APHIS and imports to the USA


Old Timer
May 3, 2005
Looks like this board is not the only place baffled US invert keepers ask questions as to what is allowed or not allowed regarding invert importing. I thought this might be of interest to you guys stuck with all these regulations.

Cross-posted from the Entomology Discussion List at ENTOMO-L@LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA:

Greetings all,

I have just returned from meetings and collecting in Southern AZ to find
this discussion of permits. Having just attended a USDA importation
roundtable discussion about importation I will attempt to relay the
information I received.

First you need a 526 APHIS PPQ permit to import insects, in theory and
hotly debated I might add is weather or not predators are included.
When I do my permits I do include things like mantids on the application
just in case. Sometimes they are removed from the permit because it is
unnecessary and sometimes they remain.

You can apply for the permits online now but you need to be registered
with the USDA for the epermits system. This may require a quick trip to
your local USDA office.

Arachnids and the like do not need a permit. Although there has been
discussion about permitting wild caught African millipedes because in
recent studies they can carry herbivorous mites which are considered
plant pests.

They are currently not issuing any permits to private citizens for
keeping exotics in their homes because there are inspection issues with
private property and needing a warrant.

Some classroom permits are being issued.

Before the permit is issued you will need to pass a facility inspection.

You need a separate permit for interstate transport, even on natives.

The pet industry does not always follow these regulations and yes, you
can turn them in for this.

Although you don't need a permit to distribute the person who is
receiving the organism does need a permit and you can be held
responsible for distributing to a person with out a permit.

The permit application specifies the origin of the animal and that is in
fact the only source you are allowed to get them from so if there are
multiple sources in multiple countries you should include them all.

USFWS also regulates but their permitting process is less stringent and
generally only for things coming in from foreign countries.

If you want to import farm reared Ornithoptera pupae you will also need
a CITES permit (this goes for other CITES listed species as well.)

Certain species that have been over-collected for the pet trade may also
soon be regulated such as; Pandinus, Brachypelma and even a number
African millipede species.

The regulations get stricter all of the time but part of that has to do
with the fact that USDA is now part of Homeland Security.

Hissing roaches are still being debated and the opinion of permitting
fluctuates from year to year.

There are also special distribution permits for companies such as
Carolina Biological but I'm not well versed on the details of those.

Whether or not this is all too stringent is not my call but hopefully
the above info will clarify the regs and process a bit.

Unfortunately I don't know of a good website with these regs on it.


Celia Whitman
Albuquerque BioPark
Insectarium Consultant




AB FB Group Moderatr
Old Timer
Apr 23, 2004
thanks for the info :) It still surprises me that some people are willing to be so blunt and open about what pets they do have that are illegal and/or ask where to get others. There have been a few posts of members here being visited by the USDA, there have been more than a few posts regarding what is/is not legal and the reasoning behind it as well as what permits are needed (and are pretty much impossible to get).


Aug 3, 2007

Thanks, Mat! :clap:

I spent hours looking for something online the other night and only managed to find epermits for moving animals, not keeping them in my classroom. It was so frustrating. I went to my state website and they only talked about pests that were eating our produce or threatening our wetlands...apple maggots, purple loostrife, blah, blah. The last thing I want is to have illegal walking sticks or African millipedes in my classroom.