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Import And Export Laws Apply To Pet Bird Owners

Increasing fees apply to pet parrot transport across U.S. borders.

By Anastasia Thrift
Posted: May 14, 2010, 3:00 p.m. PDT

Traveling across the border with your pet bird is going to cost you 
Courtesy Missi Brody, Florida
Before your next cross-border trip with your bird, find out the fee you must pay.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, a rise in inspection fees applied in 2009 will affect traveling parrot owners. Pet parrot owners must comply with import and export laws regarding their bird when crossing the U.S. border.

“Pet owners are considered importers or exporters, albeit for noncommercial purposes, if they travel to and from the United States with their pet bird,” a USFWS representative said. “The importation or exportation of even one pet bird must be in compliance with all applicable regulations.”   

On January 8, 2009, USFWS began charging inspection fees for various commodities that require its clearance. USFWS attributes the fees, in part, to the “extremely time consuming” process of verifying foreign documents presented for clearance of shipments containing protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), such as all parrot species.

“In addition to the increased time required for document inspection, the inspection of parrots requires more thorough knowledge of Federal law or international treaty,” the representative said. Inspection fees typically apply upon exportation because no USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service authorized (designated) ports exist along the Canadian or Mexican border.

“At a typical nondesignated port, the inspection fee for the exportation of a parrot would be $251, calculated using a base inspection fee of $139 plus premium fees of $56 for a ‘live’ commodity and $56 for a ‘protected’ species,’” the representative said. Upon importation, there would typically be no inspection fee because these ports act as "designated" ports, eliminating the base inspection fee.

USFWS strongly urges parrot owners to confirm applicable inspection fees by contacting the port where they will export or import their parrot. Visit the USFWS website for additional fee information:

The department says inspection fees are a major source of funding for the compliance monitoring part of its wildlife inspection program. It last increased fees in 1996, and those fee collections “fell well short of covering the costs of providing inspection services to wildlife importers and exporters,” according to the representative.

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Import And Export Laws Apply To Pet Bird Owners

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Reader Comments
Good article.
Kim, South Bend, IN
Posted: 11/30/2010 4:29:51 AM
The USFWS does not have to investigate documents for pet birds that are accompanied by their owners at the land border crossing. All of the paperwork is done prior by the pet owner. They do check the band and the cities documents and stamp importation and exportation to confirm that these are the parrots that the paperwork is for. There is an additional permit required for the Conservation of Wild Bird Act which costs an additional 50.00 for a 3 year term. This is an exact duplication of the Cities documentation. This takes approximately 1/2 hour of the inspectors time. The USDA vet fills out forms and charges a fee of 35.00 and approximately another 1/2 hour. In 2011 the fee will be 351.00 to cross a land border between Canada and the US while traveling in a private vehicle regardless of the number of pet birds you have with you. The USFWS does not handle the parrots. All forms required at the border are completed by the pet owner. These fees are a major burden on the pet owners. We can only cross the border once a year now. We used to travel back and forth in our motor home but can no longer do this. A bird rescue may be our only other choice. I feel that this fee is totally unnecessary at these border crossing. I still have to travel to a designated port that is currently 4 hours out of my way as I cannot cross at just any border crossing. It is difficult for us to understand why we are being charged so much. The Canadian Government stamps our cities documents and away we go. No fees period. We are simply doing exactly what we have always done. I could understand it if I did not accompany the bird and shipped via cargo or air.
Susan, Ottaw, ON
Posted: 10/29/2010 9:24:40 PM
that's a lot of money, especially if you own several companion birds. is there any reduction for multiple birds or is it just multiplied for everyone?
paula, south bend, IN
Posted: 10/13/2010 5:05:44 AM
Any way that the government can make money.
Dee, Sandy Valley, NV
Posted: 7/13/2010 3:46:34 PM
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