International Standards for Wood Packaging
Whether you appoint a customs agent or pack it yourself, all commercial packages must meet the requirements when using:
- Boxes and wooden crates
- Drums (and any similar packing)
- Dunnage (e.g. loose wood used for protection)
- Packing cases
- Pallets, box pallets, pallet collars, and load boards
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:
- Barrels used for transporting wines and spirits.
- Gift boxes (when made from processed wood, sawdust, shavings, or cardboard used as packing material).
- Raw wood that is no more than six (6) millimetres thick.
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):
- Returning the packaging and the goods inside it.
- The cost of destroying the wooden packaging.
- Treatment (and marking) to meet ISPM15 standards.
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):
- Sending it back to the original supplier.
- Using a company that is authorised to treat wood to ISPM15 standards (e.g. Timcon the Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation).
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):
- Is constructed from the same type and quality wood as in the consignment.
- Meets the specified requirements for entering Great Britain.
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:
- Global Exporters Guide on the Timcon website.
- Regional Plant Protection Organization (RPPO).
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.
Related Help Guides
- Researching export markets and finding new overseas customers.
- Weights and measures regulations for packaged goods.
- Rules for importing non native animals into the United Kingdom.
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.