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Wood Packaging for Import and Export

Importers and exporters must make sure solid wood packaging material (WPM) meets international standards if using it to move goods around the world.

The information in this section explains ISPM15 international standards for WPM imports and how to follow wood packaging requirements in the United Kingdom.

International Standards for Wood Packaging

Whether you appoint a customs agent or pack it yourself, all commercial packages must meet the requirements when using:

Note: WPM can introduce harmful pests and diseases from trees. New regulation of wood packaging material in international trade between Great Britain and other countries (including all EU member states, Northern Ireland, and Switzerland) applies from the 1st of January 2021.

The International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15) do not apply to processed, non solid wood packaging, such as:

The UK rules for wood packaging material (WPM) differ - depending on whether you are exporting goods out of the country or importing them.

Note: Failing to follow the rules could result in the packaging being rejected or destroyed altogether. If so, you would need to use some other method for transporting the goods.

Importing with Solid Wood Packaging

If you use solid wood packaging to import commercial goods into Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) it must meet ISPM15 standards (unless you are bringing it in from Northern Ireland).

Packaging made from conifer or soft wood can either be debarked or it can have a UK plant passport. Defra has further guidance about plant health controls (e.g. plant passporting).

As an importer, it is important to specify the exact requirements for solid wood packaging with the exporter (e.g. in the contract).

If the wood packing fails to pass an inspection at border control, you may need to pay for repackaging, as well as (where necessary):

Note: The main section contains more information about importing goods permanently into the United Kingdom (including tax and duty, as well as the licensing requirements).

If Packaging Fails an Inspection

There are several options available if the packaging you are using fails its inspection. In most cases, they will let you get it treated, by (either):

Note: See the Daera website for detailed information about wood packaging material import requirements when importing into Northern Ireland.

Associated Controlled Dunnage

Associated controlled dunnage (e.g. bearers, spacers, and stickers) is wood that supports another consignment of wood of a specified genus or species, and (both):

As a rule, providing it is of the same type and quality as the consignment, it need not be ISPM15 compliant when banded together with the sawn timber product.

Exporting with Solid Wood Packaging

You can check whether the country you trade with accepts ISPM15 standards, and what other requirements they may have, by researching the:

Moving Packaging to Northern Ireland from Great Britain

Do you move commercial goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland? If so, the wood packaging you are using needs to meet ISPM15 standards.

Because the authorities consider the packaging as being very low risk, they will only carry out checks on a 'risk-targeted' basis.

Reusing and Returning Wooden Packaging

Undamaged and uninfested solid wood packaging material can be used in other countries if they accept ISPM15 standards.

But, ISPM15 compliant wood packaging must be re-treated and re-marked if it has been changed, repaired, or remanufactured.

Forestry Commission
Telephone: 0300 067 5155
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Related Help Guides

Note: This short video highlights ISPM 15 rules and regulations and how untreated lumber can increase the risk of transporting pests and diseases across international borders.

Using Wood Packaging Material (WPM) to Import or Export Goods