You Asked | Wood Packaging Materials

You Asked | Wood Packaging Materials

While we always encourage you to get in touch with our Trade Advisory team and get bespoke information that is relevant to your specific needs, there are some questions that are beneficial to all of our readers, and the “You Asked” Series is here to tackle those questions head-on. 

Today’s topic is all about wood packaging materials, their regulations, and the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No 15 (ISPM 15) that lays out those regulations.

What is ISPM 15? What Wood Packaging Needs It?  

As mentioned above, ISPM stands for International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures, and they are the regulations from Canada and the United States surrounding plant and organic life crossing their mutual border. In our particular instance, ISPM 15 governs the rules surrounding wooden materials used in packing, containing, and transporting shipments across the US and Canadian border. 

As to what wood packaging falls under these regulations -  any solid wood product larger than six millimeters falls under the jurisdiction of ISPM 15 regulations. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Wooden Crates, 
  • Dunnage, 
  • Wooden pallets
  • Wooden boxes
  • Loose wooden packing
  • Packing blocks
  • Drums
  • Cases

Of course, there are exceptions to this, most notably any composite wood product like plywood or chipboard, but also any solid wood that is less than six millimeters thick. Also, any wood of Canadian origin entering from Canada must be pest-free but does not require ISPM 15 markings. Wood from US Territories is considered domestic and not imported. 

Does Canada Require ISPM 15?

The short answer here is - yes. Since 2011, Canadian Customs has been enforcing the rules and regulations set out by ISPM 15, and failure to comply with them can result in delays at Customs at the most optimistic. Should a shipment be found out of compliance and with any of the pests and diseases these regulations are trying to avoid, the shipment may need to be treated before being returned - at an additional cost to the importer. 

Are Pallets Treated with ISPM 15? What are the ISPM 15 Pallet Requirements? 

It’s been many years since these regulations came into effect, and in that time, many pallet and wood packing vendors have registered as ISPM 15 compliant. That means that their pallets have been treated in the following way: 

  • Their pallets are debarked. 
  • The pallets are then fumigated with methyl bromide or heat treatment
  • The pallet is stamped or branded with an approved mark from an accredited inspection agency. 

In more technical terms: 

The wood packaging material must have been treated in accordance with part 305 of this chapter.

The wood packaging material must be marked in a visible location on each article, preferably on at least two opposite sides of the article, with a legible and permanent mark that indicates that the article meets the requirements of this paragraph. 

The mark must be approved by the International Plant Protection Convention in its International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures to certify that wood packaging material has been subjected to an approved measure and must include a unique graphic symbol, the ISO two-letter country code for the country that produced the wood packaging material, a unique number assigned by the national plant protection agency of that country to the producer of the wood packaging material, and an abbreviation disclosing the type of treatment (e.g., HT for heat treatment or MB for methyl bromide fumigation). 

So there you have it, a quick Q&A about wooden packing material regulations and pallet treatment procedures. For a full breakdown of these regulations, be sure to check out ISPM 15’s informational website. For more analysis about ISPM 15 and what it might mean for you, head over to our full breakdown. Of course, if you are looking for a more bespoke answer, contact our Trade Advisory team today. We can help you stay compliant and headache-free.

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About Author
Gloria Terhaar
CCS (CA/US), CTCS, CBSA Prof. Designate

Gloria Terhaar began her career in Canadian customs brokerage 2007. She currently works in our Canadian division as a Trade Compliance Supervisor and Regulatory Compliance Specialist. Gloria has extensive experience in all aspects of documentation and regulatory requirements as they relate to importing products into Canada. Gloria is often called upon to train industry with some recent talks for MNP, the Surrey Board of Trade, TFO Canada and the BC Produce Marketing Association. In 2018, Gloria also participated in the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council advocacy event "Fall Harvest" in Ottawa where she participated in advocacy efforts for the Canadian produce industry.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.
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