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Seed Swaps with the US are on again!

16 years ago

I don't suppose this is common knowledge in the US yet, so perhaps one of the US members visiting here will pass it on by posting on the Seed Exchange. The North American Rock Garden Society have been working with APHIS for some time to try and work out a system for getting small quantities of seed into the US without the problem and expense of phytosanitary certificates. A new system is now up and running, or at least up and ready to run. This is how Joyce Fingernut of NARGS explains it:

"The APHIS web page for plant import permits now has a live link for Small Lots of Seed. Please go to:
and click on the Small Lots of Seeds Program. From there, you can click on "PPQ Form 587" (a form that is used for many kinds of plant permits) to download, print, and fill it out. Page 2 of the form has special instructions for the small lots of seed permit. There are only two lines that require special wording; the rest is your personal information. Then the completed and signed application needs to be faxed or mailed to the number or address at the end of the instructions (page 3).

[Alternatively, there is a new ePermit available, so that you can do all your work online, but you must first go through the process of eAuthentication. For more information on that, check:]

You will receive a permit to import small lots of seed (according to the requirements listed on the permit), and several green & yellow mailing labels, with the address of the Inspection Station already printed on them.

Once any US resident has this permit, he/she can bring in small packets of horticultural seeds (such as the ones from seed exchanges, or private seedhouses) without asking the overseas/Canadian exporter to provide those costly phytos.

As the importer, the person in the US will send with the seed order:

- a copy of your import permit (xeroxed)

- one green & yellow label

- and, to be helpful to your exporter, a label that is clearly printed with your own name and address.

Your overseas/Canadian exporter (whether an organization's seedex, or a seedhouse, or a friend) will place inside the package with your seeds (which are labeled and listed according to the requirements on the permit):

- the same copy of your permit

- the label with your name and address (perhaps clip it to the permit, so it can easily be found later)

The exporter will paste the green & yellow label on the outside, to direct the package to the Inspection Station. At the Station, your seeds will be checked and then resealed, and your own mailing label will be pasted on the outside of the shipment. The whole thing will be returned to the mail system, and forwarded to you."

In practice, this is probably how it works:

(1) The person in the US gets an import permit and some special labels.

(2) They send a copy of the permit and the labels to the person outside...

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