Plant Shipment & Export (Phytos)

Shipping Plants and Plant Materials

Shipping Houseplants (General Public) If you are moving your household to another state or country, the state agriculture department will, for a fee, inspect plants and plant products to certify that the plants are free of insects and diseases.

All Other Plant Shipments (Businesses)

  • When Wisconsin plants and plant products, like Christmas trees, are shipped interstate or internationally, the destination state or country may require that the plants or plant products be inspected and certified as free of insects or diseases.
  • The paperwork that accompanies the plant material is called a phytosanitary certificate or a plant health certificate.
  • The inspection and certification is completed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection or the United States Department of Agriculture. The phytosanitary certificate program is a cooperative program with USDA and other states.
  • This program provides a crucial service to shippers of plant and plant commodities by certifying that the shipments are free of regulated pests before the items move into interstate or international commerce. The program also helps to prevent the spread of harmful plant pests.
  • Plants and plant products include items such as Christmas trees, landscape trees, shrubs, nursery stock, seed, grain, grain products, lumber, veneer, tissue culture plantlets, potatoes and seed potatoes.
  • If you’re unsure if a plant or product requires a phytosanitary or plant health certificate prior to shipping, contact our staff at 608-224-4596 or send an email.

What Certificate to Use

Four certificates are available. Review the information below to determine which certificate is appropriate for your situation.

Wisconsin requires that all applications for phytosanitary and plant health certificates be routed through the federal on-line system called Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking or PCIT.

Federal Phytosanitary Certificate

  • Also known as ‘phytos,’ these certificates are required for the international movement of plants or plant products.
  • A federal phytosanitary certificate is in effect for 14 days and is issued 14 days prior to shipment.
  • A federal phyto is issued by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) or by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
  • Cost for a phyto is $50.00; replacement or revised certificates cost $15.00. Beginning Oct. 1, 2009, there is an additional administrative fee of $3.00 charged for each certificate issued through the on-line service at USDA.
  • USDA now offers an on-line service to obtain a federal phytosanitary certificate.

Export Processed Plant Products Certificate

  • These certificates are used for items like wood veneer or particle board, items that are more than one step removed from the raw material.
  • The certificate is needed for international shipments.
  • The export processed plant product certificate is good for 14 days and is issued 14 day prior to shipment.
  • The certificate is issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection or USDA APHIS.
  • The cost is $50.00; replacement certificates are $15.00.
  • Please apply for the export processed plant product certificate as soon as possible, ideally about 21 days prior to shipment to allow for inspection time then time to issue the certificate.
  • Please note the following change: All applications for certificates will now be handled through USDA’s on-line service, Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking or PCIT.
  • Please allow 10 days to process the certificate following the inspection.

Plant Health Certificate

  • Plant health certificates are used to move plants or plant materials to another state (interstate movement).
  • Plant nurseries often use these certificates.
  • The certificates are good for one year and cover all the shipments within one year.  The exception is the State of Arizona which requires an original certificate for each shipment.
  • If a plant nursery has multiple growing locations, all locations will be inspected as part of the nursery license and the plant health certificate will cover shipments from all growing locations.
  • Plant health certificates are issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
  • Plant health certificates cost $50.00 and may be reproduced for each shipment.
  • Please note the following change: All applications for certificates will now be handled through USDA’s on-line service, Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking or PCIT.
  • Please allow 10 days to process and issue the certificate following the inspection.

State Phytosanitary Certificate

  • State phytosanitary certificates are sometimes required to move plants or plant material to another state (interstate movement). 
  • The state “phyto” is good for 30 days
  • The state phyto is issued for specific loads or shipments of plants or plant material.
  • State phytos can be used for plant seed and bird seed.
  • The state phyto is often used for items going to California, Puerto Rico or Hawaii, locations that require more in-depth inspection.
  • State phytos are issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • Each state phyto costs $50 and each replacement phyto costs $15.  Replacement phytos cover changes within a shipment such as number of items or destinations.
  • The original phyto should accompany each shipment.
  • Please apply for the state phytosanitory certificate as soon as possible, ideally about 21 days prior to shipment to allow time for the inspection and then time to process and issue the certificate.
  • Please note the following change: All applications for certificates will now be handled through USDA’s on-line service, Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking or PCIT.
  • Please allow 10 days to process the certificate following the inspection.

Where to Obtain a Federal Phytosanitary Certificate and Other Plant Health Certificates

A new method is available to apply for phytos needed for international shipping and shipping within the United States. The state agriculture department now requires that all applications for federal phytosanitary certificates and other plant health certificates be routed through the Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking (PCIT) system web site which is part of the USDA’s web site.

The PCIT system automates the issuance of a Phytosanitary Certificate, including collection and tracking of its related information, for an eligible agricultural commodity being exported to foreign countries.

DATCP has been involved in the development of PCIT from the beginning, so we had input into the final product. We are very pleased with the outcome of PCIT and are confident you will find it to be effective and efficient.

PCIT Benefits

The Web-based PCIT application is available nationwide and has been used for the past few years. The benefits that users have seen are:

  • helped reduce the amount of paper used
  • allowed users to track the status of applications
  • provided the ability for users to view a copy of their certificate(s)
  • increased the processing speed of certificates
  • increased the accuracy of certificates
  • helped eliminate forged certificates
  • allowed foreign countries to check the validity of certificates

Fees

  • Beginning October 1, 2009, USDA/APHIS began charging an administrative fee for each certificate issued by state cooperators.  The administrative fee will be $3 for each certificate issued in PCIT or $6 for each certificate issued outside of PCIT.
  • USDA/APHIS has updated PCIT allowing each state to collect their fees for each certificate issued to help streamline customer payments which means paying once so you will no longer receive invoices for certificates from WDATCP
  • However it will be your responsibility to keep enough money in the system to cover the cost of issuance of any certificate you apply for in order to receive certificates in a timely manner.
  • Each applicant that already uses PCIT may add funds by clicking "Financial Management" on the left hand menu. This will allow you to make a payment with a credit card or electronic check.  PCIT works like a debit account and you can put in any amount of funds to cover future certificates or put money in on a per certificate basis.
  • In addition there are reports available in PCIT which will show how much money was deducted per certificate. Any applicant that has not established an account in PCIT should contact our office for assistance at 608-224-4596.

Use this link to access PCIT: https://pcit.aphis.usda.gov/pcit/.

PCIT Guidelines

  • Visit https://pcit.aphis.usda.gov/pcit/
  • The first time you visit this site you have to go through the eAuthentication process, the link for this is under the "log in" button. When you go through this process please keep in mind that you only need LEVEL 1 Access, you do not need to bring your ID to anyone.
  • When submitting your application, select “WI: Madison (State)” as the duty station to processor your application(s) NOT "PPQ".
  • If you have any problems or questions about PCIT, contact Greg Helmbrecht at greg.helmbrecht@wisconsin.gov or call Greg at (608) 224-4596.