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Be Careful Of Bringing Plants Or Cuttings From Overseas Trips!

You’re traveling overseas when you spot a special plant and you can’t help but imagine how nice it would look at your home. So, you buy the plant, a few packs of seeds, or take some live cuttings. You then rush back to the U.S., only to have all of your dreams vanish when the Customs officer throws your prized plant in the trash.

Customs and Homeland Security officers do that because some plants may pose long-term economic or ecological threats to our nation’s agricultural industry.

It is so easy to rationalize and say to yourself that one little plant couldn’t possibly cause a problem. But how would you feel if you were the one who brought in a plant infested with an insect or disease that wiped out entire grape vineyards, destroyed almond orchards, or decimated the citrus industry? These problems, and many more, exist today because of insects and diseases that are being brought into our country from other

parts of the world. Each year, it is estimated that the U.S. spends about $143 billion to control the impacts of invasive species.

Many plants, plant parts and seeds from foreign countries may enter the U.S., provided they meet certain requirements. If you plan to travel and want to bring in plants, you’ll need to plan ahead because you may need to obtain a permit or other official documents. This may take up to 30 days to process.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Plants in soil are prohibited.
  • You can bring in up to 12 plants that are not otherwise prohibited, protected under the Endangered Species Act or Convention on International Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or subject to special restrictions, such as post-entry quarantine or treatment.
  • You’ll need a phytosanitary certificate issued by the National Plant Protection Organization from the country you are leaving.
  • S. Customs and Border Protection will inspect the plants at the port of entry to determine they are free of pests and diseases and meet all entry requirement.
  • Travelers may wrap plants in damp newspaper to prevent them from drying out. Roots may be secured in a plastic bag (Must be clean, with no soil!).
  • To bring in 13 or more plants, you’ll need to obtain an import permit. For 13 or more plants, you will need to mail or ship the plants to the nearest USDA Plant Inspection Station. Any costs to move or treat the plants will be done at the importer’s expense.

For additional information, please call the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at (877) 770-5990.