Help with Ordering Seeds Internationally

Lee Poulsen via pbs
Tue, 02 Mar 2021 00:43:31 PST
For anyone in the U.S. interested in ordering seeds from outside the US, it’s actually pretty simple to get the “Small Lots of Seeds” permit. It is free. And it is good for 3 years at which time you just renew it again for another 3 years. Doesn’t cost a penny.

The information about the seed import permit can be found at: 

It takes a little extra effort, and time, to set up an account to apply for the permit online (“epermit”). But you can apply for one right away easily by regular mail or fax. Just fill out the form found at:


and then print it and mail it in an envelope to the address given on the form, or fax it to the fax number also given on the form (if you have access to a fax machine still). If you give them an email address they will send you a PDF file of your permit, and a PDF file of the green and yellow labels the vendor is supposed to place on the outside of the packet. This is useful since you can then just email the PDF files to the vendor when your order the seeds.

Use of this permit is legally the only valid way to import seeds into the U.S. Often, a small amount of seeds that fits in a letter envelope will get to the recipient without getting confiscated, but technically that is illegal.

The one big reason why it is useful is that you don’t have to get the dreaded phytosanitary certificate to import the seeds. Every other type of plant material these days (including dormant bulbs) legally requires you to have to get the vendor to include a phytosanitary certificate in with the items. Depending on the country of origin, these are often expensive or hard to get or a big hassle for an ordinary person who doesn’t have a nursery to acquire one. Or the inspection is only done at one or a few places that may be far away from the sender. Or in some countries, the government won’t let an ordinary individual get one. So the seed permit is a huge improvement. (Of course prior to 9/11 importing bulbs into the U.S. from any country didn’t require a permit or anything!)

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

> On Mar 1, 2021, at 7:57 PM, Lucas Bittof via pbs <> wrote:
> Hey everyone,
> I am hoping I could get some help with how to order seeds that would have to travel across borders, in my case from the EU into the USA. I would like to order some seeds from and am confused as to how to go about that. Since I am ordering a small amount of seeds that can only survive indoors, can I just order them or do I need to do anything special? The website indicates I need a permit for small lots of seeds but that appears to be outdated. And when I look online I find all kinds of answers directing me all over the place. I would greatly appreciate any help or advice.
> Also, if it looks like it would be reasonable for me to order seeds from them, does anyone have any experience with them? How did it go? I have ordered plants online many times now, but never seeds or internationally, much less both.
> Thank you very much,
> Lucas Bittof
> Zone 6-7
> _______________________________________________

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