Asked in Travel & PlacesAirplanes and Aircraft
Can you carry plants on an airplane?
July 12, 2010 6:36AM
Depends on your destination and the plant(s).
Plant materials are regulated by international phytosanitary regulations (which also includes CITES, which regulates the movement of endangered species).
The normal process is to obtain an official plant Import Permit for the plant material from the country of destination prior to shipping or moving the plants. This is normally issued by a governmental body (such as the Department of Agriculture).
The conditions and regulations for the particular plant that you are wanting to transport will be stated on the permit. The process then involves the applicant being able to meet or prove that the plant materials conform to the requirements on the import permit; this then involves obtaining a Phytosanitary Certificate from the exporting countries authorities.
As you can see this is not really a simple process and can take days or weeks. Most certificates will prohibit the transport of plant materials in "naturally occurring soils" (basically digging a plant out of the ground and shipping it), this means that plants can normally only be shipped in an "artificial medium" or bear rooted - which normally applies to commercially cultivated horticultural plants.
It is not advisable to simply take plant material with you in your luggage as some plants are banned in certain countries, and could earn you a spell in jail for even having them in your possession. Australia has particularly rigid regulations and penalties regarding this, while the movement of plant materials within EU countries is fairly easy and has few restrictions.
It should also be noted that the movement of certain types of plants even within the same country is regulated; for example the movement of citrus plants between states in the USA.
Note: This process also applies to seeds or packets of seeds