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Shipping: Biological Materials Permits

Read about permits for shipments of diagnostic specimens/ biological substances.

Warning: Failure to comply with international and federal transportation regulations when shipping hazardous materials can result in civil penalties of $50,000 per occurrence, and criminal penalties may include 5 years of imprisonment in addition (49CFR 107.329-107.333)

UCSD conforms to strict government regulations when transporting hazardous materials. All outgoing shipments of infectious substances, diagnostic specimens, and other hazardous materials must be processed by the Shipping Department.

Definition: A shipment includes importing, domestic transfers, or exporting, of biological materials and may require permits from Center for Disease Control (CDC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), Department of Commerce, and CA Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Biological materials that require a permit

CDC Import Permit required for:

  • Infectious biological agent
  • Infectious substance
  • Vector - Any animals (vertebrate or invertebrate) or any noninfectious self-replicating system (e.g., plasmids or other molecular vector) or animal products that are known to transfer or are capable of transferring an infectious biological agent to a human.
  • Animals
  • Animal product
  • Arthropods
  • Snails – Any freshwater snails (phylum Mollusca, class Gastropoda) capable of transmitting schistosomiasis.
  • Non-human primate material

USDA permit required for interstate transport and import of:

  • All cultures or collections of organisms which may introduce or disseminate any contagious or infectious disease of livestock and poultry and their derivatives (DNA/ RNA, recombinants, inactivated/ attenuated).
  • Pathogens that can initiate or disseminate disease in livestock and poultry
  • Vectors that can serve as the carrier of or have been exposed to an infectious disease of livestock or poultry
  • Animal specimens from animals infected with pathogens or exposed to pathogens or vectors
  • Cell cultures exposed to organisms that cause disease in livestock or poultry
  • Human viruses and human vaccines intended for research use in livestock or poultry.
  • Attenuated live viruses and vaccine strains
  • Fish pathogens

APHIS permit required for interstate transport and import of:

  • Regulated plants and plant products for consumption or propagation
  • Plants for planting such as nursery stock, small lots of seed, and post-entry
  • Plant products such as fruits and vegetable, timber, cotton and cut flowers
  • Protected plants and plant products such as orchids, and threatened and endangered plant species
  • Prohibited plant materials for research

If you are not sure if your material will require a permit, contact EHS Biosafety for assistance.

For information on packaging and shipping requirements, contact the UCSD Shipping Department at BFSupport (login required).

Apply for permits

Permit applications for either CDC or UDSA/ APHIS may also include a site inspection from the agency prior to approving the permit. If requested for a site inspection, contact EHS Biosafety to assist with the inspection process. After completion of an inspection, the permit will be processed.

All permits obtained by UCSD researchers should be submitted to the IBC by attaching to the Biological Use Authorization.

CDC Import permit application process

If your material requires a CDC permit for importation, visit the CDC Import Permit Program website and complete the Permit to Import Biological Agents or Vectors of Human Disease or the Permit to Import or Transport Live Bats.

Contact information provided in the application should be for personnel in the laboratory who are responsible for the material and can answer pertinent questions on the material being shipped by the CDC Import Permit Program, Customs and Border Protection agents, or the shipping company.

USDA/ APHIS Import or Domestic Transfer permit process

If your material requires an USDA/ APHIS permit, visit the USDA/ APHIS Permits and Certification website and start the application using ePermits. ePermits is a web-based system that allows users to submit import /interstate movement/ transit/ release permit applications, track applications, apply for renewals and amendments, and receive copies of their permits.

Contact information provided in the application should be for personnel in the laboratory who are responsible for the material and can answer pertinent questions on the material being shipped by USDA/ APHIS, Customs and Border Protection agents, or the shipping company.

Shipping materials with a permit

Once you have received your permit, the permit must be with the shipping documents as well as a copy kept with the shipper/receiver. Follow all restrictions listed in the permit.

For proper packaging requirements, visit Shipping: Infectious Substance Description or contact BFSupport (login required).

All shipping containers must be packaged in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, 49 CFR Regulations 173.134 and International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Dangerous Goods Information Online.