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Import Declaration Requirement Narrowed for Goods Containing Plant Material

Monday, March 02, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A long-awaited regulatory change is reducing the number of goods containing plant materials that will require an import declaration under the Lacey Act.

As amended in 2008, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful to import certain plants, including plant products, without an import declaration that contains the scientific name of the plant, value of the importation, quantity of the plant, and name of the country from which the plant was harvested.

Under a new final rule issued by the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, effective April 1 there will be an exception to this requirement for imported products containing plant material that represents no more than five percent of the total weight of the individual product unit. This exception will be available provided that the total weight of the plant material in an entry of products in the same 10-digit HTSUS provision does not exceed 2.9 kilograms. However, this exception is not available for products containing plant material listed in an appendix to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

APHIS acknowledges that using percentage of weight may be a new process importers will have to develop to take advantage of this de minimis exception. However, APHIS anticipates that once importers have determined the percentage weight of an individual product unit and the maximum number of such units that will meet the de minimis threshold, they will be able to use that as a model for future shipments.

APHIS also notes that it may take some time for this exception to be implemented in the Automated Commercial Environment.

This rule does not include a proposed change that would have allowed importers to file a Lacey Act declaration within three business days of importation without facing any enforcement action or penalty for late filing. APHIS explains that commenters were generally opposed to such a grace period and there are already mechanisms in place to allow importers to submit corrections to declarations.

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