New Controlled Import Permit Regulations Issued By USDA-APHIS

If you import plant material for research, trialing or under post-entry quarantine, you should familiarize yourself with the new Controlled Import Permit (CIP) regulations issued by USDA-APHIS. The CIP permit replaces the old departmental permits and also encompasses Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) agreements. The new CIP regulations went into effect on June 3, 2013.

The CIP will be the single type of permit authorizing import into the U.S. of otherwise prohibited or restricted plant material for experimental, therapeutic or developmental purposes. In addition, the CIP permit will replace the current Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) permit. Previously, some sections of the APHIS regulations allowed import under a departmental permit, while other sections provided for import under special conditions.

As you apply for a permit, your permit application must exactly reflect your plans, because permits will not be amended if your business plans change. Instead, a new permit will be required if time or volume changes are made. As APHIS begins to implement the new CIP, it is strongly recommended that you move to the electronic permitting process, if you have not already done so.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the new CIP regulations from SAF.

What kinds of plant materials must have a CIP permit?
Any plant materials listed in 7 CFR 319.37 as prohibited or restricted may be eligible for import for “experimental, therapeutic or developmental” purposes by the holder of an approved CIP permit authorizing that import and specifying its conditions. Anyone (companies, researchers, etc.) may apply for a CIP permit. A company could apply for a permit to import plant material to test diagnostic or clean-up techniques, or to import plants for trialing. APHIS will work with the applicant to develop the required mitigation measures.

Can I import plants for trialing under a CIP and then commercialize them? Or do they have to be destroyed? If your CIP application states you intend to commercialize and it is approved, then the material may be commercialized after the CIP is closed (and any corresponding Post Entry Quarantine is released).

What about Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ)?
Your state must approve a growing agreement request, which is then approved by APHIS and attached to the CIP. Because the purpose of the PEQ agreement and permit is to allow accurate monitoring of plant material under quarantine, a separate CIP number must be assigned to each shipment of plant material. If you are importing large quantities of plant material under a Post Entry Quarantine Agreement, you must obtain a CIP permit for each shipment. You are urged to contact APHIS if you are in this situation.

Will previously issued PEQ permits be “grandfathered”? 
Yes. However, new PEQ requests must be covered by a CIP as noted above.

What length of time does a CIP permit cover? 
A CIP permit is initially valid for one year, renewable for additional years with an annual review process.

Can a CIP permit be transferred? 
Yes, with written permission from APHIS. Prior to the departure of the original permit holder from a company or institution, the new person must obtain a CIP or the plant material must be destroyed.

How do I apply, and when? 
Apply electronically through the ePermits website at or by mail through APHIS as noted in the regulation. Permits must be submitted at least 60 days prior to arrival of the article at the port of entry.

A copy of the CIP must accompany each consignment, and all consignments must be shipped and labeled in accordance with the instructions in the CIP.

Click here to access a copy of the Final Rule as published by APHIS in the Federal Register.


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