Taking Plants Back to the US from Canada
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Nancy Heraud
Posted on: May 12, 2008

I was thinking of coming to Canada for visit to your greenhouses. I saw on the Q & A page that there is no problem bringing plants back to the US, but that was in 1999. Unfortunately, I heard of a local woman who had her plants taken when she got to the border after visiting Richters. I can’t tell you exactly when she was there however. Can you give me the correct answer because I would love to come for a visit but it isn’t the same when you can’t take plants home.

Our greenhouses are preapproved for entry into the U.S. We participate in a USDA-approved program in which are plants regularly inspected. This is how we are able to ship plants to the U.S. as we have for many decades. There are a few conditions however which must be met in order to avoid problems crossing the border with our plants:

1. It is essential to have a proper Richters invoice with a yellow USDA-approved sticker to certify that the plants are grown under the Canadian Greenhouse Certification Program. If the woman you referred to did not advise our sales staff that she is planning to take the plants back to the U.S. then she would not have the proper paperwork needed and she will have problems at the border. The usual sales slip printed by the retail store cash register is not sufficient for crossing the border.

2. Not all border points have USDA staff on duty. We recommend that visitors returning to the U.S,. go through the major border points where USDA officials are regularly on duty. For most customers, we recommend crossing at the Peace Bridge at Buffalo. That’s where we cross the border with our products every week and we can verify that USDA officials are on duty from morning until late evening.

3. There are a few plants that are not allowed entry into the U.S. The ones we grow are curryleaf (Murraya koenigii), hops (Humulus officinalis), limeleaf (Citrus spp.), and rue (Ruta graveolens). Also, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) cannot cross without a Protected Plant Permit from the USDA (applied for in advance) and without a CITES certificate provided by us.

In all the years that we have sold plants to U.S. customers we are aware of only one or two instances where a U.S. Customs agent was unfamiliar with the USDA-approved program and plants were incorrectly confiscated. If any U.S. customer has problems taking plants back we definitely want to know. We will replace any plants that are taken for whatever reason (unless prohibited, in which case we will refund the money), and we will ship the replacements at our expense.

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