Plants and plant products from the United States may carry plant pests that foreign countries do not want introduced into their own boundaries. Entry requirements for these agricultural shipments may vary greatly from country to country. Also, a given country may have very rigid requirements for a particular plant but be less concerned about another. As a service, NCDA&CS Plant Protection Specialists provide phytosanitary certificates to exporters to document that the plant pest requirements have been met. The Specialists first determine the specific requirements by accessing a database containing this information. They then conduct the necessary inspections for plant pests and diseases. They help the exporter meet any other requirements such as soil testing, treatments, or verification that specific pests do not occur in the area of origin. They will also advise the exporter if the plants are on the endangered or threatened species list, which then requires additional permits and inspection procedures. These phytosanitary certificates are also issued by personnel with the United States Department of Agriculture in the Plant Protection and Quarantine section of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS-PPQ). USDA-APHIS-PPQ is the federal counterpart of the NCDA&CS' Plant Protection Section.
The NCDA&CS Plant Protection Specialists may issue two kinds of phytosanitary certificates: those for domestic plants and plant products, and those for foreign plants and plant products offered for reexport that originated in another country. They may also issue a certificate for processed plant products when appropriate.