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Import, Export, Transport Permits

Infectious Agent
Shipment of many substances is regulated

Domestic transport, import, and export of infectious substances may require a permit or license from federal agencies prior to transport. Researchers are responsible for submitting the application and obtaining the permit, and for following all packaging requirements (see Shipping Infectious Substances webpage). The summary below is intended to help researchers determine whether the material being transported requires a permit or license. Most permits are issued to the individual, not to the institution. Contact the BSO at 5-3975 for further information.


Import Permits

  • Microorganisms that cause disease in humans (etiologic agents) require permits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for import into the US from a foreign country. Etiologic agents are defined as: 1) any microorganism or biological toxin that causes disease in humans; 2) biological substances such as blood and tissues, when known or suspected to contain an infectious agent; 3) live insects, such as mosquitoes, known or suspected of being infected with any disease transmissible to humans; and 4) any animal known or suspected of being infected with any disease transmissible to humans. Import permits are issued to the individual, not the facility. The import permit, along with the proper packaging and labeling, will expedite clearance of the package through the U.S. Public Health Service Division of Quarantine and release by U.S. Customs. Application for the permit should be made at least 10 working days in advance of the anticipated shipment date. Further information and application forms may be obtained at CDC website.
  • Microorganisms that cause disease in livestock require Import permits from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for import into the US. Permits are also required for import of biological reagents containing animal material (this includes tissue culture media containing growth stimulants of bovine origin such as calf serum). Import permits are issued to the individual, not to the facility. Further information and application forms may be obtained at USDA/APHIS website.

Domestic Transfer permits

  • Microorganisms that cause disease in livestock require transfer permits for domestic transport within the US. Transport permits are also required for biological reagents containing animal, material (this includes tissue culture media containing growth stimulants of bovine origin such as calf serum). Permits are issued to the individual, not to the institution. Further information and application forms may be obtained at USDA/APHIS website.

Export License


Other Permits

  • Permits are required from the USDA/APHIS for interstate movement, importation, or release into the environment (i.e., field tests) of genetically engineered organisms that are plant pests, or that contain portions (plasmids, DNA fragments, etc.) of plant pests. Application should be made at least 120 days in advance of the anticipated release or shipment date. Information and applications may be obtained at USDA/APHIS's website.
  • Prior approval is required by the CDC and USDA/APHIS for transfer of select agents and toxins. Please contact the BSO at (301) 405-3975 if you believe your work may include select agents.