Export Wood Packaging
Inspection service

Your Subtitle text
Export Wood Packaging Inspection Service can serve to save you thousands in costly delays, tariffs, fines and even the loss of your shipment in the severest of cases.

Important Acronyms / Glossary:

IPPC- International Plant Protection Convention. “The IPPC is an international treaty to secure action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products, and to promote appropriate measures for their control.” (IPPC website link- click here). There are 179 countries as to date that participate in the convention.

ISPM 15- International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15. This is the standard adopted by more than 120 countries worldwide that regulate the use of solid wood packaging in international export use.  16 pages long the “Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade” can be downloaded from this link (IPPC/ISPM no. 15- PDF format- click here).

Phytosanitary- "
Pertaining to plant quarantine"- a definition according to the FAO's glossary of Phytosanitary terms.  In simple terms, the cleanliness of plants and their derivatives related to pests, in the case of ISPM 15 this pertains to raw solid wood.

USDA- United States Department of Agriculture. They are responsible for the protection of the United States agriculture and are responsible for inspecting fruits and plants brought in from foreign countries and preventing these from polluting the crops growing in the US.
(USDA link)

APHIS- Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. 'Protecting American agriculture and animal resources' is the basic charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (APHIS link)

ALSC- American Lumber Standard Committee.  An organization whose mission has it's roots associated back to the 1920's in an effort to establish standards for the lumber industry in the United States.

NWPCA- National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. 
An industry organization made up of members who's business interests are primarily focused on the shipping industry. 

NPPO- National Plant Protection Organizations.
The governmental body within a country responsible for the administration and oversight of the ISPM 15 standard.  In the United States, the USDA serves in this capacity although the ALSC and the NWPCA have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the USDA/APHIS which allows both to administer or discharge the programs under USDA/APHIS supervision.  The ISPM 15 standards uses this term in it's regulations.

WPM- Wood Packaging Material.  An industry term to describe packaging made from solid wood.

FAOFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  It's primary function is to lead international efforts to defeat hunger.  This is the parent organization working in conjunction with the IPPC. (see this FAO document).

Pinewood Nematode- (Bursaphelenchus xylophilis) “The pinewood nematode is native to North America and is not considered a primary pathogen of native pines, but is the cause of pine wilt in some non-native pines". (INFO link).

Dunnage- Material used to hold cargo in place during shipment.  In the wood packaging industry, dunnage can take the form of blocks, braces, supports or other simple forms and is not intended to remain with the cargo upon offloading at the port of entry.  Dunnage manufactured from solid wood for export use must be treated according to the ISPM 15 standard and is marked with the IPPC mark with the added feature of the letters "DUN" or the word "dunnage" included in the mark.

ISO- International Organization for Standardization- COUNTRY CODES-  Wood Packaging Material (WPM) marked with the IPPC logo contains a country code to identify the package's country of origin.  For example, the United States is represented by the symbol "US".  The country codes are directly related to the codes listed under the "International Organization for Standardization" (ISO).  Some country codes may seem obvious while others quite obscure.  To take the mystery out of correctly identifying the country code- Visit a website that has the countries and corresponding codes listed here.

NAPPO- North American Plant Protection Organization- Their mission as stated on their web site


"Provide a forum for public and private sectors in Canada, the United States and Mexico to collaborate in the development of science-based standards intended to protect agricultural, forest and other plant resources against regulated plant pests, while facilitating trade."
Click here to visit their website

Introduction to the export wood packaging industry

The international community as far back as the 1880's had determined the need to protect the globe's plants and forests from harmful infestations (IPPC History- click here). Many avenues of infestation had been identified and in particular raw wood that is used for packaging commodities bound for international export.  Items such as pallets, boxes, crates and the like using raw lumber for their construction are prime concerns. These packaging items sometimes are discarded after arriving in the country they and their products are shipped to.  Either making it's way to a landfill, illegally dumped or used in someone's backyard, these packaging items can pose a potential for harmful organisms to infect local forestry.  One of the culprits of prime concern is the Pine Nematode, a microorganism that has the ability to damage forest resources.  Currently there is no "cure" for an infected tree and the end result for such is death of the tree.  The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has determined through detailed studies that heating lumber made from infected trees to a minimum core temperature of 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 Celsius) for 30 minutes kills off the Pine Nematode as well as other potentially harmful organisms.  Further, the use of a chemical gas, Methyl Bromide, has a similar sterilizing effect on infected wood.  In the United States, (a contracting party of the IPPC and a country that applies the ISPM 15 standards), the USDA has developed a program directly administered through the sub agency, APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service).  In turn, APHIS has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) for the heat treatment regulations and the National Wood Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) for the fumigation (using Methyl Bromide) regulations.  Both are equally acceptable forms of treatment and preparation for sending wood packaging materials to other countries abiding by the ISPM 15 standards. 


There are some details that cannot be overlooked in the use of solid wood packaging for export.  Please note:
Debarked or bark free?  All solid wood needs to have bark removed from it to a reasonable degree.  The ISPM 15 standard states (on page 11 under ANNEX 1) "less than 3 cm in width (regardless of the length) or greater than 3 cm in width, with the total surface area of an individual piece of bark less than 50 square cm".  The "total surface area" referred to would be equivalent to an area able to fit within a standard size credit card.  According to the ISPM 15 standards this would qualify as "DE-BARKED". 
WHY AND HOW WAS THE BARK STANDARD DEVELOPED? Dr. Eric Allen of the International Forest Quarantine Research Group was involved in the research.  To quote from the Canadian Forest Service's website (Click here to visit the page related to the following quote made by Dr. Allen)

“In the latest revision of ISPM 15, there were concerns about bark residing on wood packaging after treatment. Bark may harbour insects; the question was, how much bark is a problem? We know that a piece of bark the size of a bedsheet is more likely to be infested with wood pests than a piece the size of your fingernail. But where’s the line?

“The scientists in the International Forestry Quarantine Research Group designed experiments that were conducted in a number of countries which clarified how much bark is a problem. From that research, it was possible for the CPM drafting group to establish provisions for bark tolerance in the new ISPM 15.”

—Dr. Eric Allen, Canadian Forest Service, Chair of the International Forestry Quarantine Research Group
"Eric Allen leads the Forest Invasive Alien group with the Canadian Forest Service at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria, Canada. For the past 13 years he has worked extensively on non-indigenous species that impact forest ecosystems; their biologies, their movement with international trade, and the assessment of mitigation measures. Dr. Allen is the chair of the International Forestry Quarantine Research Group, and is a member of the IPPC Technical Panel on Forest Quarantine and the North American Plant Protection Organization forestry panel."

A quote from the webpage related to the scientists/researchers behind the studies (click here to visit that page).

2)- Solid wood 6mm or less in thickness is exempt from the ISPM 15 standards and does not need to be treated before export packaging use. (6mm is generally accepted to equal a 1/4 inch).

3)- Pressure treated lumber currently is not deemed acceptable for preparing wood packaging materials as proper for export in accord with the ISPM 15 Standard.  In other words, if the lumber is not heat treated or fumigated to the ISPM 15 standards either before or after the pressure treatment process, it could not be incorporated into a packaging unit with the IPPC mark applied.  Without undergoing the heat treatment or fumigation process, the pressure treated lumber would not be deemed as properly treated in preparation for export to countries abiding by the ISPM 15 standards.

4)- Engineered wood products such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board (OSB) or any other product made from processed wood that goes through a heat process during manufacture is excluded from the ISPM 15 standards (see ISPM 15 pg. 7, requirement 2.1).  


The United States Department of Agriculture is the official NPPO charged with the administration of the ISPM 15 in the US.  The application of the ISPM 15 standard was gradually phased in to practice in the US.  Review the document that described the process of application, the principal reasons for doing so and the overall mechanics of the standard from the the USDA/APHIS- click here to download this FEDERAL REGISTER dated September 16th, 2004.


The Australian Government HAD established a more stringent approach to phytosanitary standards above and beyond the ISPM 15 standards BUT as of JULY 1ST, 2010 the ISPM 15 standard related to debarked wood is recognized.

Plywood and wood veneers.  Australia expects plywood and veneers to be free from pest infection.  Originally requiring a declaration of newly manufactured plywood/veneer, this has been rescinded (See AQIS Notice to Industry 61/2009 here). 
The right answer as given to us directly from an AQIS communication!