- Certain plants and plant products listed on the APHIS Implementation Schedule require an import declaration under the Lacey Act. As of October 1, 2021, additional products will require this declaration, including wood-based essential oils; wooden trunks, cases and suitcases; wooden packaging containers such as crates, crates, crates, drums, containers, pallets and pallet boxes; and some wooden musical instruments such as bagpipes, clarinet, flutes and piccolos, and some stringed instruments.
- Importers of plants and plant products should carefully review the list to confirm whether their products are subject to import declaration requirements and ensure that accurate information is submitted, to avoid heavy penalties.
What does the Lacey law require?
The Lacey Act (16 USC § 3371 – 3378) combats illegal trafficking in wildlife, fish, and plants and makes it illegal to import certain plants or plant products without an import declaration. APHIS is responsible for collecting declarations of imported plants and plant products and defines the scope of plant materials that require the import declaration.
Plants and plant products that require an import declaration, including those subject to this requirement on or after October 1, 2021, are identified based on the Harmonized Tariff Classification of the United States Customs Tariff (HTSUS) listed on the APHIS Implementation Schedule found here.
The import declaration, which is typically submitted through the Automated Trade Environment (ACE), must include the following information:
- Scientific names of plants
- Country of harvest
- Product value
- Amount of plant material in the shipment in metric units of measure
- Importer name/address
- Consignee name/address
- Code HTSUS
- bill of lading
- container number
- Manufacturer Identification Code (MID)
- Description of shipment
- Name/contact details of the importer of record or his agent who certifies the accuracy of the information on the declaration
Failure to submit the import declaration or providing false information or incorrect labeling of the plant or plant products could result in civil or criminal penalties. Civil penalties range from $250 to $10,000 and criminal penalties apply to individuals versus corporations. The criminal penalty for individuals can be up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or double the gross gain or loss. For corporations, the criminal penalty is 5 years probation and a fine of up to $500,000 or double the gross gain or loss. Restitutions and confiscations may also be imposed.
What importers need to know
Businesses importing plants or plant products should verify that their products are classified under one of the tariff provisions set out in the APHIS Implementation Schedule. Products included in the schedule will require an accurate import declaration to avoid penalties and/or seizure. Certain plants and plant products may also be subject to other regulations and permit requirements.