05-07-2012, 12:22 AM
1.) Importing plants through international sellers on EBay is problematic.
The sellers will often say that they are not responsible for any kind of losses or confiscation because there are actual laws, rules, and regulations that come with legally importing plants in from a foreign country. Without making it overly complicated, a hobbyist from the US who would like to import plants from a foreign country will:
A.) Need a hobbyist plant import license that you can acquire from your local USDA-APHIS branch.
B.) Request that the seller provide a set of paperwork to get them declared, inspected, and ready for shipment. Those 2 pieces of documentation are:
i.) CITES certificate
ii.) phytosanitary certificate
Usually, these papers are not free. Most of the times, the seller charges you for these. However, sometimes deals can be made so that you will not have to pay for them, depending on the seller and the country the plants are coming from - (these discounts are usually cost related).
Different countries will have different prices for the CITES and phytosanitary paperwork. As a fyi, currently, the most expensive country to import plants from is Australia.
C.) Have to arrange to send the seller a shipping label that the USDA provides for you. Without it, the USDA may reserve the right to inspect the package, confiscate, destroy the contents or return the package to the sender even if you have all the other pieces of paperwork in order. It is also up to the discretion of the inspection officer if prior arrangements were made to let it slide one or two times if the package does not have this shipping label, should there be complications during the transaction.
2.) US Customs have been cracking down on international sellers a lot. Should you be caught importing plants internationally without proper documentation, the plants could be confiscated or destroyed. If they decide to be mean, they can also possibly slap you with a hefty fine.
Plus, if they do confiscate and/or destroy the plant inside the package, as what I consider a cruel joke, they will send the empty package on their merry way to you with a note that says the plant(s) were confiscated and/or destroyed. To make further sure you know they've gone through your stuff, they will seal the package back up with the USDA-APHIS logo on it.
Just so you understand the scope of it...
I have currently been working as a security officer for an import/export company. On the weekdays, the place is filled with US Customs agents to inspect foreign freight.
Last edited by King_of_orchid_growing:); 05-07-2012 at 12:00 PM..