I thought I would post a quick (and not legally binding) primer on importing spiders from outside the US. These are just some basics, I'm not mentioning every single piece of paper you'll need to have. ...so try to have everything (receipts, waybills, copies, etc,).The Law
: You’ll be importing wildlife, so that falls under Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR’s). Import/Export and Inspections are under Part 14.The Basics:
If you are importing commercially (to sell), then you need an Import/Export License: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/te ... ain_02.tpl
Your shipment needs to be imported through a “Designated Port”. These are the designated ports. Find the closest one and try to work with them: Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii ; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington. Here is their contact info: http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/Designated_Ports.htmPersonal versus Commercial.
This is often a sticking point. What you may see as a nice personal shipment, the Inspector may see as a commercial shipment. Here is the definition of “Commercial”. It’s found under 50 CFR 14.4: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/te ... .4&idno=50
means related to the offering for sale or resale, purchase, trade, barter, or the actual or intended transfer in the pursuit of gain or profit, of any item of wildlife and includes the use of any wildlife article as an exhibit for the purpose of soliciting sales, without regard to quantity or weight. There is a presumption that eight or more similar unused items are for commercial use. The Service or the importer/exporter/owner may rebut this presumption based upon the particular facts and circumstances of each case.”
This is where it will help if you have established a prior relationship with the Inspector. Call them up while you are still in the planning stage and explain your situation. If you are importing a dozen or so spiders, this will help. However, if you are importing dozens or hundreds, you’re probably not going to convince anyone that it’s just a personal shipment. Just go ahead and get your license.
When contacting an Inspector the first time, try and keep it brief and to the point. They are almost always busy. There are millions of shipments coming into the US every day, and there are only about 120 Wildlife Inpectors to deal with all of that. Bigger ports like Miami, LAX and New York are always moving. They'll appreciate it if you don't get too long winded. Also, not all of them are experts on spiders. Don't talk down to them and don't assume they know everything about every species you're importing. You might have to do a bit of education here, so do it in a friendly way. Inspectors at ports like Miami, LAX and San Francisco see more spiders, so they'll be more experienced with them.
The license will cost you $100/year and each inspection of “live, non-protected, commercial” livestock will cost you $186. It doesn’t matter how much is in the shipment, it’s the same price for 10 spiders or 1000. (However, plan the actual day of your import, as overtime and weekend fees are even higher.) CITES species are considered “Protected” and so they will also cost additional.
Here is the 2012 Fee Calculation Chart: http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/FeeCalculationChart.pdf
You’ll need to file a Declaration
Here is where you can get it, and info on filling it out: http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/faqs.htm
Let me emphasize that the 3-177 must be accurate. You may need to emphasize that to your shipper/supplier. In some countries, if they like you, they tend to want to throw in a “freebie” or two. I’ve seen this cause huge problems with shipments. Animals that are not declared will not be received well by the Inspector. Your shipment will be delayed, and at worse, rejected for something like this.
Additionally, depending on what country you are exporting from, there may be export licenses, fees, inspections, etc. Every country is different and all of the paperwork has to be in order and all of the numbers have to match. This can be a challenge when you are thousands of mile away. It’s not too bad if you are exporting from the EU or Canada, and if you have an experienced exporter on the other end. But, when you start trying to get spiders out of some parts of South America or Asia, you are going to find it much more complicated.
While you can do it yourself, I would always consider the use of an experienced Broker for your first couple of shipments. They can help you navigate the complications. The biggest importers I work with all use Brokers to smooth the process. It’s a little more expensive on the front end, but it can pay off in the long run, by not having your spiders get seized for a paperwork error, or miss a flight and get stuck somewhere. For instance, animals have to be packed according to standards set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Otherwise, the air carrier may refuse to carry your shipment. A broker can deal with the shipper to make sure your spiders are packed correctly and safely. This might not be necessary for a couple of spiders coming out of Manitoba, but it could be essential for a few hundred coming out of Papua New Guinea. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
If you are considering the import of arachnids, let me suggest you start here:http://www.fws.gov/le/ImpExp/Info_Impor ... orters.htm
Be aware, you may still have to deal with USDA, CBP or other agencies. When dealing with international trade, things are never as simple as they seem. Even the best planned shipment can go awry. Things like parasites on the animals in the shipments (it was actually ticks on a shipment of turtles), or insect stowaways in the packing material (like termites in the wood of the boxes) have stopped shipments. Be ready for anything.
Remember, you need to do your homework for this, (don't blame me if I forgot to add something!). You are legally responsible for whatever is in your shipment when the Inspector opens the box.