fruit or seed pod, and living organisms such as parasitic plants, pathogens, insects, snails, and mites.

11. A mail forwarding address label, no smaller than 2" by 4" with the permittee's address on the right hand side of the label (Attention: permittee's name) shall be made available to the receiving Plant Inspection Station, preferably by placing it within the shipping carton, attached to the seed list/invoice. The left side of the label should be free of writing to allow Plant Inspection Station personnel to affix a release stamp.

12. If the seeds are shipped to the Plant Inspection Station via express overnight carrier, it is the permittee' s responsibility to either:

(a) make arrangements with their express carrier for pick-up from the USDA Plant Inspection Station and delivery to his/her address, or

(b) provide to the USDA Plant Inspection Station the account number he/she holds with the express carrier against which the forwarding of their shipments will be charged (PPQ will not pay shipping charges to the permittee's destination).

13. USDA, APHIS, PPQ has the option, based on its inspection, to destroy or seize individual seed packets or the contents of shipments with no additional action (i.e. no Emergency Action Notification) except notification to the permittee. This will be done if inspection station personnel find that the imported seeds require treatment, are contaminated with a quarantine plant pest or pests, are labeled improperly, are commingled with other seeds (i.e. not separated from other seeds), are over the weight/count limit, or if the paperwork is incomplete or missing. Noncompliant seed will not be returned to origin or treated.

14. If the seed passes PPQ inspection, the shipment will be forwarded to the permittee cited on the pre-printed labels (see condition #11).

15. The following lists or categories of seeds may not be shipped under this permit:

(a) Federal noxious weed seeds, see the Federal Noxious Weed List.

(b) Parasitic plant seeds, see the list of PARASITIC PLANT GENERA.

(c) Seeds prohibited or restricted by special conditions in 7CFR319 regulations. See "To determine the entry status of seed taxa" on the USDA Small Seed Lots web page.

(d) Canadian-origin agricultural or vegetable seed subject to the Federal Seed Act import provisions

(e) Genetically modified seed

(f) Seeds that are pelleted, coated, or imbedded in a growing media, seed tape, cloth, or similar materials

16. Seeds regulated by CITES and/or the Endangered Species Act require additional permits. See and

17. Non Canadian-origin seeds regulated by the Federal Seed Act require additional labeling on the invoice and seed packets. Agricultural and vegetable seed requires lot designation and the designation "hybrid" when the lot contains hybrid seed. Vegetable seed requires a variety name or "VNS" for "variety not stated".

18. Under the Plant Protection Act, individuals or corporations who fail to comply with these conditions and authorizations, or who forge, counterfeit, or deface permits or shipping labels may receive civil or criminal penalties, and may have all current permits cancelled and future permit applications denied.