The Lacey Act: What Importers Need to Know

By | 2024-02-01T23:00:19+00:00 January 31st, 2024|Imports, Legislation|

The original Lacey Act dates back to 1900, and its purpose is to help prevent the trade of wildlife, plants, and plant products (including timber) that has been illegally taken, held, transported, or sold. The Lacey Act and its various amendments make it unlawful to import certain products without an import declaration.

What should importers know?

When you import plant products or items that contain plant products, you must provide an import declaration confirming that those plant products were legally harvested.

  • The import declaration must contain:
  • the scientific name of the plant
  • the value of the importation
  • quantity of the plant
  • the name of the country where the plant came from.

Since 2009, APHIS has been gradually phasing in the declaration requirements for more and more products, and is currently preparing for Phase VII. You can read about the latest Declaration Implementation here. There you can also find out which products currently require a declaration.

The following products do not require a Lacey Act declaration:

  • Common cultivars, except trees
  • Common food crops
  • Scientific specimens of plant genetic material used only for laboratory or field research
  • Any plant that is to remain planted or will be replanted
  • Packaging material such as wood crating, wood pallets, cardboard boxes, and packing paper, unless the packaging material itself is the item being imported

A declaration is also not required if the plant material in a product represents no more than 5% of the total weight of the individual product unit, provided the total weight of the plant material in an entry of products in the same 10-digit tariff provision does not exceed 2.9 kilograms.

Note: Plants and plant products protected under U.S. laws or international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Endangered Species Act, or any state law that provides for the conservation of indigenous species under threat of extinction must always be accompanied by a declaration if listed on the implementation schedule.

How to submit a Lacey Act declaration

There are two ways to electronically file a declaration:

  1. Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) – The primary method for filing Lacey Act declarations is through ACE. This automated system allows you to electronically file the data required by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its partner Government agencies, including the APHIS Lacey Act Program.
  2. Lacey Act Web Governance System (LAWGS) – You can also file the Lacey Act declaration through LAWGS, APHIS’ web-based system for importers who would otherwise file a paper declaration. Importers who are using ACE to file customs information and LAWGS to submit a Lacey Act declaration must indicate in ACE that they are filing their Lacey Act declaration through another method.
  3. Mail in a paper declaration – If necessary, you can file a paper declaration using PPQ Form 505.

To stay informed on import legislation and important updates, connect with a customs broker.