Import Permit

We have become experts in moving plants internationally and phytosanitary protocol, and can help you with the paperwork and regulations involved in this.

Most countries in the tropics are signatories to the IPPC, the International Plant Protection Convention, which was established in 1952 to protect cultivated and wild plants from the introduction and spread of disease and pests.  Because of this you will need to obtain an Import Permit from your Ministry of Agriculture in order to import apple trees into your country.  The Import Permit dictates the conditions the exporting country's agricultural inspector uses to issue a Phytosanitary Certificate affirming the health and cleanliness of the plants.  Both the Import Permit and Phytosanitary Certificate must be on the outside of the box when shipping internationally.

What is an Import Permit?

In order to comply with the IPPC, an Import Permit among other things MUST:

  1. Say "Import Permit" on it (if the permit is not in English, an English translation must be included).

  2. Have a unique identifying number

  3. Have an expiration date

  4. Be signed by the issuing official

Without these items the export country's agricultural officials cannot issue the Phytosanitary Certificate.  Shipping plants internationally without an Import Permit and Phytosanitary Certificate will subject them to seizure, quarantine, and possibly destruction.

You will need to apply for the Import Permit with your Ministry of Agriculture.  Not all offices are able to do this nor all all the agricultural officials familiar with plant import protocol; the main contacts for plant importation for each country can be found at the IPPC website.  You can read the full text of the convention here that includes a model for the permit on page 17.

As the importer you are responsible for supplying the exporting country's agricultural officials an Import Permit compliant with the IPPC convention; as the exporter we are not liable for filling orders to any importer that cannot supply a compliant Import Permit.

Additional Declarations

A section on the Import Permit allows for requirements beyond the usual statement of "being free from harmful pests and disease" that is in the body of the Import Permit requirements.  An additional declaration may be something like "The rootstocks must be virus-certified and include the certification documents" or "The shipment must be inspected to be free from Erwinia amylovora (Fire Blight)".  These requirements are then complied with on the Phytosanitary Certificate by the exporting inspection agency.

Phytosanitary Certificate

The Phytosanitary Certificate is a certificate of inspection issued by the exporting agricultural inspection agency, usually at the national level.  There is usually a fee charged for this inspection, typically about $50 USD.  This cost will be passed on to the importer.

About GMO

There has been great concern by some countries about Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods being imported.  None of our material is GMO, as many are over a hundred years old and all of the varieties have been bred the old-fashioned way, either pollinated by bees or by hand, using only the genes that God gave the apple. Neither has any GMO apple has been approved in the USA for unrestricted release.  Click here for a sample letter from the USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service office stating as such.  It doesn't look like any will be coming soon either, as evidenced by this article

However any statement as such cannot be included in the "Additional Declarations" section of the Import Permit, as the agricultural inspection office can only certify regarding pests and disease, not genetic makeup.  Any Import Permit requiring this as an Additional Declaration will not be honored.

But the importing agency can ask for certification from the supplier that the material is non-GMO and include that on the Import Permit outside of the Additional Declarations area.  We can include a statement from our nursery certifying the material is non-GMO, and if specifically requested by the importing agency in writing, we can get a similar letter from the USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service that no GMO apple has been approved by the USA for unrestricted release.

Pest Risk Assessment

For countries that have never imported apple trees before, they may require an Pest Risk Assessment to see what the risks are for importing plant material from a certain location.  They typically will require a list of pests and diseases for apple in the area where the material is grown, along with a map showing the locations.  This documentation must be provided by the controlling agriculture agency, in our case the USDA-APHIS, which usually follows up with it by sending a Market Access Request.  We are able to provide this at no cost, but it is not a fast process, the last time taking about a year to complete.  The documentation will come from the USDA-APHIS office on official letterhead and signed, but the USDA does not stamp their letters or certify them with any special embossing; confirmation can be had of their authenticity by contacting the official listed.

Sample Documents

Here are some sample documents so you can see what they look like.

Import Permit
Phytosanitary Certificate
GMO Certification by the Supplier
Pest Risk Assessment Pest List
Market Access Request
Sample Apple Import Protocol (Belize)

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