US seed import permits

Lee Poulsen
Fri, 22 Feb 2013 21:52:27 PST
Mike is absolutely correct. I've considered several times now, going to the effort of driving to the closest USDA extension office (30 miles away), but to get there on a business day between 8 am and 4:30 pm, I would definitely have to take at least a half day off from work. (Apparently the USDA thinks the only people who need to do business with them in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area don't live within the area; all their offices are on the periphery.)

Every time I've had to renew, I've done it using the paper forms. Although, I've discovered the way to speed the process by a few days is to use old-fashioned technology and fax the forms in. It works every time!  ;-)
(And faxes are about as fast as email or the Internet…)

Also, Karl, I agree with those who suggest getting the plant import permit while you're at it. Both the seed and plant permits are free, the seed permits are good for 3 years and the plant permits are good for 5 years, are good for plant material from any place in the world, and you never know when you might actually have the opportunity to import something you really want fairly easily, and you'll already be prepared with the proper permits! You can even use the permits when bringing back material in your luggage that you may have purchased while traveling abroad. The seed permit can be used by anyone sending you seeds from abroad. The plant permit really only has one catch that makes its use a lot more difficult: You have to get a phytosanitary certificate in the country of origination of shipment that must accompany the plant(s). In some cases (like Japan), this is easy and in other cases (like Brazil), it's nearly impossible. Plus, some places (like Australia) charge outrageous amounts for the phyto inspection. In many countries, it is so much trouble to get this one step done, that no one even bothers to try. (Except for large commercial entities.)

How I wish the USDA would amend their procedure so that a U.S. importer could have them do the phyto inspection immediately upon arrival. I would even pay for this!  ;-)

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USA - USDA Zone 10a
Latitude 34°N, Altitude 1150 ft/350 m

On Feb 22, 2013, at 5:33 PM, Michael Mace wrote:

> Jane wrote:
>>> Also, after going through the initial series of steps you can do online,
> you have to physically go to a USDA extension office near your home
> (fortunately there are plenty of them near mine) and identify the staff
> member who is authorized to verify your identity by looking at your photo
> ID, and then that person will input the verification into their system
> If you use the option of ordering the permits by mail, you don't have to go
> identify yourself to a USDA office.  You just send in the form and they mail
> you the permits.  It's not a huge hassle.
> For some reason I don't understand, the website encourages you to use online
> registration for the permit, even though it's a lot more complicated for
> everyone involved.

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