Rich in omega-3, the chia seed has many food uses and is a excellent antioxidant source. However, plants and plant products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So before you can import chia seeds, you must apply for a permit. Once your imported seeds arrive, the USDA requires that you declare the contents of the shipment in detail. Even if your purchase is made using a website, these requirements will be enforced by the U.S. Customs Border and Protection Agency.

Things You Will Need
  • Bill of sale

  • Bill of lading

  • Business license (if importing for resale)

  • USDA Import permit

Step 1.

Apply for a permit to import plants or plant products. Go to the USDA website under permits. Complete application form PPQ 587. There is both an online and mail-in option available. There are two other types of applications related to plant or plant products. They are form PPQ 586 for transporting plants or plant products and form PPQ 588 for importing plants or plant products for experimental purposes. Although a time frame is not given, you will receive your permit faster if you apply online. There is a user fee associated with filing for the permits.

Step 2.

Send the chia seeds to the USA port or through the postal carrier you chose.

Step 3.

Present to customs agents the sales receipt and original bill of lading from the shipper or carrier you used. The shipper or carrier you use should already be aware of the requirements. Customs agents will perform an inspection of your shipment. You could be charged a fee for this inspection. If you use a postal service, your package will go through customs inspection and the delivering postal service will be required to obtain proof of a permit to import, before you can receive your package.

Step 4.

Complete the Plant and Plant Product declaration form PPQ 505, required by the USDA. Download this form from the USDA website. Give the completed form to customs or fill out the form provided by the postal carrier.

Step 5.

Pay duty and taxes to the customs cashier or delivering postal carrier. To determine what your duty amount will be, use the formula on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency website under "Determining Duty". You can pay duty by cash (U.S. currency only), personal check drawn on a U.S. bank, travelers check, government check or money order. Some locations, including postal carriers, will accept credit cards. But those locations are not listed so you will have to ask customs or the postal carrier in advance, at the location of your chia seeds arrival.

Step 6.

Pickup your chia seeds from the customs inspection area or postal carrier.


Contact the USDA by email for more information about import permit fees at or call them toll free at 877-770-5990.


Make sure your shipment is packed well, in order to prevent possible water damage or pest infestation. If your shipment is damaged or infested with insects, it could be rejected by the U.S. Customs Border Patrol Agency.