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IMPORTING FROZEN SEMEN Bulletin Board » Frozen Semen » IMPORTING FROZEN SEMEN « Previous Next »

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Linda (
Posted on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 06:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

With the new security regulations, what can or will happen to frozen straws ~if~ the inspector at the airport decides to open up and lift out the tray to take a look??? Any and all input will be invaluable!

Frank Berg (
Posted on Thursday, January 02, 2003 - 11:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It should be sealed and have a shippers manifest signed by a certified vet or other suitable person. If you are hand carrying, then you should contact the FAA (US) or TC (Can) to get a letter to bypass security. This is what the organ doner program does. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should a security worker open a dry shipper. You may allow them to look in it if you are comfortable doing it, but explain how you would do it, and you do it. As well, you must know how to do it properly.

I brought back a dry shipper last year from Europe and had no problems whatsoever until I had to board a plane in North America. I had even contacted the airline before I made the trip. Most security people here have no clue how to deal with this nor the authority, and in some cases the comon sense, to deal with a dry shipper used for carry-on.

Posted From:
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 03:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I work on an AI Station in Bavaria, Germany. 2 years ago, we collected and froze 100 portions of semen, which were supposed to be shipped to the stallion's previous owner in the US, according to the contract. Despite rigorous paperwork (which was attached to the container) and correct sealing by the official vet, customs didn't allow the container to pass, because they declared it dangerous goods, and left it lying around so long that we lost 4 months work of frozen semen. The second time (another 4 months and a LOT of collections later) we organized a courier to pick up the container at the airport in the US. Unfortunately, they didn't hand him out the container, the reason of which we still don't know (because they couldn't tell us!!), and the whole lot went down the drain again. Never again would I send frozen semen to the US from Europe, although we had no problems the other way round. If anybody has any good tips how to handle customs in cases like this, I'd be glad to hear them!! Because my experience is, absolutely nobody anywhere at any airport knows the correct procedure...


Frank Berg
Posted From:
Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 12:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


Whether it is going to the USA or Canada (USA is easier) the Import Permit must be perfect and follow the receiving country's agriculture rules to the letter. Typically, problems occur when a border inspector compares the documentation and note an irregularity which can be as small as not listing a serial number on a seal, eventhough there may be no requirement for a specific seal number to be present (ie. a seal from a state stud may not use serial seals). This initial inspection is usually only used to establish transit entry and then requires the shipment to go to an AI or agriculture approved center (which could be a customers facility if they were listed on the import permit) where the contents would be checked by a government vet (CFIA vet in Canada). Only once this inspection has been completed would the shipment be "cleared" for use in that country.

As far as being dangerous goods, this can be a problem with shippers in Germany... Even using a dry shipper I have had preparers for Lufthansa mark the item as Dangerous Goods eventhough a dry shipper was used (this was and possibly still is their policy), which is not required by IATA convention. However, if they ship it wet, then this would be required! This is only dangerous for the liquid nitrogen, not the content.

Another problem may be that the items may have been listed incorrectly as potential infectious substances... a bad thing. Technically until finally cleared the semen will be considered subject to quarantine. In the permit a great list of declarations must be made by the shipper and approved vet. These requirements can change daily, however, the rules at the time the permit was approved are the one that would be use for the importation and an original copy of the complete permit must accompany the semem when it enters the country. Loose any portion of this permit in-transit and you can pretty much kiss your shipment goodbye.

The next step to ensuring success is to use a shipper that has experience dealing with semen imports. As much as I do not like to endorse one company versus another, Fed Ex does a good job when shipping semen. Typically, the container will make it to the final clearance location for full inspection and it will be easier to correct problems if something has been missed. In the worst case scenario, the item may be shipped back to the country of origin and the paperwork corrected before being resent back. I can not stress that the shipping container must be freshly charged before leaving the origin country and that the date sent must take in to account the expected arrival date (usually over night) and give a few days should there be problems and not conflict with weekends or holidays so that any extraordinary paperwork can be completed on both sides of the Atlantic. Speaking from experience, I had a shipment held up (refused) on a Friday night weekend with a Monday holiday. If you have ever tried to call a vet in Europe on a weekend for an ASAP request when it is 2am for him and the customs office in your counrty is about to close for the week-end and confiscate your shipment, this is not a good feeling. Even when using a personal courrier you can encounter problems, but you know exactly what the problem is when it happens and you may be able to correct it immediately. For very large shipments this is the best way to do it, as long as the person knows who to contact should there be a problem.

The other thing you did not mention was when you were trying to do this before. I remeber an import ban during the end 2001 due to a CEM testing issue on frozen semen. This only affected shipments from Germany and at the time many shipments from other countries, even from the same stallions, were allowed entry!

The best advice I can give you is that the receiver in the USA must be the one who prepares the and receives the permit for you and that the final documents are approved by the receiving contry's customs and agriculture agency before you ship the semen. This will require an extra week or more and a few overnight courrier fees for the documents, but once this is done to everyone's satisfaction the shipment should go without any problems. It is actually easier to ship a horse from Germany than it is to ship semen! This is why you will see stallions standing in the USA on occasion.

Sometmes I just shake my head at the process... but if you want the semen you have to jump through the hoops imposed. Most times the agencies are acting in their country's best interest. Other times customs and agriculture officers are blindly following procedures or even interpreting them incorrectly. When this happens you have little recourse, unless you happen to know a senior staff vet with the department of agriculture.


Ben W. Eby
Username: Gypsy2

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - 05:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What is a good source of information regarding rules and regulations, if I want to start importing frozen semen into the USA?

Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 2221
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - 09:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Visit the USDA-Aphis site. Towards the bottom of that page you will see where it says "Contagious Equine Metritis", and immediately below that is the information for importation of semen to the USA.

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