Well, I have an update on trying to move my CP collection to Canada, and I am ready to let you know what my experience has been. My situation is that I am moving my entire household from the USA to Canada to attend graduate school. I have 40 carnivorous plants about half of which are CITES Appendix II protected species. Overall, the most difficult portion of the task was getting accurate information, since international moves with collections of CITES Appendix II species is not an everyday occurrence. Customs and wildlife officials seem to be most familiar with tourists who illegally import a CITES protected species but are less familiar with the legalities of household moves.
I sent emails in April to both Canadian (AIRS and CIFA) and US officials (APHIS and the US Fish and Wildlife Service). The Canadians said that I would probably need a phytosanitary certificate from the US because of a pending change in the import regulations but to check back in June. The US officials said that I would need a CITES export certificate.
I filled out and submitted a 3-200-32 Petition for CITES "HOUSEHOLD PLANTS/SINGLE SHIPMENT" export/re-export permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The cost of this was $50. The permit was ultimately rejected on two grounds:
1. They required a destination address. Of course, I don’t have a destination address yet. I’m a student who rents. However, the documentation was another issue. I have mostly man-made hybrids, e.g., seed-grown neps from crosses made in the USA. There is no way they could have been poached! But common sense does not apply here. But then again, CITES is not about protecting endangered species; it’s about restricting trade in endangered species. Restricting trade in hybrids does close a loophole that could be exploited.
2. Insufficient documentation to prove that I didn’t poach the plants.
Nevertheless, US Fish and Wildlife demanded to know that the original parent plants were brought legally with CITES permits—as if I would know that. Receipts of purchase or transactions of trades were considered to be insufficient and irrelevant unless I could prove that the people I got them from had CITES permits. The US Fish and Wildlife Service was the worst agency I had to deal with—they were ignorant, incompetent, bureaucratic, obstructionist, and skirted very close to the legal definition of slander by implying at one point that I may be a poacher—the cheek!
At this point I was considering giving up half my collection. I even gave away some of my plants.
In the meantime, I looked into the process of getting a phytosanitary certificate. This could have been potentially the worst hurdle for me to overcome. Unlike the CITES export certificate which would affect only half my collection, failure to get a phytosanitary certificate would have affected my entire collection: sarrs, neps, dews, pings, utrics… everything. And again, the greatest hurdle here was the dearth of information.
First, there are two kinds of phyto certs: one issued by the state and one by the USDA. The USDA is the only one that would have been acceptable; a certificate issued by the Illinois Dept of Agriculture would not have sufficed for an international move. In order to obtain the USDA certificate, I would have had to create an account on the APHIS automated system, http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_exp...rts/pcit.shtml and paid the $70 fee in advance, then show up at my scheduled time at the USDA inspection station at the Port Huron port of entry.
Now, there is some confusion over phyto certs. The inspectors are not looking for aphids, scale, thrips, mealybugs, or any of those other common infestations that are ubiquitous. They are inspecting for signs of exotic pathogens and infestations, such as, Emerald Ash Borer, giant African snail, black spot of Japanese pear, apple proliferation phytoplasma, barberry, carnation tortrix, watermark disease of willow, pale cyst nematode, black rot of grape, Andean potato latent virus, and leaf spot of hemp.
Things began to turn around when I emailed the Canadian CIFA official this month. She said that it would not be necessary for me to get a phyto cert, because the new regulations would not be put into effect until September 2010. The only stipulation is that I must personally accompany my plants through the border crossing and limit the number of plants to 50 or less. So, at this point, half my collection was saved.
Then, this morning, I was reviewing Memorandum D2-3-2 on “Former Residents of Canada Tariff” regarding the importation of goods and the exemption of tariffs on stuff brought back into Canada, and I noticed in section 64, a line that said, “some species imported for non-commercial purposes only are exempt from the requirements of the CITES permit requirements.” The memo said to consult the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, which is Canada’s implementation of the CITES convention, http://www.cites.ec.gc.ca. Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations SOR/96-263 stated in Section 15(1):
Subject to sections 16 and 18, an individual is exempt from holding an import or export permit issued under subsection 10(1) of the Act for any animal or plant, or any part or derivative of one, that is listed in Schedule I but not in Schedule II or Schedule III and that is a personal effect or a household effect…
Note that “Schedule” a schedule for the act and is not the same as the CITES “Appendix.” Schedule I includes CITES Appendixes I-III. Schedule II is a short list of “other” animals always requiring import certs, e.g., Racoon Dogs and Mongooses. And Schedule III is a list of endangered species, e.g., Beluga Whales. No CPs are on either Schedule II or III.
Furthermore, I figured that these regulations must be a reflection the CITES convention wording. So I looked up the treaty and, sure enough, it was there in Article VII(3), “The provisions of Articles III, IV and V shall not apply to specimens that are personal or household effects.” In short, it is not a personal or household effect until you get it to you home in your country of residence, but once you get it home it becomes exempt from the export permit requirement if your entire household is moving. The only other requirement is that I would not be able to dispose of any imported CITES plant for at least 90 days after I arrive in Canada.
In conclusion, it appears as though I don’t need either a phytosanitary certificate or a CITES export permit for my collection of CPs as long as I am moving my entire household and I am accompanying my plants. Canada Customs will require me to sign a declaration that I am importing these plants as my household goods, and that is all the paperwork I will need. I would like to thank Canada Customs for providing useful assistance and making its regulations clear, without which I would have never known that I did not need an export permit. Conversely, I would like to thanks US Fish and Wildlife for wasting my time and my money.
I would be happy to field any questions, but be warned that I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice.