USDA Permits & On-Hold Shipments
Lets get you some help with your USDA Permits & On-Hold Shipments.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires permits for products containing certain plant and animal ingredients that could threaten the U.S. food supply. The USDA issues its permits through its subordinate agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Veterinary Service Permits
The APHIS issues Veterinary Service Permits (VS Permits) for animal origin ingredients that could communicate diseases into U.S. animals including foot-and-mouth disease, avian flu, or Newcastle disease.

A VS Permit will outline controls necessary to ensure the safety of the imported goods. It will also require a foreign veterinary certificate issued by a veterinarian working for the government of the shipping country that certifies that the controls have been carried out. An importer must include the VS Permit and corresponding foreign veterinary certificate with the shipping documents it gives to its Customs Broker.

Plant Protection and Quarantine Permits

The APHIS issues a Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit (PPQ Permit) for plant-origin materials that are known to carry plant disease or pests that are a threat to U.S. agriculture. Like a VS Permit, PPQ Permits outline the terms under which plant products of concern can be imported.

Failure to Get a Permit

U.S. Customs and Border (Customs) enforces APHIS Permits and other safety requirements at the border. When a product requires a VS or PPQ Permit and/or certification, Customs will not allow a shipment of that product to leave the port without proper documentation.

When an importer lacks a required permit and/or certification, Customs will issue an Emergency Action Notification (EAN), requiring them to export or destroy the goods. Failure to comply can lead to Customs seizure or other penalties.

The best thing to do is to get the permits you need before you ever ship your goods.

However, if you end up in a situation where Customs is holding your goods, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attorney can help you get them released by correcting Customs’ understanding of the situation or by buying time with the government to get an emergency permit.

USDA Permits & On-Hold Shipments Terms to Familiarize Yourself With
Learning these terms will help you understand APHIS permits and EANs.

USDA – The United States Department of Agriculture; an executive department tasked with protecting U.S. agriculture and food supply.

APHIS – The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; an Agency within USDA tasked with animal and plant welfare including prevention of disease and pests in U.S. agriculture.

VS Permit –A Veterinary Services Permit, which sets the terms of importing animal origin ingredients that could spread disease to U.S. animals.

PPQ Permit –A Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit, which sets the terms of importing plant origin ingredients that could spread disease or pest to U.S. agriculture.

Customs or CBP – The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a federal law enforcement agency tasked with policing all U.S. ports, which includes, inter alia, screening goods for safety, collecting duties, and counter-terrorism.

Customs Broker – A professional licensed by the government to file entry documents with Customs.

Customs Ag – A colloquial term for Customs Inspectors that inspect agricultural products at the port. They are tasked with enforcing APHIS import requirements, among other things.

EAN – An Emergency Action Notification, which Customs issues for products that do not comply with the law. An EAN will require the importer to treat, export or destroy violative goods, typically within 48 hours.

On-Hold Shipment – A filing with APHIS that will cause the APHIS to issue a VS Permit on an emergency basis. This is an expedited process conditioned on payment of a large fee ($565 to APHIS).

How an FDA Attorney Can Help

We can help you identify your need for a permit, file the permit application in USDA’s ePermits system, and guide you on how to use it. If you have received notice from Customs that you need a permit, we can quickly and expertly file the permit application and On-Hold Shipment notification. Finally, we can represent you before APHIS and Customs to give you the best chance of getting your goods out of the port and to your Customs.

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