Marine Mammal Diagnostic Guidelines


This standard operating procedure (SOP) outlines the steps and documentation that you must complete to be able to submit marine mammal specimens for diagnostic testing at the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Georgia. Strict adherence to this SOP is necessary to assure that samples imported to the US by our laboratory meet the requirements of the CITES permit under which we operate. Failure to follow this SOP will result in non-clearance of your samples at the US port of entry or rejection of the samples by our laboratory in the event the samples accidentally slip through the port of entry.

Definitions and Acronyms:

AVDL: Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the University of Georgia
CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora.
USFWS: United States Fish and Wildlife Service.


  • A validated CITES export permit is required for any foreign entity wishing to submit samples to the AVDL. Most countries require an inspection of samples and secondary signature or validation of their CITES export permit prior to shipping the samples. This signature should be obtained when declaring the samples for export to your country's regulatory body. This will strongly be enforced by USFWS upon import. Samples are subject to confiscation if your export permit does not have a required secondary signature or validation. A copy of the permit may be submitted to our laboratory (by e-mail to or fax to 706.542.5977) for verification prior to the specimen leaving your country. On your CITES export permit:

    • The exporter must be "your organization”.
    • The recipient (''importer" or "destination") must be "National Marine Fisheries Service, c/o Dr. Jeremiah T. Saliki, Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Athens, GA 30602, USA"
  • Prior to shipping or transporting specimens, blocks 9 (Description), 11 (Quantity) and block 12 (Country of Origin) of our CITES import permit (which will be e-mailed to you after confirmation that you have a valid CITES export permit) must be completed for the specimens. Click here for a sample completed CITES import permit, which can also be e-mailed to you upon request.
  • Before shipping, complete USFWS Form 3-177. Click here for instructions on completing that form. Block 1 4a must indicate your complete name, address (in your country), and telephone number. Do not forget to date, sign, and write or type your full names in section 22 of the form. Send a copy of the form by e-mail
    ( and to arrive at least 24 hours (preferably several days) before the shipment is scheduled to arrive at the US port of entry. We strongly encourage you to complete the form online at:
  • Packaging and shipping the samples:
    • Package all samples following IATA guidelines for international transportation of dangerous goods.
    • Include 2 copies of the following two copies with the package: one set of copies in a sealed Ziploc bag inside the package and one set of copies taped in the packing slip on top of the box: your completed and validated CITES export permit, our completed CITES permit, completed and signed Form 3-177.
    • Notify us by e-mail ( with copy to on the date and time of arrival of samples at Atlanta airport. In your notification e-mail, attach scanned copies of your completed and validated CITES export permit, our completed CITES permit, completed and signed Form 3-177.