Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Permit Procedures for Arthropods, Plants and Plant Pests in Florida
Importing or moving exotic organisms (for example, insects, spiders, scorpions, noxious weeds, plant pathogens and nematodes) into Florida from any other state or country, or moving such exotic organisms within the state for any purpose requires a permit. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reviews these applications to ensure that specimen identifications are scientifically correct and valid. They also render opinions on whether the applied-for permits to move or import organisms can be done with suitable safeguarding of Florida's native and commercial agricultural resources.
Why is a permit required?
By law, any organism that may pose a risk to Florida agriculture, become a nuisance, threaten native Florida wildlife, or pose a serious medical hazard to humans or livestock requires a permit to import into the state. The possibility of exotic pet arthropods becoming established is far from theoretical. The tarantula Brachypelma vagans has established a breeding population in Central Florida which has persisted for a number of years. Populations of the Indian stick insect Carausius morosus, a popular species among stick insect fanciers, were found in San Luis Obispo and San Diego counties in California, where they were discovered because of damage the insects were causing to ornamental plants. Finally, two Asian water boatmen (Hemiptera: Corixidae) are known to be established in Florida, probably brought into the state with aquarium plants.
Who needs a permit?
Anyone who imports exotic organisms (for example, insects, spiders, scorpions, noxious weeds, plant pathogens, and nematodes) into Florida from any other state or country, or who moves such exotic organisms within the state for any purpose. This especially applies to anyone engaged in wholesale import or sale, or otherwise serving as a broker to any business in the retail pet or bait trade. If you are moving houseplants into Florida please visit our Plant Import Page.
Are there guidelines for Importing Exotic and Non-Florida U.S. Arthropods?
For what period of time is the permit valid?
The permit is valid up to four years.
Is there a fee for the permit?
Yes, the processing/curation fee is $12.50 per species up to 4 or more species; $50 maximum per permit.
Do I need to send in voucher specimens for identification?
Yes. You will need to send in a voucher specimen for each species that you are asking to be permitted. Voucher specimens are required so that we may confirm the identity of the species you wish to import. We keep these vouchers as a record that your permit is for the correct species. This is to your advantage in case any questions should arise in the future. Voucher specimens are not returned.
Are vouchers needed with an application for a permit to collect noxious weed species?
No, not with the initial permit application. Vouchers of noxious weeds should be sent only on request. In general, applicants should not collect noxious weed species to include as part of the application for a permit because transporting a noxious weed requires specific safeguards to avoid spreading the plant. If a voucher specimen is needed, instructions for safe handling of noxious weeds sent as vouchers will be provided to the applicant.
How many vouchers should I submit?
For arthropods at least one adult male and one adult female (preferably two pair) should be submitted. In cases where the sex is not obvious (e.g., scorpions, millipedes), at least two adults should be submitted. Adults may be preserved in 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) in a sealed container, safely packed. If your vouchers are butterflies, these specimens need to be sent (dead) in vials of alcohol if caterpillars. Adult specimens should be dead, dried and put in individual envelopes. You should be able to obtain the specimens from your intended suppliers.
Are there regulations against selling certain types of arthropods?
Yes. Possession or importation of many species may be either prohibited or strictly controlled. Most insects, some scorpions, and all other exotic arachnids, centipedes, and millipedes are among the arthropods which are restricted or prohibited from moving in commercial trade. They present an unacceptable risk of disrupting or damaging one or more components of Florida's agricultural resources or ecosystems. Exotic terrestrial snails are also strictly prohibited.
Where does one list all the species to be imported?
For the form labeled, "FDACS-08208" on lines 9, 10, 11 and 12 type the first four species you wish to import, any additional organisms to be moved are listed starting at line #35 making sure to provide the biological information and shipping requested.
Is there more than one permit or form that I may need?
There are two types of forms that you may need:
- FDACS-08208 or PPQ-526 for arthropods, nematodes, noxious weeds or plant pathogens.
- PPQ-526 is a federal permit used for interstate shipment of any of the above-mentioned organisms that are regulated by USDA/APHIS.
- FDACS-08208 is a State of Florida permit for importation of exotic or native organisms into Florida from other states or countries. It is the primary form for movement of organisms not regulated by USDA/APHIS. It also should be used for movement of exotic organisms within Florida by wholesalers and/or breeders.
Do I need a permit only to ship native insects between two locations in Florida?
No. Neither USDA nor State of Florida Department of Agriculture regulates such activities.
What butterflies are allowed to be imported into Florida, and where may they be shipped from?
The following butterflies may be imported from east of the 100th meridian [ ], except as noted:
- Agraulis vanillae
- Anartia jatrophae
- Colias philodice
- Danaus plexippus, Atlantic Coast States only
- Heliconius charitonius, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama & Florida only
- Nymphalis antiopa
- Papilio polyxenes
- Vanessa atalanta
- Vanessa cardui
- Vanessa virginensis
May I ship a US Monarch Butterfly from California to Florida?
No. At the present time, USDA/ APHIS regulations state that only monarchs from the Atlantic flyway (Atlantic Coastal States) may be shipped into Florida.
Where can I find out more information on the requirements of other states in the United States for importation and exportation of butterflies.
Please see International Butterfly Breeders Association Inc. (IBBA), web site. www.internationalbutterflybreeders.org/. The left hand side of the page lists different menu options. Select "Permit Information Center" and then "Permitting Corner." Next select "Permitting to ship for release by state." Either select the State name or scroll down the page. Each State listed will have the following listed: Contact person's name, address, email and phone number and also that State's requirements.
How does one apply for a permit?
A permit is applied for by contacting Dr. Gregory Hodges or Phillip Lake.
Please follow the instructions provided below when printing and completing the forms listed.
- Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print forms. Skip this step if Adobe Reader is already installed on your pc.
- You can type electronically on FDACS-08208 then print and sign form. Print forms on white 8 1/2" x 11" paper.
- Original signed FDACS-08208 must be submitted for processing. Mail FDACS-08208 to: FDACS-Plant Industry, Attention: Permitting Team, P.O. Box 147100, Gainesville, FL 32614-7100.
- Type or print the entire FDACS-08208 form in blue or black ink.
- If fees are required, make check(s) payable to: DIVISION OF PLANT INDUSTRY.
- Mail payment(s) to: Division of Plant Industry, Attention: Permitting Team, P.O. Box 147100, Gainesville, FL 32614-7100.
- FDACS-08208 - Application and Permit to Move Organisms Regulated by the State of Florida [ ]
- FDACS-08400 - Specimen Submission Form [ ]
- PPQ Form 526 - Application and Permit to Move Live Plant Pests or Noxious Weeds
- 100th Meridian Map [ ]
- Continental Divide Map [ ]