Here we are compiling pearls of wisdom and experience our customers and others have to say about obtaining a 'Small Lots of Seed Permit'.
My own experiences when filling out a Canadian Import Permit (which dinged me some bucks), there were too many species to list in the little column provided on the form. How was I to know which species I was going to encounter over the next three years. So I covered myself instead of writing the hundreds of potential magnolia, peonies, acer, etc....I wrote down Magnolia spp, Paeona spp, Acer spp. This 'spp' cover all the species under the genus.
There is nothing worse than having to amend your permit as this takes time and, for Canadians, a fee. But US citizens have the benefit of just writing 'eligible taxa' to cover almost all plant seed except those prohibited or regulated by the USDA. As for the port of entry: 'N/A' will suffice.
Instead of applying online, take your completed Import Permit form with a piece of government issued ID to the nearest USDA extention (see our Shipping to USA article) and present your paperwork. When the USDA is satisfied, you will be issued your permit and become a legitimate seed importer.
Another customer arranged an appointment for an USDA plant inspector to come to their residence to fill out/apply for a permit. So they will come to you!
When you receive your Permit, it comes with 8 sets of printed mailing labels (reason why it may take 3 weeks to arrive at your door), but these labels are valid for 3 years. I recommend you contact the USDA by faxing your request, amended Import Permit, and Permit Number to (301) 734-5786 to order more mailing labels in reserve. This way you always have mailing labels in reserve and won't suffer frustrating delays.
You can use this permit for multiple countries but they must be listed when you apply for your permit. No sense not to include them as it doesn't cost you a thing and you just may remember that special variety in England or France the night after you sent your Import Permit form to the USDA. So you can import up to 50 packets containing a maximum of 50 seeds each (or 10 grams which ever comes first) AS MANY TIMES YOU WANT FOR THREE YEARS!!! If this doesn't bring a smile to your lips, check your pulse!
For a very good Q&A, the excellent folks at www.theseedsite.co.uk have done their homework and have answered a multitude of questions for both customers and seed suppliers alike! Check out: www.theseedsite.co.uk/aphisfaq.html#15
Please note: All orders not having a permit will be cancelled and have payment refunded.