International Shipping

Shipping instructions for agencies, biologists, and researchers shipping animal teeth internationally, no matter the quantity.

International Shipping Requirements and Recommendations

Shipping Animal Teeth Internationally?
Follow These Instructions!

Shipping animal teeth or other calcified tissue to Matson’s Lab for age analysis from outside of the United States requires international permitting and border inspection by the USFWS. Please carefully read the information on this page and follow the applicable instructions. Feel free to contact us with any questions prior to your shipment.

We recommend FedEx Air Express as the only reliable transportation provider for shipping animal teeth to Matson’s. They most efficiently deliver inspected and cleared parcels directly to our lab. Matson’s does charge our clients for the USFWS fee, which is either $125 (unprotected species) or $225 (protected species). If you do not have FedEx Air Express service or if your FedEx office refuses service, please contact us for advice. Shipping animal teeth using Matson’s preferred shipping methods will ensure efficient and successful delivery, allowing us to do our part and return age data of the highest possible accuracy.

How To Ship Your Teeth

Packages may not be allowed into the U.S. if they contain specimens that are not fully dried or have more than minimal amounts of soft tissue and dried blood cells. Teeth that have been extracted and dried as per the recommendations of Matson’s Lab will be allowable for import.

For information about extracting your teeth, please visit Prepare Your Specimens.

Matson’s Lab highly recommends using FedEx Air Express whenever possible for transporting tooth specimens internationally. Contact FedEx to locate the nearest office with Express services.

  • Call 1-800-463-3339 or visit the FedEx website.

1) Cover letter to Matson’s describing the shipment

2) Excel master list

3) Commercial Invoice

  • Should include: A unique number assigned by you (for your records), your contact information, Matson’s Lab contact information, and quantity and value of all the teeth in the sample. We recommend using a value of $0.01 per tooth; no item can have a value of $0.00.
Common and Scientific NameQuantityUnit PriceAmount
Canine tooth from wolf (Canis lupus)250.010.25
PM1 tooth from brown bear (Ursus arctos)150.010.15

4) Certification that teeth are clean

5) Your country’s export permit (if required)

6) Matson’s Lab U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Import/Export Permit

7) Matson’s Lab USDA Import Permit (ungulates only)

8) CITES Permit document (if applicable)

  • The CITES permit document must be validated by Customs before it leaves your country. Arrange with your FedEx Express office to have the permit validated before it leaves. If FedEx cannot provide validation, you will have to contact the nearest Customs office to make the appropriate arrangements.
  • Please give special attention to the full and correct completion of the CITES permit. Contact the lab prior to sending material from CITES species and refer to the information about the completion and validation of the permit below.

9) ESA Permit (if required)

10) FedEx Express Air Waybill

After you have located your nearest FedEx Express office and gathered all the required documents, you are ready to start packing your shipment to the lab. To do so, be sure you have included the following:

  • Master list
  • Sorted tooth envelopes matching the ID number order on the master list, collated front to back
  • Original copies of all necessary documents placed in an envelope within the shipping container

1) Original copies should be placed in an envelope within the shipping container. Boldly mark the outside of this envelope as follows: “DO NOT REMOVE THESE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. THEY ARE REQUIRED FOR CLEARANCE UPON ENTRY TO THE U.S.

2) Copies of the validated CITES and USDA permits will need to be in a separate pouch on the outside of the shipping container. Tape the pouch shut and add a note stating “ORIGINAL CITES INSIDE PACKAGE

3) The Waybill pouch, supplied by FedEx, should also be secured on the outside of the box. This must contain the FedEx Air Waybill and your Commercial Invoice.

1) If CITES species are enclosed, label the top of the shipping container: “ORIGINAL CITES PERMIT INSIDE

2) Five labels, on all four sides and the top of the box, should read: “HOLD FOR U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE INSPECTION


Once your parcel has been sent out for shipment, email Matson’s Lab at and let us know that it is on the way!

In your email, please attach the following:

  • Copy of the commercial invoice
  • Copy of the CITES permit (if applicable)
  • Master list of samples
  • FedEx Express tracking number
      • We will work with FedEx to file the declaration that will enable the inspection by USFWS when the parcel enters the United States.

Thank you for trusting our wildlife professionals with your tooth aging needs, we greatly appreciate your efforts to send your shipment to us! Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

CITES Permits

In compliance with the International Convention for Threatened and Endangered Species (CITES), permits must accompany teeth sent to Matson’s Lab for processing. Please contact the lab prior to sending material from CITES species and study all of the information below. Any flaws in the CITES permit document, no matter how minor, may result in the shipment being seized by the USFWS with the potential loss of all samples. Seized shipments may or may not be returned to the sender.

  • To inquire about the status of a species, please contact us. For CITES permits, contact your government’s wildlife management agency.

  • Permits are required for mammals listed in CITES Appendix I or Appendix II, either in the country of origin or in the U.S. In addition, permits are also required for mammals resembling threatened or endangered species (e.g. the North American black bear).

  • Actual quantities and species of teeth sent to Matson’s Lab MUST BE LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO the quantities and species given in the accompanying CITES permits. If there is a greater quantity of teeth for any species, or if there are teeth from a species not listed on the permit, the shipment can be seized by USFWS inspectors.

CITES Permit Customs Validation

Invalid CITES permit due to missing information

The USFWS requires Customs validation of the CITES permit at the time of export. Before the parcel can be legally exported to our lab, a Customs official must add the required information, then sign and stamp the box located in the lower portion of the permit document. Please follow the steps below to confirm that the information on the permit is complete and correct and you are ready to ship:

Permit “valid until” date must not expire during handling and transportation and must still be valid when Matson’s Lab receives the parcel. To ensure the date will still be valid when your shipment reaches the lab, we recommend allowing at least 4 months on the permit to account for any time delays.

The quantity of tooth samples stated on the permit must be greater than or equal to the actual number of teeth that are being exported. If the quantity stated on the permit is less than what is found in the parcel, it may be seized by USFWS. Make sure to use the same unit of measurement as the CITES document for quantity of specimens.

All species being shipped must be listed on the permit. If there are species in the shipment that are not listed on the permitting, the parcel may not be admitted through customs.

Customs validation must be attached and all information must be completed as specified in the Validation Block (see photo to left). The document is not validated until it has received a stamp and signature from the inspecting authority at the time of export or re-export.

IMPORTANT: To obtain CITES permit Customs validation for FedEx shipments, it may be necessary to personally deliver the parcel to a Customs office for validation before shipping. The parcel can only be shipped after it has been validated. Your FedEx office will advise whether they can obtain the Customs validation, or if you will need to obtain it yourself. If you obtain it yourself, you may want to contact the Customs office in advance and confirm that officials are familiar with the CITES document and know how to provide validation.

Endangered or Threatened Species (ESA) Permits

Some species (e.g. the Woodland Caribou in Southeast B.C.) are on the U.S. Endangered or Threatened Species list but may not be listed in the CITES appendices. If you think that the species in your sample may fall under this category, please contact us before continuing shipment preparations. We must obtain an ESA permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which may take as long as 90 days.

FedEx Express Air Waybill

Once the shipment is scheduled with FedEx Express, you will receive an Air Waybill. It is essential to include all of the Waybill information exactly as we have outlined below. If any information is omitted, it may result in the parcel not being inspected by the USFWS. How the parcel is handled upon import is largely determined by what is in the Air Waybill information box.

Matson’s Laboratory
(406) 258-6286
Import Permit No. 009816
135 Wooden Shoe Lane
Manhattan, MT 59741, USA

In the lower left corner, record “CODE 05079000.” This is the tariff code for teeth.

Also in the lower left corner, write “CITES U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE INSPECTION REQUIRED.” Please fill it in exactly as we request and include CITES as the first word even if the species is not CITES. Any other language can lead to a prolonged clearance process, seizure of the parcel, or return of the parcel to the sender.

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