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ISPM 15 Regulations (wood packaging) - Send your parcels worldwide

Wood is widely used as a packaging material in international trade. Due to the risks of introducing and spreading tree pests, strict controls on wood packaging, both for imports and exports, are enforced. If you don’t conform to these requirements, your entire consignment could be rejected or even destroyed.

Wood packaging means any kind of wood used anywhere in packing, such as packing cases, boxes, crates, drums and similar packing, pallets, box pallets and other load boards and pallet collars. It also includes dunnage - loose wood used to protect goods and their packaging and to stop cargoes from shifting during transit. There are specific environmental and other requirements for wood packaging, in addition to any standard requirements for importing packaged goods or packing materials into the UK.

Every destination country will also have its own import requirements with which you must also comply if you’re exporting packaged products. This guide explains these requirements and shows how to import wood packaging into the UK and what rules there are for importing goods into the UK packed in wood packaging.

Requirements for exports using wood packaging

In general, manufacturers of wood packaging must meet the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures 15 (ISPM15), as this is the standard most commonly used around the world.

If you use ISPM15-compliant wood packaging for export, it must meet the requirements of the country where it was manufactured (or repaired), and it will also need to meet the requirements of the destination country.

Destination country import requirements

If you’re despatching goods to another country within the European Union (EU) there are no additional controls or standards, other than the presumption that any packaging made from wood produced in EU member states automatically complies with European Community internal plant health regulations.

Exporters to Portugal are encouraged to use ISPM15 compliant wood packaging to enable its subsequent re-use out of Portugal. This is because of emergency measures against the spread of Pine Wood Nematode present there.

Requirements vary from country to country - so before exporting any goods with wood packaging material to any non-EU country, you should check whether they are party to ISPM15 and whether or not they have additional requirements.

You can find import requirements for different countries in the global guide on the Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) website. Alternatively, you can contact the country’s embassy or the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) in that country. You can find global national plant protection organisations on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) website.

Exemptions

The following types of wood packaging may have different requirements or may be exempt from any particular standard or requirement:

  • wood less than 6 millimetres thick is exempt from any requirement
  • wood packaging material comprised wholly of manufactured wood products such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board, chipboard or similar is exempt from any requirement in some countries
  • barrels for wine and spirit
  • gift boxes for wine, cigars and other commodities made from wood that has been processed in some way that renders it free from pests