We have happy customers all over the US from Illinois to Texas who have had no issue with shipping of our products. Of the over 200 orders we have sent to the US only a few have been problems (usually US Customs). Many months go by with no shipping problems then we hear about an issue.
Although it is your responsibility as the customer to follow your local laws, as your supplier we want to provide you with the best information we can to help.
Basic facts: International Law
CITES - the international rules on the import and export of live animals and plants has no restrictions on Rhinoceros beetles.
Basic facts: US Law
The relevant US agency is USDA (US Department of Agriculture) states that “A PPQ 526 permit is required for the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of most insects and mites that feed upon or infest plants or plant products, including agricultural crops, trees, shrubs, native plants, etc.”. Except - Rhinobeetles are not pests! The larvae can only eat VERY decayed wood, ie DEAD wood, being broken down by fungi. The adults only eat rotting fruit. SO no actual problem here and PROBABLY no permit needed - except border staff arent that clever at recognising this important but subtle difference. The relevent webpage at USDA is here.Note that the page describes all insects as plant pests even although we know they are not, for example ladybirds eat plant pests.
Problem 1 – lack of knowledge
The US and CITES regulations describe animals which are banned from import. Animals that ARE allowed are just not mentioned. We all know that some beetles are pests, but not Rhinobeetles and in fact they serve a crucial recycling role in ecology. But some border staff with insufficient experience or knowledge mistake Rhinobeetles for the banned animals and seize them.
Problem 2 – officialdom
Our understanding of the US regulations is that the import of the beetles for scientific study is allowed but there is no official permit to allow this as the law ONLY covers pests and sort-of ignores non-pests as if they don't exist. In our customers experiences talking to officials from the USDA got very complicated and they were all told unofficially to go ahead but don't put insects or insect larvae on the customs forms or they will be mislabelled and probably seized.
There is also a chicken and egg. We find that if we do write "Live animals" in the EU they go through postal services quicker and are treated better, but by definition this can be problematic in the US. For the US we will label the animals as Wood chips and protein unless you tell us to label them as live insects.
Problem 3 – no way back
By the time you hear some officer has misclassified your animals then it is usually too late. Once categorised as pests they are immediately destroyed by freezing. One customer tried to go through the process of claiming compensation for this but gave up as it was taking too much of their time.
What do we recommend?
We can advise, but it is your decision. The animals are completely safe for your country but there is a small chance that they may be delayed by customs or even seized.
- If you have applied for and received a PPQ526 permit then please inform us of the details provided and we can annotate our shipment appropriately.
- If they are stopped by customs then we can provide any information you need, but they will be discussing it with you, not us. If they require a PPQ526 permit and you haven't got one then it will be your issue to resolve not ours.
- We and our shipping agents are not responsible for the actions of the Customs and there is no redress or refund from us, our shippers or Paypal for delays or seizures. This is the normal as it is classed as government action outside our control.
You need to decide
If you do not order, we will understand but if you order we will ship as normal, in all likelihood arrive without problems. If you do apply for a PPQ526 then please send us necessary information to attach to your shipment.
On the rare occasions that Customs have been involved most of our customers understand that any delay or seizure is their liability. They are annoyed (with customs) but accept this liability. We try to help and will usually offer a generous goodwill compensation, often replacing the lost items but requiring the additional shipping costs to be paid.
A small number of customers insist that the delay is our responsibility. This is your legal right. If there is a dispute then we are bound by national and international laws and our terms and conditions of sale. As the seller the relevent laws are UK and EU law. If Paypal or a credit card is used for payment then their conditions also apply in addition to applicable international and national laws and our terms and conditions of sale. Note that our terms and conditions are agreed to each customer when they confirm their purchase and becomes part of the contract between you and us.