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[Warning] International Shippers to the US - Know the LAW!

Discussion in 'Seller/Buyer/Shop Inquiries/Warnings' started by Michael Jacobi, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. Michael Jacobi

    Michael Jacobi RETIRED/RARELY USE AB Arachnosupporter

    To everyone,

    I am seeing an increase of advertisements placed by people out of the US quoting prices for shipping spiders and other livestock to the US. Some of these people may be wildlife agents looking to entrap buyers ignorant of US wildlife laws, but most seem to be genuine foreign dealers who don't understand, or more likely just don't care, that it is UNLAWFUL to receive ANY WILDLIFE from outside the US without having a USFW import/export license, filling out Form 3-177 and paying the $55 fee, and having the package arrive via air freight to one of the handful of US cities that have DESIGNATED PORT OF ENTRY and having it cleared by US Customs and US Fish & Wildlife. You CANNOT order directly from someone in, for example, Malaysia who is willing to ship to the US. He or she is not putting his or herself in jeopardy, this "exporter" is putting you in the position of breaking federal law and casting a black cloud on our hobby. They are not breaking the law... YOU ARE.

    In the end, what you do is your own business and I am sure some of you won't heed my warning. I just want to educate those who do care about following the law. BUY LEGAL, BUY CAPTIVE-BRED!

    Cheers, Michael
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2008
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  2. Windchaser

    Windchaser Arachnoking Old Timer


    Do you have a link to where we can get more information about obtaining an import/export license?
  3. Michael Jacobi

    Michael Jacobi RETIRED/RARELY USE AB Arachnosupporter

    Here's a link to a private site that has some info on the process:


    The USFW site is located at: http://www.fws.gov/

    Here's a link to a USFW page dealing with the SE Region that I am in:


    Finally, here is the page that links to all of the permits and the info:


    Of course, Frank Somma's article in ARACHNOCULTURE 1(2) covers many of the misconceptions hobbyists have about the importing process. In a nutshell, a permit is $100/YEAR and each 3-177 filing for each shipment is $55. Add to that $200-600 in international shipping charges, another few hundred bucks for a broker if the value of the order exceeds $2000, exchange rates and international wire transfer fees, travel to a designated port of entry if you don't live near one (mine is 3 1/2 hours away in Atlanta), etc. etc., and you will quickly find out why it is only worth the hassle/red tape/expense if you are purchasing 10 or 20 thousand dollars worth of animals.

    Cheers, Michael
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  4. Scylla

    Scylla Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Another little note...

    You can do this by the regs, 100% legal, but if the spider is shipped from the country of origin without proper export permits (if required), FWS will seize your shipment and throw a fine on top of that just to drive the point home. So you not only have to comply with US regulation, you have to make sure you're not in violation of foreign law.
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  5. I realize that this is an old thread but I am wondering if this is still accurate. I am hoping to import some scorps from Germany and have been researching it a bit. I found a link from the FWS that says you don't need a license if it is for personal use:
    (c) The following table includes some examples of when an import/
    export license is required:

    If I import into the United States or export . . . do I need an
    from the United States import/export license?
    (1) Wildlife in the form of products such as ...Yes.
    garments, bags, shoes, boots, jewelry, rugs,
    trophies, or curios for commercial purposes.
    (2) Wildlife in the form of hides, furs, or ...Yes.
    skins for commercial purposes.
    (3) Wildlife in the form of food for ... Yes.
    commercial purposes.
    (4) As an animal dealer, animal broker, pet ...Yes.
    dealer, or pet or laboratory supplier.
    (5) As an individual owner of a personally ...No.
    owned live wildlife pet for personal use.
    (6) As a collector or hobbyist for personal ... No.

    (7) As a collector or hobbyist for commercial Yes.
    purposes, including sale, trade or barter.
    (8) As a laboratory researcher or biomedical Yes.
    supplier for commercial purposes.

    Source Link: http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/2008/E8-29070.html

    Not sure yet if there is a permit required and plan on calling the local federal agency to verify some time this week.
    I checked with the state agencies here in California and they all said that no permits or licenses were required.

    Any solid info would be much appreciated as I really want to add those scorps to my collection but don't want to break any laws to do so.
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  6. Scylla

    Scylla Arachnobaron Old Timer

    If you're bringing in one, that would be considered personal use. If you're bringing in 10, that probably wouldn't . You would have to contact your local FWS office and convince them that the number is actually for your collection and not for sale. Let the Inspectors get to know you. Get a dialog going. They will be more inclined to believe that you really are bringing them in for your own collection if they know you beforehand. Just don't lie to them. Good luck.
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  7. I spoke to a local agent here in Los Angeles. I gave her the scientific name of the scorps and she said that I need to provide the following:
    1. File a declaration for importation that lists whatever is in the package (Form# 3-177)
    2. A copy of the airway bill
    3. A copy of the receipts for the scorps
    4. Copies of the export documents from the breeder.

    There is a $74 inspection charge but other than that there are no licenses required.
    I need to give them 48 hours notice before the package arrives.
    They need to be shipped to the air cargo terminal at LAX and I can pick them up after they are inspected.

    Notes: I already contacted the state authorities and they said there are no permits or forms required aside from whatever the federal government requires.
    I may be crazy (definitely a scorpoholic) but it is worth it to me to pay an extra 74 bucks and fill out some forms to get the critters I really want since I can't seem to find them anywhere in the states. Of course I may have to add a few more goodies to the list to amortize the cost a little:biggrin:
    Please don't construe any of the above as legal advice or a guarantee of the requirements in your state or local area.
    I will update the thread once it all goes through (assuming I am not in prison for forgetting to dot an i on the form):cry:
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  8. pocock1899

    pocock1899 Arachnosquire Old Timer

    This is an excellent and very helpful thread.

    To that end, I thought I would add a (not legally binding) bit to this thread, as well as some current links. These are just some basics, I'm not mentioning every single piece of paper you'll need to have. ...so try to have everything (receipts, waybills, copies, etc,).

    The Law: You’ll be importing wildlife, so that falls under Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR’s). Import/Export and Inspections are under Part 14.

    The Basics:If you are importing commercially (to sell), then you need an Import/Export License: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/tex...7&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title50/50cfr14_main_02.tpl

    Your shipment needs to be imported through a “Designated Port”. These are the designated ports. Find the closest one and try to work with them: Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii ; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington. Here is their contact info: http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/Designated_Ports.htm

    Personal versus Commercial. This is often a sticking point. What you may see as a nice personal shipment, the Inspector may see as a commercial shipment. Here is the definition of “Commercial”. It’s found under 50 CFR 14.4:

    Commercial means related to the offering for sale or resale, purchase, trade, barter, or the actual or intended transfer in the pursuit of gain or profit, of any item of wildlife and includes the use of any wildlife article as an exhibit for the purpose of soliciting sales, without regard to quantity or weight. There is a presumption that eight or more similar unused items are for commercial use. The Service or the importer/exporter/owner may rebut this presumption based upon the particular facts and circumstances of each case.”

    This is where it will help if you have established a prior relationship with the Inspector. Call them up while you are still in the planning stage and explain your situation. If you are importing a dozen or so spiders, this will help. However, if you are importing dozens or hundreds, you’re probably not going to convince anyone that it’s just a personal shipment. Just go ahead and get your license.

    When contacting an Inspector the first time, try and keep it brief and to the point. They are almost always busy. There are millions of shipments coming into the US every day, and there are only about 120 Wildlife Inpectors to deal with all of that. Bigger ports like Miami, LAX and New York are always moving. They'll appreciate it if you don't get too long winded. Also, not all of them are experts on spiders. Don't talk down to them and don't assume they know everything about every species you're importing. You might have to do a bit of education here, so do it in a friendly way. Inspectors at ports like Miami, LAX and San Francisco see more spiders, so they'll be more experienced with them.

    The license will cost you $100/year and each inspection of “live, non-protected, commercial” livestock will cost you $186. It doesn’t matter how much is in the shipment, it’s the same price for 10 spiders or 1000. (However, plan the actual day of your import, as overtime and weekend fees are even higher.) CITES species are considered “Protected” and so they will also cost additional.

    Here is the 2012 Fee Calculation Chart: http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/FeeCalculationChart.pdf

    You’ll need to file a Declaration (Form 3-177).
    Here is where you can get it, and info on filling it out: http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/faqs.htm

    Let me emphasize that the 3-177 must be accurate. You may need to emphasize that to your shipper/supplier. In some countries, if they like you, they tend to want to throw in a “freebie” or two. I’ve seen this cause huge problems with shipments. Animals that are not declared will not be received well by the Inspector. Your shipment will be delayed, and at worse, rejected for something like this.

    Additionally, depending on what country you are exporting from, there may be export licenses, fees, inspections, etc. Every country is different and all of the paperwork has to be in order and all of the numbers have to match. This can be a challenge when you are thousands of mile away. It’s not too bad if you are exporting from the EU or Canada, and if you have an experienced exporter on the other end. But, when you start trying to get spiders out of some parts of South America or Asia, you are going to find it much more complicated.

    While you can do it yourself, I would always consider the use of an experienced Broker for your first couple of shipments. They can help you navigate the complications. The biggest importers I work with all use Brokers to smooth the process. It’s a little more expensive on the front end, but it can pay off in the long run, by not having your spiders get seized for a paperwork error, or miss a flight and get stuck somewhere. For instance, animals have to be packed according to standards set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Otherwise, the air carrier may refuse to carry your shipment. A broker can deal with the shipper to make sure your spiders are packed correctly and safely. This might not be necessary for a couple of spiders coming out of Manitoba, but it could be essential for a few hundred coming out of Papua New Guinea. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

    If you are considering the import of arachnids, let me suggest you start here:

    Be aware, you may still have to deal with USDA, CBP or other agencies. When dealing with international trade, things are never as simple as they seem. Even the best planned shipment can go awry. Things like parasites on the animals in the shipments (it was actually ticks on a shipment of turtles), or insect stowaways in the packing material (like termites in the wood of the boxes) have stopped shipments. Be ready for anything.

    Remember, you need to do your homework for this, (don't blame me if I forgot to add something!). You are legally responsible for whatever is in your shipment when the Inspector opens the box.

    Good luck.
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  9. iamthegame06

    iamthegame06 Arachnosquire

    thank you so much for this! i've always wanted to know what the laws are about importing/exporting tarantulas since i travel a lot. Has anyone here actually went to another country and brought home a tarantula/scorpion? how was it? Was it too much of a hassle in the airport? Do you guys think that it's worth all the trouble?

    btw, Mr. Jacobi i bought your book Tarantulas (Animal Planet) it's a really good read :D
  10. Insektzuchen

    Insektzuchen Arachnosquire

    No USFWS Permit Is Required To import Wildlife As A Collector/Hobbyist For PERSONAL USE

    You are completely correct in your citation of Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 14.91 (ordinarily cited as 50 CFR Sec. 14.91). A USFWS import/export license is only required if you "engage in the business of importing or exporting wildlife for commercial purposes ... ." Some examples given are "an animal broker, pet dealer, or pet or laboratory supplier." Essentially, the criteria comes down to whether the wildlife is being transported in or out of the US for COMMERCIAL PURPOSES or for PERSONAL USE.
    The term "commercial purposes" includes sale, trade or barter.
    However, be advised that if you are found importing 100 sub-adult Vietnamese Centipedes from Southeast Asia, your actions will be construed as importing for resale or commercial purposes even if you intended to keep all of them as pets.:shame:
    On the other hand, if you are found importing 4 Scolopendra gigantea from Brazil, you can plausibly assert that your actions are those of an invertebrate collector or hobbyist importing the animals for personal use. {D{D{D{D
    Furthermore, if your imported "pets" have no real monetary value and were provided to you as a "gift" then the jurisdiction of US customs is usually not implicated.
    As for the bills, receipts and documents that should be on hand, those issues have already been adequately addressed.:sarcasm:
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
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  11. KcV420

    KcV420 Arachnopeon

    So if I live in the USA would it be illegal for me to purchase a tarantula from say the spider shop.co.uk ? no intention of re-selling. Just adding to my collection.
  12. Wali

    Wali Arachnopeon

    I ingun asked, I want to buy, the seller who can send scorpion to Indonesia.
  13. RTTB

    RTTB Arachnoprince Active Member

    I'll buy captive bred right here in the USA thank you very much.
  14. Wali

    Wali Arachnopeon

    Thank Your information.
  15. advan

    advan oOOo Staff Member

    Yes, if they ship directly to you avoiding customs inspections etc. Please read post #8.

    Your best bet is to find someone in Europe, their laws are more lax and some ship to Asia all the time. Be sure to also check your local regulations.
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  16. Wali

    Wali Arachnopeon

    well, thank you, do you have any friends in Europe, which sells scorpion ...? if there is, give me your email address.
  17. atraxrobustus

    atraxrobustus Arachnosquire

    The thing is that the freight service is supposed to be notifying people of all applicable import/export requirements before acceptance of a package. (As the freight service is also liable for this kind of thing.) UPS in particular has a nasty tendency not to be doing this.