Importing Aquarium goods to the USA. Legally! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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Importing Aquarium goods to the USA. Legally!

Alright here is where this got started.

I LOVE collecting plants from the wild, right now I'm restricted to the USA and have found some great stuff over the past year. One of my best finds was stringy moss, other mosses as well waiting to be IDed.

I was on ShrimpNow.com I believe and was reading dom's journals of plant collecting trips in Malaysia, and well they are amazing! Shrimp, plants mosses all diffrent types of stuff. It sounds like a bunch of fun to go netting in the tropical countries like Malaysia. So I was wondering, What would the leagalities be in going on collecting trips around the world? Are there permits Required? Is it hard to obtain them? And many other questions are poping in my head, while I'm supposed to be reading my Social studies book on Civics while laying in my bed with the 55g in front of me, well let me tell you it took waaaay too long to read the 30 pages max in the section on none less than Economy.

So after I finish it I come down and get on the computer. Straight to my favorite search engine I go and Google something along the lines of "importing fish" or "bringing fish into the USA" and get these links

Bringing Agricultural Products Into the United States - CBP.gov
I know most people have seen this page so I reread through it.

Then got these pages,
USDA - APHIS

That led me to here,
National Center for Import and Export (NCIE)

And searching this sight I found this,
Importation of Pets and Other Animals Into the United States
Scroll ALL the way down to "other"

Now I'm not planning on going to Maylasia or South America to go collecting soon since im 14, (birthday in a few weeks,... so I'll be 15) But once I can I wouldnt mind finding some moss in South America, and other things around the world and bringing them back legally,

Soo.... What you guys think?

Also that is just for USA I believe, I would also have to check with country of where collection takes place and see what the rules are there. But hey who would love to take a nice vacation collecting some rare plants? or maybe brand new plants and fish?

Also, I'm not too sure on the legalities of plants, I have a feeling it would be very dependable on what types they are. But then, how do LFS get all their stuff legally from farmers in SE Asia?

Very Perplexed

- Andrew
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:37 AM
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I imagine the ultimate specimen collecting holiday would be to Cuba.
Cuba is a huge equatorial landmass full of freshwater lakes and rivers.
I know a German guy who came back with many unknown filter shrimp.
I'll bet Europeans & Asians are going there on plant collecting safaris,
leaving American's and our Castro hating guts without awesome plants.


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:44 AM
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I have an import license from U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Getting fish in the country is a lot easier than plants. I had to talk to at least a half dozen agencies to figure out what I needed to get the license and then if I needed permits for certain species along with collecting permits in the countries I would be collecting in. You might also need entry visa to those countries too. It can be quite interesting trying to figure all this out and getting the proper permits. Almost not worth it (not). I would start with the us fish and wildlife services. Plants you need to have them inspected by us agriculture and have the right permits in place too. If you are serious about collecting, I would find a good college to study either Ichthyology or botany with an emphasis on the tropics or aquatic plants. You can then get permits to collect in certain contries alot easier along with getting them back through customs. Almost makes me want to go back to school and get my masters!

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 02:00 AM
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best way to get plants in is to simply smuggle them, end of story.
trick is to return to the US from Europe, since they don't have dogs
that smell your luggage looking for live fruit and vegetables on flights
arriving from western Europe. i buy Cuban cigars in England and bring
them back every time to NYC without a care in the world. if I was
returning from Venezuela with cigars, they'd get confiscated every time.


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 02:46 AM
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best way to get plants in is to simply smuggle them, end of story.
ahhh yes... I am going to keep my mouth shut on this one. He even admits he smuggles cigars... oh well

US wildlife has nothing to do with the importation of plants. NOTHING. Its all the USDA. How they regulate it on baggage, I am not sure. You do have to have collecting permits in the countries you are collecting from. All you may need when leaving the country is a phytosanitary certificate from the country you are collecting from. Present it to customs when you re enter this country. They may tell you it has to be released by the USDA before you can take the plants with you. It would probably be better to have it sent by courier with the phyto to someone here in the USA while you are still there. Fed X or whoever you use will get it thru customs/USDA.

Remember if you are collecting wild plants, in order to pass the phytosanitary certificate the plants have to be completely washed and sterilized with no trace of dirt, soil, or any insects. When you get your permits over there, you can find out where the facility is in that country for the certificate and how much it will cost you. You can also get a fumigation certificate which certifies the plants were fumigated for insects and parasites.

You will need to identify each plant and have the name listed. USDA/customs will verify if the species are prohibited or not. Make sure the plant names are on the shipping manifest.

The only people I know who have brought back collected plants are Erik Olson and other AGA members who went on a trip to the Amazon. They can tell you more about what is involved, although Erik told me years ago that the regulations have stiffened up quite a bit since their trip. It may be easier to get permits if you do it on the grounds of scientific research and study.

Quote:
But then, how do LFS get all their stuff legally from farmers in SE Asia?
From legal importers like me, or they become importers themselves. Getting a permit to import plants is easy and its free. Actually getting the plants thru customs is trickier. An importer like me buys from a reputable exporter in the other country. The exporter has the permits on his end, gets the certificates, and does what is needed on that end to send the plants here. For you to go there and collect plants and bring them here, you have to do all the work on both ends. Much more complicated.

Robert Paul Hudson

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 03:21 AM
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Robert, good to know how it all works.

Thanks for the info!
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitepine View Post
I have an import license from U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Getting fish in the country is a lot easier than plants. I had to talk to at least a half dozen agencies to figure out what I needed to get the license and then if I needed permits for certain species along with collecting permits in the countries I would be collecting in. You might also need entry visa to those countries too. It can be quite interesting trying to figure all this out and getting the proper permits. Almost not worth it (not). I would start with the us fish and wildlife services. Plants you need to have them inspected by us agriculture and have the right permits in place too. If you are serious about collecting, I would find a good college to study either Ichthyology or botany with an emphasis on the tropics or aquatic plants. You can then get permits to collect in certain contries alot easier along with getting them back through customs. Almost makes me want to go back to school and get my masters!

Cheers, Whitepine

Great info, Maybe if you are still doing this stuff down the road I'll have to see if you will come . But I do think I will have one wackey degree field probably computers, botany, and medicine maybe But its all up in the air still I've got some time to decide .

It looks like the fish would deffinatly be the easy part, hence they said no special paperwork required. But I would still get the permit to make it that much easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spypet View Post
best way to get plants in is to simply smuggle them, end of story.
trick is to return to the US from Europe, since they don't have dogs
that smell your luggage looking for live fruit and vegetables on flights
arriving from western Europe. i buy Cuban cigars in England and bring
them back every time to NYC without a care in the world. if I was
returning from Venezuela with cigars, they'd get confiscated every time.
The whole point of this topic is to get the plants and fish that could be collected back into the USA LEGALLY! SO please Leave all thoughts of smuggling out of this topic. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert H View Post
ahhh yes... I am going to keep my mouth shut on this one. He even admits he smuggles cigars... oh well

US wildlife has nothing to do with the importation of plants. NOTHING. Its all the USDA. How they regulate it on baggage, I am not sure. You do have to have collecting permits in the countries you are collecting from. All you may need when leaving the country is a phytosanitary certificate from the country you are collecting from. Present it to customs when you re enter this country. They may tell you it has to be released by the USDA before you can take the plants with you. It would probably be better to have it sent by courier with the phyto to someone here in the USA while you are still there. Fed X or whoever you use will get it thru customs/USDA.

Remember if you are collecting wild plants, in order to pass the phytosanitary certificate the plants have to be completely washed and sterilized with no trace of dirt, soil, or any insects. When you get your permits over there, you can find out where the facility is in that country for the certificate and how much it will cost you. You can also get a fumigation certificate which certifies the plants were fumigated for insects and parasites.


You will need to identify each plant and have the name listed. USDA/customs will verify if the species are prohibited or not. Make sure the plant names are on the shipping manifest.

The only people I know who have brought back collected plants are Erik Olson and other AGA members who went on a trip to the Amazon. They can tell you more about what is involved, although Erik told me years ago that the regulations have stiffened up quite a bit since their trip. It may be easier to get permits if you do it on the grounds of scientific research and study.



From legal importers like me, or they become importers themselves. Getting a permit to import plants is easy and its free. Actually getting the plants thru customs is trickier. An importer like me buys from a reputable exporter in the other country. The exporter has the permits on his end, gets the certificates, and does what is needed on that end to send the plants here. For you to go there and collect plants and bring them here, you have to do all the work on both ends. Much more complicated.
For the Smuggling I don't want to hear any more about it.... as most of us wouldn't anyways

For collecting permits, I figured you would have to have them. But how strict are they usually do you know off hand? I figure it varies from country to country right?

I saw that on one of the websites I was searching, no surprise really. USDA is sooo strict!

As for each plant named and listed, What if it is say a new crypt? would you label it just generally as a crypt? Or would you just put all the crypts in one package and label them all crypts say? OR would that be summgling?

I wouldn't be suprised if the regulations would have become much stiffer. I'm not sure if Erik Olson has an account here, I wouldn't be surprised if he did. Maybe if he had some extra time he could post some info on what they had to do so everyone could see it, since I wouldn't be doing this for probably quite a few years.

As for permits Along the lines of "scientific study" it probably would be much easier, especially if say you go with some people from a local well known University or Collage. That is a great tip I would have to say!

So its pretty easy permit wise being an importer I would just have a hard time with customs? Thats cool, maybe it could help me get through Collage. But time will tell.

Lots of great Info here! Sorry for the long winded post
Thanks for all the info!
- Andrew
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:08 PM
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Anyone that buys Cuban cigars in England is not so bright. Why buy them in one of the highest taxed nations on earth. I'll bet he's paying 4X too much for his Cuban cigars. I would ignore his advice. Amateurish at best.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:10 PM
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If you don't have the money to go to College (and if you can't spell College at 14 I highly doubt you are headed there anyway) then collecting plants outside of the US is going to present some HUGE financial (that's money) problems.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:46 PM
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Anyone that buys Cuban cigars in England is not so bright.
VAT in England is 17.5% (not refundable on cigars)
VAT throughout Europe is between 15% and 25%.
VAT in Canada & Mexico on goods to the USA is 15%.
the UK has an embassy in Cuba, enjoys normalized
trade relations since 1999, which are getting more
favorable now that China invests so much in Cuba.
draw your own conclusions, just do it using facts.

I'm sorry if my realistic smuggling suggestion offended some peoples sensibilities here. The truth is when you hear of a foreign plant or animal wrecking havoc on an ecosystem here in the USA, it's 100 times more likely it was a past failed environmental "management" government implemented policy that cause it, not some idiot hobbyist dumping his fish tank in the river. during the first half of the 20th century our government created thousands of streams and lakes to benefit real estate developers and sports fisherman, then stocked them with foreign plants and fish that today have supplanted over half the indigenous fish populations, and drove many of their subspecies to extinction. Yet instead of the government cleaning up it's own messes, it creates layers of bureaucracy that not only hinders free trade, but keeps government workers safe from becoming another unemployment statistic.


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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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If you don't have the money to go to College (and if you can't spell College at 14 I highly doubt you are headed there anyway) then collecting plants outside of the US is going to present some HUGE financial (that's money) problems.
I'm not sure Rex I think your just trying to get your post count up . I had just gotten up and posted, wasn't really awake yet so I spell checked it MS Word, Well lets say that Collage is a word just not the same as the word College I was looking for but you understood what I meant and thats what really matters. And yes I know what Finacial means. thanks for all the spam Rex .

---------
Quote:
Originally Posted by spypet View Post
VAT in England is 17.5% (not refundable on cigars)
VAT throughout Europe is between 15% and 25%.
VAT in Canada & Mexico on goods to the USA is 15%.
the UK has an embassy in Cuba, enjoys normalized
trade relations since 1999, which are getting more
favorable now that China invests so much in Cuba.
draw your own conclusions, just do it using facts.

I'm sorry if my realistic smuggling suggestion offended some peoples sensibilities here. The truth is when you hear of a foreign plant or animal wrecking havoc on an ecosystem here in the USA, it's 100 times more likely it was a past failed environmental "management" government implemented policy that cause it, not some idiot hobbyist dumping his fish tank in the river. during the first half of the 20th century our government created thousands of streams and lakes to benefit real estate developers and sports fisherman, then stocked them with foreign plants and fish that today have supplanted over half the indigenous fish populations, and drove many of their subspecies to extinction. Yet instead of the government cleaning up it's own messes, it creates layers of bureaucracy that not only hinders free trade, but keeps government workers safe from becoming another unemployment statistic.

It doesn't offend me but The topic was how to do this LEGALLY Since smuggling would be the easy way out, Oh and the first time offence fine is $1000 SO I want to go about this legally when I eventually do it. And I know that lots of people Have thought about this, so why not see how it is done.

Thanks

-Andrew

Oh and Rex, When I graduate College I'll bring you a fruitcake so be prepaired for a Guy with a fruit cake at your door down the road .
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 08:17 PM
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i personally think, as im quite interested in doing the exact same thing as you know. That your largest "legal problem" would be collecting the mosses in soulth america without getting shot or sent to jail. I think that the easiest way would be to find a scientist in that are who has a collecting permit as for bringing the plants in i remember reading somewhere that certan commom house plants would be allowed in you could possibly bring the moss in as like a decorative top for the moss. Good luck mabey we can hook up in soulth america and do some feild work, right after i get a high paying job and can afford to get there! Just a hint certan countries ( Costa Rica ect ) have extremely strict rules about their wildlife! its a huge fine as well as jail sentince. They took almost all the money out of their army and put it into saving their enviorment and ecosystems. just my 2cents.


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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2006, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spypet View Post
VAT in England is 17.5% (not refundable on cigars)
VAT throughout Europe is between 15% and 25%.
VAT in Canada & Mexico on goods to the USA is 15%.
the UK has an embassy in Cuba, enjoys normalized
trade relations since 1999, which are getting more
favorable now that China invests so much in Cuba.
draw your own conclusions, just do it using facts.

I'm sorry if my realistic smuggling suggestion offended some peoples sensibilities here. The truth is when you hear of a foreign plant or animal wrecking havoc on an ecosystem here in the USA, it's 100 times more likely it was a past failed environmental "management" government implemented policy that cause it, not some idiot hobbyist dumping his fish tank in the river. during the first half of the 20th century our government created thousands of streams and lakes to benefit real estate developers and sports fisherman, then stocked them with foreign plants and fish that today have supplanted over half the indigenous fish populations, and drove many of their subspecies to extinction. Yet instead of the government cleaning up it's own messes, it creates layers of bureaucracy that not only hinders free trade, but keeps government workers safe from becoming another unemployment statistic.
It's not just the VAT but the tobacco tax.

Right now the Bolivar Coronas are going for around $400 a box in Britain. I can source them out at $156 delivered with Guaranteed delivery. English prices are sky high. I can give you more examples.

Bolivar Corona Gigantes English price $635, better price $239
Cohiba Esplendidos English price $1086, better price $445.

And of course those prices DON'T include the VAT in Britain.
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It's not just the VAT but the tobacco tax.
there are no excise taxes when you buy liquor or tobacco products duty free at Heathrow. the boxes don't even have tax stickers on them, but some box seals are broken since 9/11 for security reasons. I've never paid more than $200 for a 25 count box of Montecristo Cigars which are always 50% cheaper than Cohiba's (in cigars of comparable length and thickness). I don't smoke them, I give them as executive gifts and the recipients are thrilled to get anything from Cuba, and are not picky about brands as long as it's not their money being smoked. If you are ever at Lod airport in Tel Aviv, the J&R duty free has a 8'x12' walk-in humidor where you can buy the same cigars cheaper and fresher then even the English get them; and no they are not counterfeit. I have not purchased cigars for nearly 4 years, so prices may be 20-30% higher then the last time I stocked up mostly because the US Dollar is so much weaker. I don't pretend to know much about cigars. I only used them as an example of how easy it was to smuggle plant based materials in to NYC when there are no security dogs at that port of entry (from Western Europe) to smell them which is surprising since many bring in legally purchased cannabis seeds from there.


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-14-2006, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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i personally think, as im quite interested in doing the exact same thing as you know. That your largest "legal problem" would be collecting the mosses in soulth america without getting shot or sent to jail. I think that the easiest way would be to find a scientist in that are who has a collecting permit as for bringing the plants in i remember reading somewhere that certan commom house plants would be allowed in you could possibly bring the moss in as like a decorative top for the moss. Good luck mabey we can hook up in soulth america and do some feild work, right after i get a high paying job and can afford to get there! Just a hint certan countries ( Costa Rica ect ) have extremely strict rules about their wildlife! its a huge fine as well as jail sentince. They took almost all the money out of their army and put it into saving their enviorment and ecosystems. just my 2cents.
Yep, thats why we are talking about what permits and stuff you would need. If it would require a scientist with a legal permit then that would be part of finding the permits. And yes I knew Costa Rica is SUPER strict! When you are ready to do some field work pm me I'll come. As for the house plant thing, that's smuggling no no no smuggling. This is about how to do it legally!

Now PLEASE Rex and Spy take your discussions elsewhere, I wont ever smoke so I don't need to know the cost of cigars .

Thanks,
Andrew
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