So you're thinking of importing those lovely wooden benches you made into the US to sell on Amazon. Did you know you will need to report the scientific species of wood you used as well as from where it was harvested in accordance with the Lacey Act? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires importers to report specific information on the Lacey Act Declaration Form. This information is in addition to the US Customs reporting requirements.
About The Lacey Act
A bit of history to get you up to speed. The Lacey Act was first enacted in 1900 and amended in 2008. According to the Federal Register, Lacey Act Implementation Plan: De Minimis Exception, it now makes it unlawful to, among other things:
- “Import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant” with some limited exceptions;
- Import a plant “taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law,” or in violation of any State or foreign law that protects plants or that regulates certain specified plant-related activities; and
- Make or submit any false record, account, or label, or any false identification of any plant.
What Goods Require A Lacey Declaration?
There is no list of plants that the Lacey Act regulates, because the act applies to all plants, as defined in the statute. Under the Lacey Act "plant" means roots, seeds, trees, and products made of trees or parts thereof.
Basically, if it is made of wood, you will need to report the following data through your customs broker, via a Lacey Declaration. This guide can help you make this determination, while this guide lists common products that require a Lacey Declaration.
What Goods Are Excluded From Lacey Act Reporting?
Goods that are excluded from Lacey Act reporting include:
- Plants that are cultivated and or produced on a commercial scale (except trees)
- Species, hybrid or a selection thereof that is produced on a commercial scale
- Common food crops that are raised grown or cultivated for human or animal consumption
- Plants that are NOT listed under the Endangered Species List (CITES)
A complete list of endangered species can be found here.
Required Information For The Lacey Declaration
Under the Lacey Act, importers of certain plants, plant products, and items that contain plant materials, are required to submit a declaration stating the imported plant’s scientific name, value, quantity, and country where the plant was harvested.
The Lacey Declaration must be completed by the importer or shipper of the goods and must contain the following details:
1. Estimated date of arrival
2. Entry number (this is where your customs broker comes in!)
3. Container number (if by ocean transport)
4. Bill of lading from the shipping company
5. Manufacturer's identification (MID) will be the name and address of the importer's name
6. Importer's address
7. Consignee's name and address
8. Description of merchandise
9. HTSUS number (the harmonized tariff code for the merchandise being imported) (need help to determine your HTSUS number? We can help!)
10. Value in US dollars
11. A brief description of each article, or component of the article
12. Plant Scientific Name (review your plant’s scientific name here)
13. Country of harvest
14. Quantity of each item
15. Unit of measure:
- m2 - square meters
- m3 - cubic meters
- No. - number
- pcs - pieces
- t - metric tons
- bf - board feet
16. If recycled material, include the percentage of recycled material it contains (0 - 100%)
Once completed, the declaration should be signed by someone who has first-hand knowledge of the shipment due to the fine implication. A fillable form can be downloaded here.
Violation Of The Lacey Act
According to the Forest Legality Initiative: Lacey Declarations Basics, “the declaration requirement is not subject to the “due care” penalty provisions under the Lacey Act. Civil and criminal penalties apply only to any person who knowingly violates the declaration requirements. However, any person who violates the declaration requirement, knowingly or unknowingly, may be assessed a civil administrative penalty of $250. Furthermore, any plant or plant product imported in violation of the import declaration requirements may be subject to seizure and forfeiture.”