Guide to Shipping Plants Internationally

Updated: 08/04/2024
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Houseplants are one of the hottest trends in home decor and lifestyle. From delicate succulents to lush tropical plants, greenery reigns supreme in homes, offices, and social media. Known for their air-purifying, mood-boosting, and aesthetically pleasing qualities, plants are hardly a new concept but with millennials and Gen Z resurrecting their popularity in recent years, our perception of them has transformed from a way to fill an awkward space to a true hobby and collector’s passion.

Plants sales worldwide are on the rise, and with many online shopping options opening up, plant enthusiasts are enticed by the prospect of obtaining rare and exotic species from around the globe to expand their botanical collections. However, before you order that variegated gem you’ve been eyeing for months, it’s a good idea to consider all the intricacies of shipping plants internationally. From import regulations to customs fees and quarantine requirements, shopping for plants from abroad requires some planning. In this article, we will explore the various factors that plant enthusiasts should take into account to ensure a smooth and successful experience when shipping plants internationally.

If you plan on shipping plants using a parcel forwarding address, please contact our customer service team beforehand.

Necessary Documentation 

When shipping plants internationally, several pieces of documentation may be required to comply with import regulations and ensure the safe and legal transport of plants. The specific documentation needed can vary depending on the origin and destination countries, as well as the type of plants being shipped. However, some common types of documentation include:

  • Phytosanitary Certificate: This certificate is issued by the plant health authorities of the exporting country and verifies that the plants being shipped are free from pests and diseases. It provides assurance to the importing country that the plants meet their phytosanitary requirements.
  • Import Permit: Some countries require import permits for plants and plant products to regulate their entry into the country. Import permits specify the conditions and requirements for importing the plants and may need to be obtained by the importer before shipping.
  • CITES Permit: If the plants being shipped are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a permit may be required to ensure compliance with international conservation regulations.
  • Customs Declaration: A customs declaration form may be required to declare the contents and value of the shipment for customs clearance purposes. This form provides information to customs officials about the nature of the shipment and helps facilitate the import process.
  • Plant Passport: In some cases, especially within the European Union, plants may require a plant passport or phytosanitary certificate issued by the exporting country's plant health authority to certify their health status and compliance with EU regulations.
  • Certificate of Origin: A certificate of origin may be required to confirm the country of origin of the plants being shipped. This document provides information about where the plants were grown or produced and may be needed for customs clearance or regulatory purposes.

Depending on the specific requirements of the importing and exporting countries, additional documentation such as invoices, packing lists, or certificates of analysis may be necessary to accompany the shipment.
It's essential to research and comply with the specific documentation requirements of both the exporting and importing countries before shipping plants internationally. Failing to provide the necessary documentation can result in delays, fines, or even rejection of the shipment at customs. Consulting with local plant health authorities or customs officials can help ensure compliance with all relevant regulations.

species compatibility and quarantine requirements

Species compatibility and quarantine requirements are critical considerations when shipping plants internationally to prevent the introduction and spread of pests, diseases, and invasive species. Here's an overview of what these entail:

  • Species Compatibility: Different countries have varying climates, soil conditions, and ecosystems that may not be suitable for certain plant species. Before shipping plants internationally, it's essential to research whether the species you're shipping is compatible with the climate and environmental conditions of the destination country. Some plants may require specific temperature ranges, humidity levels, or soil types to thrive, so ensuring compatibility is crucial to prevent the plants from failing to establish or becoming invasive.
  • Quarantine Requirements: Many countries have strict quarantine regulations for imported plants to prevent the introduction and spread of pests and diseases. Plants may need to undergo quarantine upon arrival in the destination country to ensure they are free from harmful organisms. Quarantine requirements typically involve inspection and testing of the plants by government authorities to verify their health status and compliance with import regulations.
  • Plant Inspection and Testing: Upon arrival in the destination country, plants may be subject to inspection and testing by government authorities to verify their health status and compliance with import regulations. Inspections may include visual examination of the plants for signs of pests or diseases, as well as laboratory testing to confirm their health status.
  • Treatment Requirements: In some cases, plants may need to undergo treatment, such as fumigation or disinfection, to eliminate pests or diseases before being allowed entry into the destination country. Treatment requirements are typically specified by the importing country's plant health authorities and must be followed to ensure compliance with import regulations.

Compliance with species compatibility and quarantine requirements is essential when shipping plants internationally to protect native ecosystems, agriculture, and horticulture industries from the potential risks associated with importing plants. Importers should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations of both the exporting and importing countries and ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent the introduction and spread of pests and diseases.

Costs and Fees 

The costs and fees for shipping plants internationally can vary depending on several factors, including the shipping method chosen, the size and weight of the plants, the distance of the shipment, and any additional services or requirements. Here are some common costs and fees associated with shipping plants internationally:

  • Shipping Charges: The primary cost of shipping plants internationally is the shipping charges levied by the shipping company or service provider. Shipping charges are typically calculated based on the size, weight, and destination of the shipment, as well as the chosen shipping method (e.g., air freight, sea freight, courier services).
  • Customs Duties and Taxes: Import duties, taxes, and customs fees may be applicable when importing plants into the destination country. These charges vary depending on the value of the plants, the country of origin, and the specific regulations of the destination country. Importers should be aware of potential customs duties and taxes and budget accordingly.
  • Phytosanitary Certificate Fees: If required, obtaining a phytosanitary certificate from the plant health authorities of the exporting country may incur additional fees. Phytosanitary certificate fees vary depending on the issuing authority and the type of plants being shipped.
  • Permit Fees: Some countries require import permits for plants and plant products, which may be subject to application fees. Importers should check the specific requirements of the destination country and obtain any necessary permits before shipping plants internationally.
  • Packaging and Handling Fees: Specialized packaging materials and handling services may be required to ensure the safe and secure transport of plants during transit. These services may incur additional fees charged by the shipping company or service provider.
  • Insurance: Optional insurance coverage may be available to protect against loss or damage during transit. Insurance premiums are typically based on the value of the plants and the level of coverage selected.
  • Brokerage Fees: If using a customs broker or freight forwarder to facilitate the import process, brokerage fees may apply. These fees cover services such as customs clearance, documentation preparation, and coordination with customs authorities.

Additional services such as expedited shipping, temperature-controlled transport, or tracking services may be available for an extra fee. Importers should inquire about these services and their associated costs when selecting a shipping method. The total costs and fees for shipping plants internationally can vary significantly depending on various factors. Consider all potential costs and fees associated with international plant shipping and budget accordingly to ensure a smooth and successful transaction.

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