Inside the European Union there is no problem, packages are not generally
opened for inspection within the EU and, in any case, the contents would not be
considered illegal. But if you are outside the European Union and you are interested in getting
live Salvia divinorum plants, there are basically two approaches we could
Without Papers: Normally there is nothing on the package to suggest that there is a plant inside,
but for packages outside the EU I have to declare the content by attaching a
customs slip. I usually put something like 'Sage herb (Salvia)' and this
is usually okay. I could drop the reference to Salvia but I don't think
this is particularly incriminating. I could put something more vague such as "Home Furnishings"
you could argue that it is a houseplant so this is true enough), but I prefer
to play it fairly straight and make a more honest description of the contents
so as not to get into trouble with authorities.
In most cases this would be fairly safe, but you should know the stringency
of your own country's import regulations (not to mention how the postal system
works) better than I will. I have used this method to successfully export plants to
places including Turkey, Norway,
Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Israel and even South Africa and Brazil.
Mostly plants have been sent without problems, but note
that after sending two packages successfully to Norway a third package
(declared 'Houseplant (Sage)') was opened by customs and sent to the Norwegian
agriculture department. They checked it out and they were happy enough
to let the recipient have it after he got a 'temporary import
certificate'. So, it was not as straightforward for him and he received
it a few days later than he expected, but he got the plant okay eventually.
Anyway, this suggests different countries may do different things.
The biggest problem is if the country is particularly strict as with a package sent to Canada (without
import certificates). This was sent recorded delivery, but never arrived.
It turned out that the plants were destroyed by customs import security on
the grounds that the soil may have contained contaminating bugs or the like.
However, since the Post Office authorities could not trace the package to tell
me what happened with it (the details of its destruction came later), there was full
Since the results have been generally good without import papers and it is
generally easier to do it this way, with new countries and countries with which I have yet to experience
any problems, I am prepared to take the risk sending this way and offer you compensation if the
plant does not get to you. Check the following link for further details.
With Papers: If you think import is going to be a potential problem and you can't find
anyone appropriate (or who you like the look of) on the list
of other suppliers> (including
U.S. suppliers>) then there is the
alternative of doing it ‘by the books’.
I know what I have to do at my end. I've been in touch with the Scottish
authorities, making general enquiries for this situation. They tell me I can
get an 'inspection certificate' quite easily (and cheaply) if I need one. It
is called a phytosanitary certificate.
However, note that it is often the case that a
necessary import permit from the receiving country has to be obtained
first. I quote the Scottish Executive, with regard to an enquiry from
South Africa they told me, "Inspections can not be
carried out until you have the import permit. The import permit may detail
conditions that have to be met prior to export. Until we know what these
conditions are we can not proceed."
If this is required, obviously, it is dependent on you to obtain and send
me the import permit first. Here is an example of what an
Import Permit might specify.
With other countries (for example such as Iceland) I may not need an import permit
first, in such cases the inspection conditions are generally known and I can
apply for the phytosanitary certificate simply on that basis. Check with
your authorities. They will be able to tell you if you need to get an
import permit first.
I won't know each and every country’s
approach. I'm prepared to send plants anywhere in the world if you can
settle payment details.
Like I say, for any new country which I think has a reasonable chance and
to countries with which I have yet to experience any problems, I am prepared
to take the risk without papers and offer you compensation if the plant does not get to
you. But please note, I send using recorded delivery, which means there is
proof of posting and delivery. In the event of any problems I would be
getting confirmation from the Post Office that the item was never signed for,
so compensation could take a couple of months to sort out.
If I have experienced problems with the country before, such as with Canada,
or the country sounds too unlikely (e.g. extreme dictatorships) then I would not
take the financial risk myself without papers. I would be prepared to send plants if you
wanted to take the risk yourself. If the plant were returned to me as undeliverable then I
would be able to refund you something. But if the plant were somehow confiscated/destroyed
without your authorities refunding me, then you would just have to put it down