A notice to our customers living in the USA about the importance of a 'Small Lot of Seed Permit' issued by USDA/APHIS to import seed from outside the USA safely without the risk of siezure.
Please note: Because of potential seizure, all orders not having a permit or a Phytosanitary Certificate (see article at page bottom for details) will be cancelled and payment refunded.
Included are the links and helpful tips on how to obtain and fill out the proper documents.
Without an import permit and a costly phytosanitary certificate, US citizens gambled on the chance that their seed order from outside the United States could be confiscated and destroyed by the US authorities. Many Canadian seed suppliers, including me, made the decision not to send seed to the United States, but NO LONGER!
International seed houses and exchanges couldn't send seeds to US customers before because of the USDA regulations are now open to you with a 'Small Lots of Seed Permit'.
This is what happened.Because of US citizen pressure, the USDA concluded that the Import Permit and having the seed inspected was sufficient to allow US citizens to import but the seeds still had to be submitted for inspection. In May 2006, the US Department of Agriculture have relaxed their regulations involving the importation of seed from outside the USA and created their 'Small Lots of Seed Permit' program. The rules, in my opinion, are reasonable, fair, and easy.
All you need now is this permit and no longer do you need to purchase a costly Phytosanitary Certificate (unless you are purchasing bulk seed), which may exceed $80 depending on country of origin. This cost made it near impossible to for anyone to purchase hard to find seed from outside the USA. The Import Permit is free, valid for three years, and is good for multiple shipments. The maximum number of seed packets of per order is 50, where each packet cannot contain more than 50 seeds or weigh more than 10 grams (0.37 ounces). The mode of proper cleaning and packaging is up to the seed provider, but we've always followed proper packaging and labeling guidelines so this is not a problem.
Mind you there are still are restrictions which include species considered to be noxious, weed or listed under CITES. You have to check with the restrictions in your State, which is fair enough. For further conditions and/or details, visit the APHIS site. For information to obtain an Import Permit, check out the USDA website: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/Q37/smalllotsseed.html .
Use form PPQ Form 587, the Application for Permit to Import Plants or Plant Products. For CITES listed or other protected species you also need to fill out PPQ Form 621.
On the first line of Section 3 on Form 587 application, write “SMALL LOTS OF SEED PROGRAM”. Starting on the second line, list the seed species and countries from which you want to ship each species. If your species list is long, you may enter “eligible taxa”. By using this option, you accept responsibility for determining the eligibility of the seeds. The Permit Unit cannot tell you if the species are eligible for importation if you do not list them. A permit is issued for taxa that are admissible with no restrictions beyond the port of entry inspection. The excellent folks at the North American Rock Garden Society took pains to compile this restricted species list. Visit: www.nargs.org/RestrictedSeed/
If port of entry inspectors find prohibited or restricted seeds in your shipment, they will seize and destroy the ineligible kinds if you don't have the correct additional permits. For the 'Port of Entry' question, print 'Seattle/SeaTac'. Its the closest USDA Plant Inspection Station to us. Their full address is:
USDA, APHIS, PPQ
Plant Inspection Station
835 South 192nd Street, Suite 1600
SeaTac, WA 98148-2394
Phone toll free 1-877-770-5990 if you have questions. I highly recommend you to consider the USDA service center you choose as one main office in Jamaica, New York can be over whelmed with their inspections of bare root plants, which receive priority. A smaller, 'quieter' office might be more prompt in their seed inspections might be what you seeking. An informational brochure can be downloaded for more information PLUS there is a listing of the USDA offices can be found at:
An investment of a brief phone call to the office close to you can thwart an unforseen, unexpected extended wait.
The current person in charge of issuing permits in the SLSP program is a very busy Carolyn Fitzgerld who can be reached at 301-734-8447 if you have any burning questions. Send your completed permit application by fax to (310) 734-5786 or mail it to:
You can scan your completed form and email your permit with a forwarding note such as prefered USDA Inspection Station to:
If you feel secure giving personal information online:
In general, the dance steps one must perform is the following:
(a) You, a US citizen, will obtain an USDA Small Lots of Seed Permit;
(b) You will then send a photocopy of your Permit and one (or more) of your green/yellow labels. These come already printed with the address to an US Inspection Station, plus one of your own self addressed label(s). Then send the whole mess to us at:
(c) we will then send the seeds, packed and labelled as required to the In spectio Station indicated on your permit;
(d) The seeds will be checked at the Inspection Station, and they will use your self-addressed label and forward your seeds to you!
If you are having problems with creating an account to obtain a permit, contact your USDA Service Centre by browsing http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov. This site helps you find your nearest Service Center along with contact information and map directions or to arrange an appointment for a USDA representative come to your home to fill out the paperwork.
Let the great greening begin!