Permit Requirements

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State and Federal Permit Requirements Pertaining to Plant Research

Permits may be required for the importation, transit, domestic movement and environmental release of organisms that impact plants or local agriculture. The criteria for determining whether a permit is required can vary depending on the materials and intent of the recipient of the materials. Follow the links provided below to find information specific to your inquiry or contact regulators directly to ask about your activities and if they require a permit.

Types of activities which may require a permit

Submitting USDA permit applications online:

In order to access the USDA online ePermits systems and apply for USDA permits online you must verify your identity with the USDA through the eAuthentication process; this involves an online registration for level 2 eAuthentication access, followed by a visit in person to a local USDA registration authority. Find more information on accessing the USDA ePermits system.

Visit the USDA website for specific information on the eAuthentication process.

Movement of biological materials within the state of California

If your research involves any of the following activities, contact CDFA regarding permit requirements:

  • Transport of soil or plant materials across county lines within the state of California for research or diagnostic purposes
  • Transport of plant pests or plant-associated organisms across county lines within the state of California for research or diagnostic purposes
  • Research, collection, curation, or plant inoculations with plant pathogens isolated from California
If you are not sure whether your activity requires a permit, complete online permit application 66-026 and submit the form online for a determination from CDFA.

Work involving agricultural pests or materials which may contain agricultural pests (e.g. soil and plant materials)

If your research involves any of the following activities, contact USDA-APHIS-PPQ regarding permit requirements:

  • Importation or transport of soil or plant materials across state lines for research or diagnostic purposes
  • Importation or transport of plant pests or plant-associated organisms across state lines for research or diagnostic purposes
  • Research, collection, curation, or plant inoculations with plant pathogens isolated from outside of the state of California
  • Exportation of any of the above materials

US Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine branch (USDA-APHIS-PPQ)

If you are not sure whether your activity requires a USDA-APHIS permit, contact USDA-APHIS.

Interstate movement or environmental release of regulated genetically engineered organisms

Introduction (importation, interstate movement, or environmental release) of regulated genetically engineered (GE) organisms is overseen by the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Service. All regulated introductions of GE organisms must be authorized by USDA-APHIS-BRS under either its permitting or notification procedures. Lath houses, screenhouses and outdoor containers may also require USDA-APHIS-BRS authorization.

If you are not sure whether your activity requires a USDA-APHIS permit, email USDA-APHIS (biotechquery@aphis.usda.gov).