Hi Frank-

I've had a few discussions with agents about this 180 days and different offices do interpret it differently because it is written in a vague manner. The basic fact is that all wildlife needs to be declared upon import and that regulation trumps any 180 day leeway we are given for identifications. The Coleopterists' society guidance is technically incorrect. We are supposed to use that 180 days to identify everything and then amend our original declaration; but this rarely if ever happens, especially when we're talking about bulk unsorted insects coming into our collections. The online e-dec system doesn't make emendations all that easy either (I'm not sure how to do it even) - so our original declaration legally stands. For loans leaving the country we declare and wait for clearance before shipping. For things coming in, we just file as soon as we get the material and we report the date they possibly entered the US by mail. If you're returning on a flight or are driving across the border they ask for a 48 hour notice (at that time you need to provide collecting and/or export permits to help expedite clearance). I think the best guideline is to process your 3-177 as soon as you get material from overseas.

And remember if any bees of any kind are involved you have to e-mail Wayne over at APHIS.


Christopher C. Grinter
Collections Manager of Entomology, The California Academy of Sciences
Assistant Secretary & Asst. Treasurer, The Lepidopterists' Society

Program Co-Chair, Entomological Collections Network
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
office: 415-379-5320

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 11:52 AM Frank T. Krell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hello fellow US collections people,


I would like to get your advice how you understand the current legal situation regarding importing dead insect specimens for scientific purposes. We have to file form 3-177 with US Fish and Wildlife when we are getting or bringing dead specimens in the country. The Coleopterists Society webpage still mentions “Form 3-177 does not have to be filed for 180 days after importation for dead specimens” (https://www.coleopsoc.org/resources/importation-permits-into-the-us-for-natural-history-specimens/).

The Code of Federal Regulations (1 Oct 2018) allows this grace period:

“(d) Except for wildlife requiring a permit pursuant to part 16, 17, 18, 21, 22 or 23 of this subchapter, an importer or his/her agent does not have to file a Declaration for the Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife (Form 3-177) at the time of importation for shipments of dead, preserved, dried, or embedded scientific specimens or parts thereof, imported by accredited scientists or accredited scientific institutions for taxonomic or systematic research purposes. An importer or his/her agent must file a Form 3-177 within 180 days of importation with the appropriate Assistant Regional Director—Law Enforcement in the Region where the importation occurs. The declaration must identify the specimens to the most accurate taxonomic classification reasonably practicable using the best available taxonomic information, and must declare the country of origin. Except: That this exception will not apply to any specimens or parts thereof taken as a result of sport hunting.”



I was recently told that a 3-177 must be filed before or on entry into the US, referring to this document: https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2017-Aug/FWS%20ITDS%20Implementation%20Guide%2008-08-2017.pdf (CBP and Trade Automated Interface Requirements, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Requirements, August 2017), referring to Section 3.5: “FWS requires the filing of FWS Form 3-177 either in paper or in an electronic equivalent for most wildlife upon import (under FWS laws, this is upon arrival and not entry into U.S. commerce) and prior to export, as well as a document package (either paper or electronic) with accompanying/supporting documentation.” So this says “upon arrival”, but it also says “most wildlife” without specification. Do insects belong in the category of “most wildlife”?


Is the 180 days grace period still in legal existence, at least for insects?


I ask because it sometimes happens that one gets a package with specimens, without or with insufficient paperwork, arriving at one’s desk, and it takes some time to get the necessary documentation. According to these “Trade” regulations, the specimens would be illegally in the country already.


If anybody has a deeper insight in the current status of those regulations, some advice would be appreciated.






Dr. Frank-Thorsten Krell


Senior Curator of Entomology, Editor-in-Chief

Commissioner and Councillor, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature

Department of Zoology

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

2001 Colorado Blvd

Denver, Colorado 80205-5798, U.S.A.

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Phone 303.370.8244

Fax 303.331.6492



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