Seeds and Plants Crossing US Borders
B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer
Horticulturist, Department of Horticulture, Purdue University
traveling abroad often inquire about whether it is ok to
bring seeds or plants back from their trip. US Government regulations
mandate that plant materials (including seeds) are required
to be inspected and issued a phytosanitary certificate by
the country of origin BEFORE they can be brought into the US.
These items should also be declared on the customs form that
is required for reentry to the US.
and/or soil across the border has long been a no-no, though
the rules used to be less strictly enforced where private citizens
were concerned. Seasoned travelers may be accustomed to sneaking
seeds and plants home from abroad. But these are different
times we live in now–we can no longer
afford to be lax about our homeland security. Everything has come under
much more scrutiny since the 9/11 tragedy.
In Jan 2002, the
US Government issued a statement indicating that these already
existing regulations would be more strictly enforced and applied
to ALL, including the general public (that means gardeners too!)
the USDA-APHIS announcement, "Importers and members
of the general public will not be allowed to import restricted nursery
stock, plants, or other propagative plant material into the United
States without an accompanying phytosanitary certificate unless the
items are certain greenhouse-grown and stickered plants or specially
certified seeds from Canada. Phytosanitary certificates must be obtained
from an official agency of the country where the goods originate." This
helps protect against the importation of non-endemic plant pathogens,
insects and invasive plants.
If you purchase
seed in a garden center or similar business that also happens
to be used to dealing with overseas tourists, they may have
specially packaged seeds that have already been inspected and
stamped for export. All other materials, including those that have
been personally "collected", must be inspected
before they could legally be brought in to the US.
about these regulations can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/fsheet_faq_notice/fs_