Rules Clarified for Buying / Selling Seeds and Plants Online From Other Countries

Dan Field Crops, Nursery Crops, Seeds, Specialty Crops, USDA-APHIS


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is providing additional guidance to help online buyers and sellers comply with U.S. laws when they import seeds and live plants from other countries. The information, available on the APHIS website, is essential to help protect critical U.S. agriculture infrastructure and natural resources from potential invasive pest and disease threats.

The guidance explains buyer and seller responsibilities; outlines required documents, such as import permits and phytosanitary certificates; provides information on plant and seed species that have additional import requirements, and makes clear which types of plants and seeds are not allowed to be imported into the United States.  

APHIS published the site after evaluating thousands of reports of unsolicited seed packages that began in July 2020. While APHIS confirmed that some of the seeds were sent to the United States unsolicited, others were seeds the recipients ordered — unaware that were coming from a foreign country. Most of the seed shipments were illegal because they entered the United States without a permit or a phytosanitary certificate.

Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.