Cannabis Seeds on Dark Background

In 2018, the US Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act) reclassified hemp seeds and removed them from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) controlled substances list. This means that correctly documented products, including cannabis seeds, containing less than 0.3% THC don’t require DEA permits and won’t be seized when exported to the US.

While there remains some confusion around which seeds fall under the Farm Bill’s ruling, recent clarification from the DEA states that all cannabis and hemp seeds fall under the legal definition of hemp. This is because, while a cannabis seed may potentially become a high-THC plant when germinated, the seed contains only a trace of THC, generally less than 0.1%.

However, while the Farm Bill has significantly improved the situation, successfully exporting cannabis seeds from the UK to the USA can still be challenging. This is particularly true for individuals or companies with no previous experience importing and exporting cannabis seeds. Seeds that aren’t sent with the correct documentation are still seized or may be subject to additional fees.

Rules on Exporting Cannabis Seeds – UK to USA

Now that hemp seeds are no longer under the control of the DEA, they fall under the regulation of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is responsible for monitoring all imported plants and seeds, including hemp and cannabis seeds, ensuring safe agricultural trade.

The rules that exporters must follow to export cannabis seeds to the USA successfully are as follows:

To ensure all seed shipments comply with these rules, they will be inspected at their point of entry into the US. US Customs and Border Protection will check the documentation to ensure it’s compliant with APHIS regulations.

What Must the Exporter Do?

To successfully export cannabis seeds from the UK to the USA and have them pass through customs without delay, there are six main tasks an exporter must complete:

  1. Register with the UK Plant Agency (APHA) – Before you can apply for the documents necessary to export seeds to the USA (including phytosanitary certificates), you must register as a professional operator with the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO). In the UK, it’s the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Following successful registration, they will issue you with a license or letter of enrollment.
  2. Prepare the shipment and create a commercial invoice – The shipment can then be prepared and packed ready for testing. At this point, most seed banks or breeders will create a commercial invoice and packing list showing detailed information about your seeds.
  3. Submit the seeds to APHA for testing – Once notified, APHA will collect the seeds and send them to their approved testing lab. This will likely be CannaEx Trades’ partner Fera Science. These tests are necessary for APHA to issue a Phytosanitary Certificate and confirm that the seeds are healthy and disease free. Fera Science will test for all the pests and diseases specified by the US Department of Agriculture. After about seven days, the testing will be complete and the seeds will be returned to you.
  4. Receive the Phytosanitary Certificate from APHA – Following successful testing, APHA will issue your Phytosanitary certificate.
  5. Compile all necessary documentation – At this point, you will have all the information needed and can proceed with compiling the required documentation. This includes:
    • Phytosanitary certificate – This proves to US customs that the seeds have passed the necessary testing and meet the standard required for import.
    • Intended use letter – Compiled by the exporter, this letter states the intended use of the seeds as ‘for gardeners looking to grow plants at home for beekeeping purposes, pest control, soil treatment, and/or other personal uses’. It also acts to confirm that the shipment and use of the seeds comply with those stated by Farm Bill 2018.
    • Commercial invoice – The commercial invoice and packing list provide additional information about the shipment, including commodity and strain data.
  6. Pack the shipment correctly and arrange collection – Once everything is ready, the shipment should be professionally packed with all the necessary paperwork and a clear label stating the strain names. Then the collection can be arranged with your courier. At CannaEx Trades, we only ever entrust our seeds to our partner, Expect Logistics. Because they’re experienced in transporting hemp and cannabis seeds worldwide, we know that shipping with them increases the likelihood of a compliant, successful shipment.

How Can I Make This Process Easier?

With the requirement for phytosanitary certification and various complex procedures, exporting cannabis seeds from the UK to the USA is still challenging. Even after the Farm Bill of 2018, shipments are still regularly seized by US customs because they weren’t sent with the correct documents. The best way to ensure a successful, compliant shipment of cannabis seeds to the USA is to work with an experienced partner like us here at CannaEx Trades.

At CannaEx Trades, we have many years of experience in exporting seeds to the USA. We know what to do to ensure success and have all the necessary registrations and licenses to streamline the process. We are the only UK company with all the required government licenses to export cannabis seeds to the USA legally. If you’re based in the USA and choose to work with us, we already have everything in place, so you won’t need to provide an import permit.

With over 25 years of experience in the industry, CannaEx Trades can offer everything from advice on genetics to seamless delivery direct to the end user. Thanks to our various partners, we can access everything the industry has to offer at the best prices. Acting as middlemen, we can provide as much or as little as you like, from applying for phytosanitary certificates to supervising and streamlining the export/import process.

All seeds purchased through us are derived from Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd) free parents and pre-tested by the UK Plant Agency to ensure a pristine start for your projects.

To find out more, reach out to us at the contact details below or via the contact form.