(For exports of plant materials or products)
When exporting plant materials or products in any form (such as parts or completed products), it will be necessary to use one or more of these USDA/APHIS declaration forms, including the PPQ 621 shown in SECTION 6:

PPQ 572: Application for Inspection and Certification of Domestic Plants and Plant Products for Export. No fees involved. No Phytosanitary Export Certificate can be issued until an application is completed. PPQ-572 is designed to provide the information needed to complete PPQ Forms 577, 578, and 579, and to serve as a worksheet for the certifying official conducting the inspection. Although this form is required by regulation, in practice, alternative methods are used to obtain the necessary information for inspection and certification. When a PPQ Form 572 is used by an exporter as an application, the exporter should complete only the Description of Consignment section. Certifying officials are supposed carefully check that extraneous information was not included on the form by the exporter.

Wood products such as plywood, wood veneer, and unfinished furniture or parts might require a PPQ 578 Export Certificate, but only if Forms 577 or 579 cannot be used. It’s possible that port authorities may try to demand a 578 for guitars, but they would be mistaken and can be successfully challenged.

PPQ-578 (see Figure 3-9-1 on page 137): Export Certificate, Processed Plant Products. No fees involved.
PPQ Form 578 is an accountability certificate used to certify some types of processed plant commodities. Its purpose is to assist U.S. applicants whose shipments may be placed in jeopardy if such a document is not issued. It was created by PPQ to fill a void where no other government certification existed, and may only be issued for those processed products listed in the Commodities Eligible for a PPQ 578 section of EXCERPT (paid subscription needed for access).

Phytosanitary Certificates (577 & 579) are usually for “fresh” plant material – fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, live plants, etc., but are included here because there seems to be confusion in the guitar industry about their use, and also sometimes with customs brokers, and POE inspectors (all of whom can be challenged about using it).

PPQ 577: Phytosanitary Certificate. No fees involved.
The Phytosanitary Certificate, PPQ Form 577, is used to certify that the domestic plants or plant products have been inspected according to appropriate procedures, and they are considered to be free from quarantine pests, practically free from other injurious pests, and conform to the current phytosanitary regulations of the importing country.

PPQ 579: Phytosanitary Certificate for Reexport. No fees involved.
The Phytosanitary Certificate for Reexport, PPQ Form 579, certifies that, based on the original foreign phytosanitary certificate and/or an additional inspection, the plants or plant products officially entered the United States, are considered to conform to the current phytosanitary regulations of the importing country, and have not been subjected to the risk of infestation of infection during storage in the United States.

Full details about the procedures, definitions, restrictions, and allowances for importing and re-exporting woods can be found in the USDA/APHIS Cites I-II-III Timber Species Manual. Section 1 is the Introduction, 2 is Importation, and 3 is Re-exportation.

For a list of document fees involved in exporting plant materials, see here.

To determine declaration requirements on plant products of countries other than the U.S., these two databases are available:

1) USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) track and certify compliance with plant health standards of importing countries. An account can be set up by an organization for the use of its members on USDA’s Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT).

2) The phytosanitary certificate requirements of more than 250 countries are listed and updated by the Export Certification Project (EXCERPT) at the Center for Environmental and Regulatory Information Systems (CERIS), part of the Entomology Department at Purdue University. Full access to the EXCERPT database is by annual subscription but free public access is planned in the near future.

These various declaration requirements allow border agents to verify whether a physical inspection of the wood involved agrees with what is being declared in the documents. In practice, until such time as any wood (or animal product) is actually physically examined at a POE, inspection agents are free to assume it may be a listed species until the shipper or recipient can prove otherwise.

CITES I, II, and III species all require general licenses and/or species-specific permitting, such as the FWS Import/Export Permit (for animal materials) or the APHIS PPQ Forms 585 and 621 (for plant materials – see next section); and shipments containing wildlife can only be cleared at 18 specified ports of entry (not all ports). A shipment which contains wildlife material or requires any type of species-specific permitting must go through a “formal clearance” procedure, regardless of its size or value (Q&A no. 9):

9. Is there a de minimis exception?
The statute does not provide for any de minimis exceptions, either to the substantive prohibitions or to the declaration requirement.

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