What Is The Lacey Act?

What Is The Lacey Act?

The Lacey Act is a US declaration that is a joint effort between the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the US Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. The act helps to combat the illegal trafficking of wildlife, fish, and plants by making importers declare further details about their imports if they include materials covered by the Lacey Act. It is particularly focused, in the case of commercial importers, on the importation of wood, plants, and wildlife that has been harvested illegally. 

Since 2008, the Lacey Act has slowly been expanding in scope ending with the most recent announcement of Phase VII. Depending on when you are reading this, it behooves you to pay attention to the details of this expansion before its implementation comes into effect on December 1st, 2024. 

If you have any specific questions about your imports - please get in touch with our Trade Advisory Team for our Partner Government Agency services.

Do I need to make a Lacey Act declaration?

Determining whether you need to make a Lacey Act Declaration is fairly straightforward. The following guide comes from and is further detailed on the APHIS website

You need to provide a Lacey Act Declaration if four things about your import are true: 

  • Your product contains plant materials 
  • Your product is classified under a Harmonized Tariff Schedule code listed on APHIS’ Implementation Schedule.
  • Your shipment is imported as a formal entry.
  • Your shipment falls under one of these entry-type codes

You do not need to provide a declaration if:

  • Your product does not contain plant materials. 
  • Falls into a a category of exempt products including some text
    • Common Cultivars and Common Food Crops,
    • Scientific specimens for lab/field research only,
    • Plants that will remain planted or will be planted/replanted
  • Your product Is hand-carried in luggage or mail.
  • Your shipment Is an informal entry
  • Your shipment contains a finished product that is not classified under one of the HTSUS codes on APHIS’ implementation schedule, even if some of the materials used to create the product might otherwise require a declaration 
  • Your shipment will not remain in the United States (in-bond movements and carnets), or
  • Your shipment meets the de minimis requirement

For specific details about how you can stay compliant with the Lacey Act, we encourage you to get in touch with our team today. Your specific situation may be more complex than this list allows for. For example, wood packaging materials do require a Lacey Act declaration under certain circumstances, but not others. It is always best to check in with an industry expert to make sure all your bases are covered.

What are the Lacey Act Penalties?

The penalties associated with breaking Lacey Act compliance can be quite severe ranging from civil penalties all the way to criminal penalties. The cost of such infractions can also range from $250 to up to $10,000 depending on severity, and in most cases, it will involve the forfeiture of the imported item in question. Infractions can also incur permit sanctions up to and including the suspension, modification, or cancellation of a broad range of federally issued hunting, fishing, and operational licenses. 

It goes without saying, that willfully failing to properly declare Lacey Act covered goods is likely to yield higher penalties and legal action. 

What is new with Phase VII?

The Lacey Act initially was created in 1900 but has been amended several times since then, most recently in 2008 with an effort to add a greater focus on logging while expanding the number of plants and wildlife that are protected by the act. 

The roll-out of this amendment began in 2009 and has steadily increased the amount of wildlife that requires a Lacey Declaration with the list culminating in the announcement of the most recent implementation - Phase VII which is due for implementation on December 1st. 

In the June 2024, APHIS announcement it was revealed that in this phase, “declarations will be required for all remaining plant product Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes that are not 100-percent composite materials.” 

This is the broadest range of goods yet, and it means that even importers who have imported wood and wildlife-based goods without declaring for the Lacey Act before are going to have to check the list of affected goods and reevaluate. 

Some of the items that will newly require declarations with Phase VII include: 

  • Handbags
  • Plywood
  • Laminated wood
  • Tools
  • Matches with natural wood stems
  • Products of natural cork
  • Products of bamboo and rattan
  • Footwear
  • Medical plants
  • And more.

For full information about the Lacey Act’s current status, what’s been rolled out, and what your business will need to do before importing, it is highly recommended you get in contact with a Customs broker or our Trade Advisory Service team. Regardless of when you are reading this, we will have the up-to-date information your business needs to stay compliant with the act.

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About Author
Breanna Leininger

Breanna has been in the industry since 2004 and has dealt with clearances and compliance concerns for a multitude of commodities for all ports of entry and all modes of transportation. She has a Bachelors in Communications, Bachelors in Political Science & Government, is a Licensed Customs Broker as well as Certified Customs Specialist. Breanna has been asked to be the speaker in a variety of events including the BC Agriculture Show, Doing Business in the US seminar and has been a contributor to Small Business BC publications. She was recently nominated for the NCBFAA Government Affairs Conference Emerging Leaders and Mentors by the NBCBA. She participates in the Northern Border Customs Brokers Association and the NCBFAA annual conferences in Washington, DC. Breanna has a deep passion for politics, global affairs, and how communication shapes policy and international business relationships. She feels very fortunate to work in an industry that allows her to take part in how policy impacts the global economy and domestic businesses of all shapes and sizes.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.
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