Mailing Drosophila Samples
Updated February 3, 2012
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  International Postal Regulations

Mail delivery between countries is governed by an agency of the United Nations called the Universal Postal Union. International postal rules are described in a document called the Universal Postal Convention. The Bloomington Stock Center and Laurie Tompkins of NIH worked with the U.S. Postal Service and Department of State to have the Universal Postal Convention amended at the 2004 Congress of the Universal Postal Union to allow the mailing of flies. 

The Universal Postal Convention Letter Post Regulations now read:

     Article 15.  Items not admitted. Prohibitions
          4.1. Live animals shall be prohibited in all categories of items.
          4.2. Exceptionally, the following shall be admitted in letter-post items other than insured items:
          4.2.1. bees, leeches and silk-worms;
          4.2.2. parasites and destroyers of noxious insects intended for the control of those insects and exchanged between officially recognized institutions;
          4.2.3. flies of the family Drosophilidae for biomedical research exchanged between officially recognized institutions.

These international rules are reflected in the U.S. Postal Service International Mail Manual, which says:

     Section 138.1 Animals
     All live or dead animals are nonmailable, except the following:
          a. Live bees, leeches, silkworms, and flies of the family Drosophilidae

  Mailing flies within the United States
  Drosophila may be mailed within the U.S., although special permits are required to import flies into Hawaii. The relevant postal regulation is found in the Domestic Mail Manual Section 601, which reads:
9.3.7 Bees
Bees are acceptable in the continental surface mail when shipped under federal and state regulations to ensure that they are free of disease. Packages of honeybees must bear special handling postage, except those sent at a First-Class Mail rate. Only queen honeybees may be shipped via air transportation. Each queen honeybee shipped via air transportation may be accompanied by up to eight attendant honeybees.
9.3.8 Other Insects
Other live, nonpoisonous, and nondisease-conveying insects, including flies of the family Drosophilidae, may be sent through the mail when properly prepared for mailing and when shipped under regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Such insects mailed to the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia are also subject to the regulations of the destination country.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires Interstate Movement Permits for transgenic Drosophila strains carrying plant pest sequences.