Flying with plants (can you take plants on a plane?)

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Flying with plants
(can you take plants on a plane?)

The rules and regulations of flying with plants will depend on the plant type, the airline you are flying with and the laws of the destinations you are flying from and to. Discover this information in our guide, so you can see if you can take your plants with you on the plane. If you are looking for other items which you can or can not take on a plane, check out our guide to prohibited items.

Taking plants into the United States

Most airlines will base their regulations on the national agriculture department for the area. For example. most American airlines will base their rules from TSA guidance. When travelling on a domestic flight in the USA, most plants will be allowed on the plane as either hand luggage or checked luggage. Like any other item of baggage, they will have to undergo security screening including the x-ray machine, and also be able to fit within the normal hand or checked baggage restrictions such as fitting in the overhead compartment or in a bag under your seat.

There are some species that are not allowed into the US from international territory. Depending on where they originated from, some plants are able to be bought into the US without permission, providing they are declared, inspected and free of pests. It is up to the US inspectors to have the final decision for if you are allowed to bring a plant into the US. The reason for some species being prohibited is because they can often carry foreign pests and disease that can harm the American agriculture or environment.

Bringing plants from Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

There are some plants and seeds that are/aren't allowed into the US from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. See the table below for more details:

Items ALLOWED into the mainland (after inspection) Items NOT ALLOWED into the mainland
Flowers (fresh, cut or dried) Pigeon Peas
Plant cuttings and plants without soil Sweet potato
Most Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs Cut citrus leaves (fresh)
  Cottonseed, cotton and cotton cuttings
  Cactus
  Citrus and citrus-related plants
  Plants in soil
  Soil
  Sugarcane

 

Bringing plants from Hawaii

There are some plants and seeds that are/aren't allowed into the mainland US or Alaska from Hawaii. See the table below for more details:

Items ALLOWED into the mainland (after inspection) Items NOT ALLOWED into the mainland
The following fresh fruit or vegetables:
Coconut, Irish or white potatoes, pineapple
Treated fruit: papaya, abiu, atemoya, banana, curry leaf, dragon fruit, longan, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, starfruit, sweet potato.
All other fresh fruit and vegetables
Dried seeds Berries of any kind
Plants and cuttings (some require certification) Cactus plants or cactus plant parts
Wood (including driftwood and sticks) and wood roses (dried) Cotton and cotton bolls
Fresh flowers, leis, and foliage, except citrus or citrus-related flowers, leaves or other plants. Fresh flowers of jade vine, Mauna Loa
Spanish Moss Kikania and fresh pandanus
seed leis and seed jewellery Seeds with fruit clinging and fresh seed pods
  Soil or any plants in soil
  Sugarcane
  Swamp cabbage
  Sweet potato(raw)
  Mock orange

Bringing plants from Another Country

Plants and Plant Parts for Growing, Seeds, and Fresh Cut Flowers and Greenery

Many plants and plant seeds are allowed into the United States from foreign countries. However, it depends on the plant, the country of origin and its intended use. If you are intending to bring in a plant from overseas, you should contact the APHIS (Unites States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) for more information about if you're allowed it and if you should obtain a permit or other documents.

Plants and Plant Parts for Growing (Nursery Stock, Roots, Bulbs, etc.)

Because bringing soil into the U.S. is prohibited, bringing plants in soil is prohibited. However, you can still bring 12 or fewer plants if they meet the following conditions:

  • Bare-rooted (the plants have no soil, sand, earth or other growing material)
  • The plant is not prohibited or protected or subject to special restrictions such as post-entry quarantine or treatment
  • You have a phytosanitary certificate issued by the country you are departing from the National Plant Protection Organisation, declaring the plant free of pest and disease
  • The plant passes an inspection by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, determining that it has met all entry requirements.

Seeds

Travellers are prohibited from bringing tree or shrub seeds.

Seeds from fruit, vegetables, flowers and other types are allowed if they meet the following conditions:

  • The seeds are not prohibited or protected or subject to special restrictions such as post-entry quarantine or treatment
  • You have a phytosanitary certificate issued by the country you are departing from the National Plant Protection Organisation, declaring the seeds free of pest and disease
  • The seeds pass an inspection by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, determining that it has met all entry requirements.

Fresh Cut Flowers and Greenery

Freshly cut flowers and greenery has to be presented at the first point of entry for inspection by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is up to the officer to determine if the cuttings are free of pest or diseases, and to see if it meets entry requirements.

Tips for bringing plants into the US

Make sure you follow guidelines and check that you are allowed to bring the species of a plant into the US, including from what country it is from.

Check the guidelines to see if you need any documentation for the plant. This may be a permit or fee documentation.

It is recommended that you keep with you any receipts and original packaging of the plants, to prove thier species and their country of origin.

Make sure that the plant is free of soil. You can do this by rinsing it off outside and brushing off soil. Wrap the roots in damp newspaper and secured in a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out.

Declare any form of plant at customs. Even if you are sure it is allowed, you will need to declare it as the customs and border officers have the final decision if you are allowed to bring it into the country. There are specially-trained dogs at the airport who can help sniff out plants in luggage and carry-on items.

Taking plants within the United States

Although the general rule is to follow TSA and US Border and Customs advice, there are some state-specific guidelines that you may need to be aware of.

Coming into California

The Californian Department of Food and Agriculture have some state-specific guidelines which means that you will have to check the rules, even when entering on a U.S. domestic flight. Citrus plants are prohibited from bringing into California, with pine, oak, fruit and nut trees being strongly discouraged from bringing into the state.

To bring house plants into California, they must be:

  • grown in your home
  • not for resale
  • pest-free
  • potted in sterile, packaged, commercial potting mic
  • be an ornamental plant

Taking plants into the European Union

There are strict rules and controls on the plant products that can be bought into the European Union (EU). This is because of potentially harmful pests and diseases that could be bought into the region and devastate environment, landscapes, crops and agriculture.

Travelling within the EU

You can bring any plant products into a European country, providing they were grown in an EU country, and are free from pests and diseases and are for your own use and consumption.

The following plants are prohibited if they are intended for planting:

  • Plants and seeds of Fraxinus (Ash)
  • Pants and seeds of Castanea (Sweet chestnut)
  • Plants of Platanus (Plane)

For the purposes of this guide, the following countries are classed as EU countries:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Channel Islands, Cyprus (but only goods from areas effectively controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (Republic of), the Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the Vatican City.

For these purposes, Gibraltar and the Canary Islands do not count as being part of the European Union.

Travelling to the EU from a non-EU country

Some products are banned completely, or are restricted by weight and quantity. If you wish to bring in a restricted product, you must obtain the relevant phytosanitary documents from the country where the plant was grown.

Seeds for planting

Does not include potato seeds.

You are allowed to bring 5 x retail packed packets of restricted seeds. However, some seeds are not restricted, but you can contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency for a complete list.

 

Seeds of Fraxinus (Ash) and Castanea (Sweet chestnut) for planting

These seeds are prohibited to bring into an EU country for planting.

 

Soil

Soil is not permitted into an EU country from a country outside the EU.

 

Ash, Citrus and Vine plants

These plants are not permitted in any EU country.

 

Other trees and plants with or without soil

These plants are not permitted in EU countries unless it is a country listed below:

Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes for planting (excluding potatoes)

From certain countries (listed below), you are permitted 2kg of combined weight per person. If a country is not listed, then they are not permitted.

Cut flowers and foliage

You are permitted one bouquet, of up to 50 stems, of restricted cut flowers. For details of which flowers are restricted, see the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

 

Parts of trees used as decoration (e.g. wreaths, Christmas trees)

You are limited to a maximum of restricted foliage forming 1 spray, wreath or 1 cut in the countries listed below. Also a Christmas Tree up to 3m in height. In all other countries, this is not permitted.

 

Natural wood and non-manufactured wood

For the listed countries, you are permitted 5 pieces without bark, each measuring no more than 1m in length. However, certain wood types are restricted - contact the Forestry Commission for more information. If the country is not listed below, you are not permitted it.

 

The restricted countries for this section are:

Albania, Algeria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canary Islands, Ceuta, Cyprus (the area not effectively controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus), Egypt, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamrahiriya, Liechtenstein, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of), Melilla, Moldovia (Republic of), Morocco, Norway, Russia (but only parts of – please check), Serbia and Montenegro, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine

 

Bringing plants into Australia

Australia has strict regulations surrounding the import of plants and plants products into the country. This is because of the risk of the introduction of weeds, pests and diseases into the Australian natural environment, which has the potential to harm food security and the economy.

The Australian Government, under the Department of Agriculture, have created an online tool where you can search for the good you wish to transport to find out the following:

  • If the goods are permitted in Australia
  • If the country you wish to import it from is permitted
  • If a permit or documents are required
  • If there is treatment or inspection required
  • Any other important import information

The BICON (Biosecurity Import Conditions System) search tool can be found here.


Important

The guidelines on this page are to be used for a general summary and outline of what you may be able to take on a plane with you. The laws and government regulations can change at any time, and often suddenly without notice. Therefore, contact the relevant authority, such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in the EU, if you are unsure.