USDA Announces Phase VII of the Lacey Act Enforcement Schedule

Posted on May 8


Article by: Rick Walker, Vice President, LCB, CCS

For those of you not familiar with the Lacey Act, what is it? The Lacey Act is a United States law that was enacted in 1900 and has since been amended several times. It is one of the oldest wildlife protection laws in the country. The primary purpose of the Lacey Act is to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and protect both plants and animals from being unlawfully traded or transported. The Lacey Act plays a crucial role in promoting conservation efforts both domestically and internationally. It helps ensure that trade in plants and animals is conducted legally and sustainably. The Lacey Act makes it illegal to trade, import, export, transport, or acquire any wildlife, fish, or plants taken or possessed in violation of any federal, state, tribal, or foreign law or regulation. It covers a wide range of plants and animals, including both live specimens and their parts or products (such as fur, feathers, ivory, or wood).

The law has been strengthened over the years to address various conservation concerns. In 2008, the Lacey Act was amended to include a provision specifically targeting the illegal logging trade. This amendment requires importers of certain plant products, including timber and wood-based items, to declare the species, country of origin, and other relevant information. It aims to prevent the importation of illegally harvested timber and associated products. Under the Act now, among other things, it is unlawful to 1) import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, in violation of the laws of the United States, a State, Indian tribe, or any foreign law; 2) import certain plants and plant products without an import declaration; or 3) make or submit any false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, any plant covered by the Act. USDA oversees the collection and enforcement of Lacey Act declarations as part of an effort to combat illegal timber imports and protect global natural resources.

Violations of the Lacey Act can result in civil and criminal penalties, including fines, imprisonment, forfeiture of goods, and loss of permits or licenses. The law is enforced by various agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

What does all of this mean for you as the importer? It means that you are required to make a declaration to CBP on each Customs entry for any of your imported goods that are subject to the Lacey Act. Declarations are typically filed by the broker electronically but, if necessary, USDA Form PPQ 505 can be used. The declaration includes information such as:

  • Scientific plant names
  • Country of harvest
  • Value of the product
  • Quantity of plant material in the shipment in metric units of measure
  • Importer name/address
  • Consignee name/address
  • HTS Code
  • Bill of lading number
  • Container number
  • Manufacturer Identification Code (MID)
  • Description of shipment
  • Name/contact information of importer of record or their agent who is certifying the accuracy of the information on the declaration

How do I know if my goods are subject to the Lacey Act? The USDA has published a link on their website that lists the HTS Chapters and Headings that require a Lacey Act declaration and the implementation dates.

Over the last several years, USDA has gradually added more and more products to the list of goods that are subject to the Lacey Act. USDA recently announced the implementation of Phase VII which is expected to be fully implemented early in 2024. Phase VII will include a wide variety of materials and plant products, such as furniture, cork, and some essential oils that have not yet required a declaration. USDA launched an outreach campaign in October 2022 to provide information about the upcoming declaration implementation phase.

In Phase VII, Lacey Act declarations will be required for all remaining plant product Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes that are not 100-percent composite materials. Importers of such items who do not currently file a Lacey Act declaration will likely need to file one once USDA implements Phase VII. USDA encourages importers to prepare in advance by becoming familiar with their supply chain and reviewing what information is necessary to file a declaration. USDA’ Lacey Act web page provides this guidance:

  • Know your supply chain for each piece of plant material in the product!
  • Learn how to file a declaration
  • Read the frequently asked questions
  • Stay connected
  • Communicate with your Customs Broker

USDA is currently reviewing HTS codes to determine the complete list of materials and products that will be included in Phase VII. In fall 2023, USDA will publish a list of affected HTS codes in the Federal Register and will require declarations for those product codes 6 months later.

We will continue to monitor any news relating to the new Lacey Act requirements and will provide updates accordingly.

Please contact your V. Alexander account team, or you may also contact our Trade Compliance team at with any questions.