(For imports or exports of animal products)

If all your materials purchasing and sales activities are confined to U.S. companies or customers, there’s no need to apply for an FWS permit or license or to fill out FWS forms. But if importing or exporting wildlife materials (or products containing them), it will be necessary to get an FWS Import/Export Permit/License and then for every shipment to fill out an FWS Declaration Form 3-177. As of 2011 this License fee is $100.00, which must be paid and renewed every year. Although FWS is supposed to mail you an annual reminder, you still remain legally responsible for keeping the License updated even if no reminder notice is received, so it’s a good idea to mark the renewal date on your calendar.

A main focus of U.S. Customs and FWS is on wild animal and plant materials, including any products from the limited commercial farming of otherwise wild species (such as the marine shells used in inlay work), rather than traditional domestic animals and plants. Thus, products from cow, horse, pig, sheep, etc. don’t generate much scrutiny as long as declared properly with their appropriate tariff classifications, and these shipments can be cleared “informally” if under $2,000.00 in value for imports or $2,500.00 for exports.

There will be a mandatory “inspection fee” charged on any given shipment that contains any fish or wildlife material (see note in the next section), whether it’s one tiny item or a container load.

NOTE: Regulations demand that “any shipment requiring a permit” may not be cleared informally regardless of how small it might be (no de minimis exceptions: Q&A no. 9); BUT although shipments containing any amount of wildlife products do require a FWS Import/Export Permit/License, this “permit” is not what the law is referring to – formal clearance is necessary only when species-specific permits are involved (such as those discussed previously in Section 2), or the value exceeds those stated above.

Although mentioned earlier, it’s important to reemphasize that when shipping or traveling only 18 ports of entry to the U.S. are authorized to process any wildlife or plant shipments which are commercial or require a species-specific permit: Anchorage, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. If using one of these ports will create substantial financial hardship, an exception permit can be applied for which would allow clearance at a non-approved port. Non-commercial shipments which do not require a species-specific permit, such as personal or household effects, may use any port.

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